Best cities to move to as a graduate

Leeds is one of the best graduate cities

Once the excitement of graduation day is over, new graduates need to start planning the next stage of their lives. Lots of lucky students will have found graduate jobs, or managed to wrangle a spot on the best graduate schemes – but if you’re still wondering ‘what’s next?’ and debating where to settle after university, you might be wondering which UK cities are the best for your prospects.

From the capital to Northern powerhouse cities like Leeds and Sheffield, there are plenty of locations that offer great opportunities to graduates. Before you make your move, do your research, and decide what matters most to you. Do you want a thriving cultural scene? Are you hoping for a graduate job in a specific industry? Or maybe being close to friends and family is your main criteria?

For our list we looked at some of the top UK cities, average salary in the area, and average monthly rent to give you an idea of the cost of living. If you’re looking for a city with the best graduate schemes, then some of our top picks are sure to please – here are some of the best cities to move to as a graduate.


  • Average salary: £34k (Payscale)
  • Average monthly rent for a one bed property: £1,092

You might think of Cambridge as a student city thanks to the influence of the world famous Cambridge University – but this picturesque city was recently voted the best city for graduates by CNBC. Obviously, being home to one of the world’s best universities means there’s tons of graduate career opportunities in related fields – there are plenty of businesses focusing on science, publishing, academia and university focused services in Cambridge. And tons of the UK’s top companies and best graduate schemes target Cambridge when they’re looking for prospective employees.

One of the other benefits of living in Cambridge as a graduate? There’s just so much to see, do and enjoy in the city. From the classic-if-a-bit-cliché punting on the river Cam to enjoying one of the countless museums and galleries, there’s no shortage of weekend and evening activities. The fact that Cambridge is a student city also means there’s no shortage of bars and pubs to enjoy!


  • Average salary: £39k (Payscale)
  • Average monthly rent for a one bed property in the city centre: £1,656

A graduate moving to London isn’t really a new concept. Students from across the UK are likely to pick the capital as a brilliant place to kickstart their career. A study by Target Jobs revealed that London has significantly more graduate schemes than any other location in the UK – 45% of all graduate vacancies were in London.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the average salary in London is significantly higher, but rents also follow suit – compared to some of the other cities on our list, finding somewhere to live in London can be a struggle.  But so many industries are based in London, from journalism and publishing to film, finance, and government. And that’s why we couldn’t leave it off the list! While more and more industries are beginning to take root elsewhere in the UK, if your chosen graduate career is London-based then the capital might simply be the best bet for you.


  • Average salary: £29k (Payscale)
  • Average monthly rent for a one bed property in the city centre: £719

Leeds is an incredibly popular destination for graduates in Yorkshire – and in fact 39% of graduates from one of Leeds’ three universities decide to stay in this charming city. With Channel 4 recently designating Leeds as their new home in the North, Leeds has been signposted as a major hub for the tech, media, and digital sectors. With major employers like NHS technical firm TPP, Asda, Sky Betting and Jet2, there’s plenty of opportunity for graduate jobs, and a great place for you to begin your career.

Apart from the strong job market in Leeds, there’s a whole host of other reasons to love this major city. Leeds city centre is full of thriving independent bars and restaurants, from rooftop cocktail bars to secret speakeasy jazz clubs like the Domino. There’s a strong cultural scene, with multiple theatres, museums, and a dedicated concert venue. And you really get the best of both worlds – a bustling city that’s just 2 hours to London on the train, but also right on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales.


  • Average salary: £27k (Payscale)
  • Average monthly rent for a one bed property in the city centre: £625

This Northern powerhouse of a city is a great spot for anyone looking for graduate employment. The former steelmaking centre of the UK, Sheffield is a modern, well-connected city, that boasts plenty of opportunities outside of just steel! With the University of Sheffield, Plusnet and Go Outdoors all based here, there’s plenty of potential employers to kickstart your graduate career.

Sheffield also boasts some impressive reasons to make it your new home, even if you don’t have a graduate job locked down just yet. It’s a charmingly green city, with 80 parks and 650 designated green spaces – and the hilly layout means that you can enjoy some brilliant views if you find a home higher in the valley. For beer lovers, Sheffield also boasts more breweries per head than even London, so you won’t be without choice when it comes to finding a local watering hole!



  • Average salary: £29k (Payscale)
  • Average monthly rent for a one bed property in the city centre: £651

Glasgow is one of the most popular cities for graduates. With high average graduate salaries, great opportunities for graduate careers, and plenty of amenities to enjoy, Glasgow is a great pick for anyone looking to kick off their career in Scotland.

There are three universities in Glasgow, so there’s plenty of job opportunities in academia. There’s also heavy investment in the financial and business sector, so t’s a great place to grow a graduate career in these fields.

Glasgow also has a big advantage over other cities, with a low cost of living but high quality of life – in fact, living costs in Glasgow are on average 20% cheaper than London! But low cost of living doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of things to see and do in Glasgow. In fact, the city is a hub of culture, with plenty of museums to enjoy and impressive art nouveau landmarks.


Whether you’re just after great graduate career opportunities, or looking for a new city full of culture and fun, there are plenty of great UK cities to pick from. Looking for more advice on where to live in the UK, or expert property advice? Explore the latest from us over on our blog.

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