EnglandLeicestershireCity of Leicester
City of Leicester

City of Leicester

After hitting the headlines with the discovery of King Richard III and a surprising Premier League win, this underrated Midlands city is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. So what's it really like to live in Leicester?

“…with a boost in tourism following the discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton underneath a car park in 2012, Leicester is suddenly seeing a well-needed surge in popularity”

Moving to Leicester

Although it may be the biggest urban centre in the Midlands with 330,000 residents, Leicester has regularly found itself neglected in favour of more picturesque Midlands cities such as Nottingham. However, with a boost in tourism following the discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton underneath a car park in 2012 as well as Leicester City FC’s surprising Premier League win, Leicester is suddenly seeing a well-needed surge in popularity.

Lively and vibrant, the city benefits from a culturally diverse population partly caused by mass waves of immigration here following World War Two, leading to large Indian and Asian communities. Over 70 languages are spoken in Leicester, with 16% of residents speaking Gujarati, making it the second most common language here after English.

Leicester has historically struggled with deprivation and poverty, and while the situation is improving there are still many residents in need of aid. Youth employment was at over 23% in 2015, while 32% of children in the city were living in poverty in 2013. On average, disposable income here is £5,000 less annually than the UK average, although property prices are also slightly lower here. The council are aware of the need for change, and have continued to invest money into Leicester in an attempt to bring in new residents and boost the economy. As the base of IBM in the UK Leicester is somewhat of a business hub, and a concentrated environmental program has led to the city becoming Britain’s first European Sustainable City.

House prices in Leicester 

As of 2017, house prices in Leicester are around £195,000 on average, lower than the UK average and rising at a rate of around 7-8% per year. The village of Wigston, south of the city centre, was voted the most desirable place to live in Leicestershire by the Royal Mail in 2015, while other sought-after neighbouthoods include Newton Linford, Knibworth and Oadby, where the University Botanical Garden is located. For those with a generous budget, Clarendon Park and Stoneygate are home to some of the city’s prettiest red brick properties, while the city centre offers stylish aparments for students and young professionals, and Alyestone is popularr spot for families seeking an affordable place to settle.

“The village of Wigston, south of the city centre, was voted the most desirable place to live in Leicestershire by the Royal Mail in 2015″

Travel

Leicester station offers trains to major stations around the country, including Birmingham and London, the latter of which can be reached in around an hour. Drivers benefit from being close to the M1 for speedy trips both north and south, while within the city itself there’s a wide network of buses and a Park & Ride to reduce traffic and congestions. For international travel, East Midlands Airport is less than 20 miles away and despite its small size offers flights to 63 destinations across Europe.

Lifestyle

With two shopping centres and a maze of small streets packed with independent shops, there’s certainly enough retail opportunities in Leicester to keep local shoppers happy. High Cross Shopping Centre and Haymarket Shopping Centre offer all the high-street stores you could want, ranging from John Lewis and Debenhams to Allsaints and Apple, as well as a multi-screen cinema, while for more unique purchases the boutiques of the Lanes and Church Gate always have plenty of interesting wares to browse and buy.

As the home of Walker’s Crisps, Leicester has somewhat of a foodie history, and this reputation continues into the present day with an excellent array of Asian restaurants, particularly around Belgrave Road, known colloquially as the ‘Golden Mile’ for it’s mouthwatering curry houses and sparkling jewellery shops, with favourites including Sharmilee Restaurant and The Curry Fever. An array of other cuisines can also be found throughout the city, from high street favourites such as Ask Italian to cool Caribbean spot Turtle Bay, as well as Le Bistrot Pierre for fans of French food.

Leicester is also home to a packed schedule of annual festivals for food, film, comedy and more, with the latter attracting 100,000 visitors every year to see well-known stand ups and new faces take to the stages.

Groceries

You’ll never be short of places for food shopping in Leicester – as well as multiple branches of major supermarket brands such as Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco, the city is home to a number of international supermarkets, and the largest outdoor covered market in Europe in the form of Leicester Market.

Health & Sport

Leicester City FC made headlines around the world in 2016 when they won the Premier League in 2016 with odds of 5000-1, but football isn’t the only area of sporting prowess here. There are numerous gyms and sports facilities throughout the city, including branches of national gym chains such as The Gym, Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing and PureGym, as well as council-run services such as the Sanford Lane Sports Centre. For something a little more adventurous, head to nearby Rutland Water in Oakham for a selection of water sports ranging from sailing to kayaking.

Culture

Leicester is rarely touted as one of the UK’s cultural hotspots despite the myriad of attractions and venues located here. From the Curve Theatre and ancient Jewry Wall to the fascinating National Space Centre, Leicester has a seemingly endless number of things to keep locals entertained. Leicester Castle offers a fun day out for the whole family, while the recent addition of the King Richard III Visitor Centre is proving extremely popular. Music fans will love the O2 Academy, whilst if it’s a peaceful day spent strolling in formal gardens that you’re after, Belgrave Hall and Gardens won’t disappoint.

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“From the Curve Theatre and ancient Jewry Wall to the fascinating National Space Centre, Leicester has a seemingly endless number of things to keep locals entertained”

Schools and Education

While Leicester has suffered from poor exam results in the past, schools here are improving and the universities bring in 30,000 students between them. In addition, both universities are well-respected, with De Montfort Universities regularly ranked within the UK’s top 80, and the University of Leicester voted 25th best in the UK by the Sunday Times in 2017.

Meanwhile for younger children, the leading primary schools in Leicester include St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, Abbey Primary Community School and Medway Community Primary School, while among secondary schools the English Martyrs Catholic School, Sir Jonathan North Community College and independent Leicester High School for Girls are all popular choices.

Safety

The average crime rate in Leicester is 91 crimes per 1000 residents, which is higher than the UK average, although this varies throughout the city. The affluent area of Oadby is statistically safer, while in general the western suburbs of Leicester see less crime than those in easter Leicester.

Green space

Environmentally-friendly Leicester has plenty of lovely, leafy parks spread throughout the city, so families are never too far from greenery. Leading parks in the area include Abbey Park, which offers formal gardens, a boating lake and a minter railway, and the University Botanic Gardens, while the charming Gorse Hill City Farm is home to over 100 animals, including donkeys, rabbits and sheep. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more adventurous day out, the Peak District National Park is around an hour’s drive away from Leicester.

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