Categories > Guides and Tips

A City Comparison Manchester vs Leeds

A City Comparison: Manchester vs Leeds

Embarking on a journey to find out which is more livable between Manchester and Leeds? Setting aside any inherent biases, the answer isn’t straightforward—it hinges on what you value most in a city.

But which city is the best to live in? Leeds or Manchester?

Leeds may be more suitable if you’re on a budget in lifestyle, but Manchester is definitely a place to consider if you’re more in the high life. You should move to the city that attends to your lifestyle the best— so it still depends at the end of the day.

In this article, we’ll delve into a comprehensive comparison of these two cities, examining aspects such as cost of living, diversity, career opportunities, and lifestyle. With this, we can aid you in making an informed decision on your ideal city for residence. Read on!

Cost of Living in Manchester vs. Leeds 

spoon with coins and potato on top of a calculator that is surrounded by papers and money
Image source: PXHere
The average monthly living cost in Manchester is £3,744.4, while in Leeds, it’s £3,600.0—making Leeds the more affordable city in terms of cost of living. 

This would mean that the monthly living cost in Leeds is approximately 3.85% cheaper than in Manchester. 

This difference is particularly noticeable in aspects like rental, utility, and childcare costs.
Source: Cost of Live; Numbeo

Here’s a table that breaks down the costs attributed to living in Manchester and Leeds:

Expenses Manchester CostLeeds Cost
Housing (Average Rent per Month) 
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre£763.47£663.05
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre£559.52£485.33
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre£1,338.80£1,259.25
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre£873.88£826.75
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill) 
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment£160.00£154.72
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)£29.20£31.96
Transportation (Fare)
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)£2.84£2.44
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)£64.16£59.12
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)£1.29£1.25
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)£2.36£2.73
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child£752.30£699.92
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child£14,371.95£14,877.26
Source: Cost of Live

Observing the table, it’s evident that there are notable differences between Manchester and Leeds in terms of living expenses.

Manchester, known for its vibrant atmosphere and rich industrial history, generally has a higher cost of living compared to Leeds. However, it’s essential to note that both cities are significantly more affordable compared to the national average living cost in the United Kingdom.

Despite the higher living costs, Manchester remains a preferred city for students and young professionals due to its diverse career opportunities and lively urban lifestyle. 

The city’s dynamic environment and extensive array of entertainment options make it an attractive place for those seeking a balance between work and leisure.

Conversely, Leeds, with its lower living costs and rich cultural heritage, is an appealing option for those who are starting a family or looking for a more relaxed pace of life. 

The city offers a harmonious blend of historical charm and modern convenience, making it a suitable choice for individuals from various walks of life.

Real Estate Prices in Manchester vs. Leeds

big house
Source: Freerange Stock
Manchester generally has a higher cost of living compared to Leeds, with housing costs being approximately 9% more expensive in Manchester. 

This is reflective of Manchester’s status as a bustling, cosmopolitan city with a range of amenities, cultural offerings, and employment opportunities, which typically drive up living costs, including real estate prices.

Real estate pricing is a domain where Leeds holds an advantage. Leeds’ property market presents a variety of housing options that are generally more affordable compared to Manchester.

Property TypeManchester (£/m²)Leeds (£/m²)
Single-Family Home  £10,815.67£9,113.76 (City Centre 1-bedroom Apartment as a reference)
Condo Apartment £4,086.26£4,750.21 (Price per Square Metre to Buy Apartment in City Centre as a reference)

Note: Figures should be multiplied by the accounted square metres based on the property you’ll find in both cities. This is an approximation found in a statistical study at Numbeo.

Diversity and Demographics in Manchester vs. Leeds

kids singing
Source: OnlySky Media
Leeds has seen an 8.0% increase in population between 2011 and 2021, reaching around 812,000. 

Meanwhile, Manchester has experienced a more rapid growth, with the population increasing by almost 20% between 2001 and 2011 and reaching 552,858 in 2023.

In terms of ethnic diversity, both cities are quite diverse, but Manchester has a higher percentage of non-white populations, with 33.3% of the population identifying as non-white from 2011 to 2023. 

Compared to Leeds, where 21.0% of the population identified as non-white in the same time span.

In terms of land area, Leeds also surpasses Manchester. The city of Leeds spans 26,788 acres, and the Leeds City Region covers 557,000 acres. In contrast, the city of Manchester occupies 18,743 acres, and Greater Manchester spans 276,700 acres. 

This means that despite having a larger land area, Leeds has a higher population, leading to a denser city compared to Manchester. To get you a better perspective, below is a table that showcases the demographics of both cities:

Manchester Leeds
Population GrowthIncreased by almost 20% between 2011 to 2023.Increased by 8.0% between 2011 and 2023.
Population (2023)552,858 812,000
White Population66.7% 79.0% 
Asian Population17.1% 9.7% 
Black Population8.6% 5.6% 
Mixed Race Population4.7% 3.4%
Population Density (people/sq mile)11,650 9,450 
Sources: UK Population Data; Office for National Statistics

Career Opportunities in Manchester vs. Leeds

job illustration
Source: PXHere
Leeds is recognized as a significant centre in the North, hosting prominent tech entities such as FDM and BJSS, and presenting numerous opportunities for graduates in tech fields.

