“Increasingly popular with young professionals and families commuting in and out of Leeds, Wakefield was named as the third happiest city in Yorkshire in 2014”
Moving to Wakefield
Located midway between England’s coasts and the Pennine Hills to the west, this small city south of Leeds has endless charm from the outset. Wakefield is drenched in history, having welcomed travellers since the Roman Age – and if that wasn’t enough, Pontefract Castle still holds 11th century cellars open to the public for exploration. Upon entering the city, the majestic building that is Wakefield Cathedral entices you to discover its secrets, and local legend even has it that the famous outlaw Robin Hood resided in Featherstone during the Middle Ages.
Currently home to around 80,000 residents, Wakefield has seen a spate of regeneration projects over the last few years, including the addition of the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, the development of the ‘Wakefield Waterfront’ and the opening of a gallery named after famed local sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Increasingly popular with young professionals and families commuting in and out of Leeds, Wakefield was named as the third happiest city in Yorkshire in 2014 – something to be proud of indeed.
House prices in Wakefield
As of 2017, the average house price in Wakefield is around £180,000, significantly lower than the UK average. For first-time buyers thinking of moving to Wakefield, Featherstone currently has the lowest average house prices at around £130,000, making it a top choice for students and young couples. However, prices are increasing rather rapidly with a jump of 5% in 2015 alone. On the other hand, Pontefract records higher living costs, with family-friendly detached properties estimated at an average of £235,000. Just south of Pontefract, Darrington has some of the highest prices in the area with detached properties selling for around £265,000 on average, although with prices here falling over the last decade, it could be a good time to invest.
“As of 2017, the average house price in Wakefield is around £180,000, significantly lower than the UK average”
Wakefield is served by the A1, M62 and M1, with Ossett lying a mere 1.5 miles away from Junction 40 of the latter. What’s more, Pontefract has three train stations connecting to York, Sheffield, Leeds, Wakefield City Centre, Bradford and London, ideal for family day trips For shorter journeys, 48 bus services under Arriva Yorkshire run via Wakefield City Centre every day, which is a profound help to retired residents. Public transport has been further integrated with the addition of a £6 million bus station adjacent to Castleford’s train station, making travelling effortless for its 12,000 users every day.
While the abundance of entertainment, shops and restaurants in buzzing Leeds is just 10 miles away, Wakefield residents who choose to stay closer to home can still benefit from a surprisingly good selection dining spots and retail centres. Restaurants vary from the popular South American Brazuca Rodizio Bar & Grill to traditional British grub at The Cow Shed, with a host of charming independent spots, well-known local chains and cosy pubs in between.
As for shopping, the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre transformed the faded centre of Wakefield when it opened in 2011, and these days is home to an array of shops, cafes, and nearly 1000 parking spaces. It sees around 11 visitors annually, coming to shop ’til the drop in stores including Argos, H&M and JD Sports before a relaxing meal at Pizza Express or The Chinese Buffet.
Meanwhile if it’s designer gear you’re after, Junction 32 Outlet Village in Castleford is the ideal spot to pick up bargains from well-known brands such as Barbour, Levi’s and Moss Bros.
Wakefield is well-equipped with supermarkets, ranging from Tesco and Asda to budget alternatives like Lidl and Aldi. Alternatively, for something a little different Castleford has an indoor market and specialist cheesemongers, Cryer and Stott, a family-run business with 70 years of experience in producing the finest cheese varieties.
Health & Sport
As well as branches of national gym chains Total Fitness, PureGym, Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing and Bannatyne Health Club, Wakefield also has a number of good golf clubs for those who prefer to get their exercise in the fresh air. For something a little different, however, there’s always the SnoZone or Pugneys Watersports Centre.
Wakefield has a wealth of museums and historical sites, including the National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield Cathedral and the impressive Pontefract Castle, just a short journey to the west of Wakefield. Other cultural highlights include the Clarence Park Music Festival and the Theatre Royal Wakefield, whilst the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in nearby West Bretton offers a permanent display of sculptures by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin.
“Schools in Wakefield are generally very good, and the area ranked 21st out of all of the local education authorities in England & Wales in 2013”
Schools and Education
Schools in Wakefield are generally very good, and the area ranked 21st out of all of the local education authorities in England & Wales in 2013 with 66% of pupils achieving 5 A*-C GCSES. Leading primary schools in the area include Darrington CofE Junior School, Ossett Southdale CofE Junior School, and Gawthrope Community Primary School. For older children, the independent Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Outwood Grange Academy and the state King’s School Specialising in Mathematics and Computing are among the best secondary schools in Wakefield.
At present, crime rates in Wakefield are around 94 crimes per 1000 people, lower than nearby Leeds and Bradford. However, anti-social behaviour and violent crime rates in the area are higher than the England and Wales average. Wentbridge and Grange Moor are some of the stastically safest areas in Wakefield and surrounds.
Green spaces and parks are common in this area, with Anglers Country Park and Haw Park Wood both Green Flag Award winners, and Walton Colliery Nature Park filled with pretty lakes and ponds. Furthermore, the Grade II-listed Friarwood Valley Gardens celebrates an awe-inspiring lantern festival every October, and is a popular, picturesque spot all year round.