Conversely, Manchester, often referred to as the ‘Northern Hub’, presents a vibrant lifestyle and a broad spectrum of professional prospects. 

Renowned organisations like BBC have chosen to establish their operations in the city, contributing to its diverse career landscape.

When comparing the career opportunities in Manchester and Leeds, it is evident that both cities offer competitive salaries across various sectors. 

However, Manchester has a slightly higher average salary per year compared to Leeds. In specialised roles such as Software Engineering and Project Management, Manchester also offers higher average salaries. 

Manchester Leeds
Average Salary£32,000£31,000
Software Engineer£36,080£32,114
Software Developer£31,180£31,164
Marketing Manager£34,062£31,313
Project Manager£43,215£35,013
Source: Payscale

This slight edge in salary, coupled with the diverse job market, makes Manchester an attractive option for professionals in these sectors. 

However, the difference is not substantial, and Leeds also presents robust career opportunities with competitive compensation, especially when the cost of living is considered.

Lifestyle in Manchester vs. Leeds 

lifestyle illustration

When comparing the lifestyles of Manchester and Leeds, it’s crucial to consider the unique characteristics and offerings of each city. 

Both cities boast a rich tapestry of cultural, recreational, and social opportunities, but they cater to different preferences and lifestyles. 

Manchester is known as the ‘Rainy City’ with frequent showers, resulting in a preference for indoor activities. Meanwhile, Leeds has fewer rainy days, making it more suitable for outdoor enthusiasts.

With the weather in Manchester, in general, the temperatures are more moderate, with mild summers and cool winters. But the pervasive cloud cover and damp conditions can be a consideration for those who prefer more sunny days. 

Although, it also lends a certain charm and cosiness to the city, perfect for those who enjoy indoor activities and have a penchant for cosy cafes and bookshops.

Leeds, conversely, enjoys a slightly more favourable weather profile. It receives less rainfall compared to Manchester, allowing for more dry and sunny days. 

The winters are chilly, and summers are pleasant, making it suitable for outdoor enthusiasts who love to explore parks, trails, and outdoor events. 

Manchester is celebrated for its football heritage, cultural attractions, and nightlife, while Leeds boasts a diverse culinary and shopping scene, rich history, and ample outdoor activities, making both cities ideal for a variety of interests.

Overall, Manchester and Leeds are both vibrant cities teeming with recreational and leisure opportunities.

But Manchester is a city where art and history converge, offering a plethora of museums and galleries for those who seek cultural enrichment. Its architectural marvels and diverse nightlife scene are other attractions that make it a must-visit.

Leeds, on the other hand, is a place where you can explore diverse food, historic sites, enjoy live music, and immerse yourself in the local arts scene. Its green spaces and outdoor activities are a bonus for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Whether you’re into sports, arts, history, or outdoor activities, both cities have something unique to offer, ensuring a rich and varied experience for residents and visitors alike.

stethoscope, ballpen and log book
Source: HealthNow

Both Manchester and Leeds, being significant urban centres in the UK, boast commendable healthcare services, ensuring the well-being of their residents. 

Leeds is known for its strong and user-friendly public healthcare system, acting as a reliable support for all residents and addressing diverse medical requirements. Similarly, Manchester has extensive public healthcare services and updates facilities.

The city is committed to maintaining a healthy community by making quality healthcare accessible to everyone.

Similarly, Manchester takes pride in offering extensive public healthcare services, equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities and distinguished medical experts. 

The city is consistently working towards enhancing healthcare services and accessibility, reflecting its dedication to the well-being of the public.

When it comes to economic aspects, the average salary in Manchester is approximately £2,956.81, slightly higher than Leeds, where it is around £2,577.83. 

This difference in income levels may impact the residents’ ability to afford healthcare services, although the presence of public healthcare mitigates this to a large extent.

Manchester vs. Leeds: The Verdict

The journey through the contrasting tapestries of Manchester and Leeds reveals two cities, each with its unique charm, character, and offerings. 

But overall, both Manchester and Leeds have a lot to offer. Each also has deal-breaker things that can ultimately affect your decision on which city will become your next home! In a nutshell, it still depends on your lifestyle and personal preference. 

Factors The Better City Why 
Cost of Living LeedsLeeds has a lower average monthly living cost (£1,650) compared to Manchester (£1,800), making it more affordable for residents.
Real Estate LeedsLeeds offers more affordable housing options, with property prices per square metre significantly lower than in Manchester.
Diversity and DemographicsManchesterManchester has experienced more rapid population growth and has a more ethnically diverse population, with 33.3% identifying as non-white, compared to Leeds’ 21%.
Career Opportunities ManchesterManchester offers a slightly higher average salary (£32,000) and more diverse job market, especially in specialised roles like Software Engineering and Project Management, making it more attractive for professionals.
Lifestyle TiedManchester offers a vibrant and cosmopolitan lifestyle, rich in music, arts, and sports, suitable for those who prefer dynamic urban living. Leeds, however, offers a more relaxed and culturally enriched lifestyle, with a focus on history, art, and green spaces, ideal for those who value tranquillity and cultural experiences.
Related topics