5 reasons techies and digital start ups should move to Leeds

5 reasons techies and digital start ups should move to Leeds
Leeds has plenty to offer: a huge centre with all the high street names you would expect (including a new John Lewis), but plenty of character, too. From the Corn Exchange and newly-refurbished Market Hall (which offers quality pop-up food venues as well as traditional market fare) to clubs, pubs and cinemas there is plenty to keep you entertained. Look above the shopfronts to the rooflines and you’ll see some fabulous architecture to evidence its 400 or so years of history.

When it comes to employment opportunities, Leeds is growing all the time, particularly in the fields of digital, health and financial technology. Here are just five reasons why you should consider moving to Leeds if you work in or run a business in these modern industries...

1. Leeds is already an established hub for digital tech

Leeds is fast becoming a central hub for digital and tech expertise. Employment in the digital tech industries in Leeds grew by an impressive 7% in the years 2011 to 2014 and continues to grow steadily. Sky Betting and Gaming alone plans to create around 100 new jobs in Leeds plus an additional 40 places in their commercial and software academy, which they are establishing to train and keep talent in the Leeds area.

There are upwards of 3500 tech businesses already well established in the city – Stickyeyes and Twentysix (internet marketing giants), Branded3, Rockstar Games, Leidos and Ten10 to name but a few. Data science is also big in the city, with names like Open Data Institute and Equifax based in Leeds, and there are growing numbers of fintech companies too, including WorldPay and Contis.

2. Leeds is going to be home to even more big digital tech employers

HMRC is due to move around 6000 jobs to Leeds in 2020 in an effort to deliver a more modern, digitally-advanced tax service, following the successful move of NHS Digital to the city. HMRC will join NHS Digital in state-of-the-art purpose-built premises in central Leeds in order to offer flexible, modern working environments to their employees.

Simply put, their workers will be given the chance to move to a city that is vibrant and exciting – yet affordable to live in. It’s all part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ you’ve probably heard mentioned – an effort to decentralise industries away from London and balance the economy across the UK. The government clearly believes that Leeds is worth investing in and there will be plenty of jobs on offer over the coming years.

3. Leeds is affordable

Central Leeds is easily accessible by train or bus from any of the surrounding towns and villages. The M1 from north to south and the M62 from east to west practically run right through the city, meaning you could settle as far as Wakefield, Barnsley, York, Bradford or Selby and still be within commutable distance by train, bus or car.
GoldenAcrePark.jpgMany of the villages to the north, such as Menston, Guiseley or Ilkley are really beautiful – there are plenty of stunning period properties on the market. These villages are set in idyllic countryside within easy distance of the Yorkshire Dales and moors and yet are only a 20 minute train ride from central Leeds. The countryside is easy to get to wherever you are in Leeds, and there are some beautiful council-run country parks to enjoy on the outskirts, such as Golden Acre Park and Roundhay Park.

Where you decide to settle will depend on your budget – but the house prices are far below what you’d expect to pay around London and you are much more likely to be able to get your foot on the property ladder near Leeds.

Commercial property space is much more affordable in Leeds than in London, too, at around £27.50 per square foot.

If you need to travel for work or pleasure, London is 2 hours away and Manchester is just an hour away by train. HS2 will shave some time off the journey to London, too, when it is completed.

4. Leeds is growing

leedsdockopt.jpgIn terms of population, foreign investment and business growth, Leeds is growing fast. New businesses have been opening up at around twice the national average, particularly in the retail and technology industries. The new Trinity Walk development which attracted many of the big names from London in retail and restaurants is now firmly established; meanwhile, Sky Betting and Gaming relocated its technology hub to Leeds Dock – yet another digital tech leader to find a welcome home in Leeds. If you’re thinking of moving your digital tech business to Leeds, you’ll be in good company!

5. Start-ups thrive in Leeds

Data supports the claim that Leeds nurtures its start-ups. The Start-up Cities Index lists the 25 best cities to start-up a business outside the capital, based on all sorts of information such as crime rates, house prices and culture. According to the most recent figures, Leeds comes in at number 6 in the whole of the UK.

Leeds City Council is to issue a £3.7m grant for tech projects, and Gameslab Leeds will continue to invest in games studios in the city. There is also a ton of work being done by the city’s three universities, tech companies and the council to grow talent at the grass roots, with degree-level apprenticeships and boot camps being created. There is also The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, which can provide support and funding to get your business up and running. You may even decide to base your business at the Leeds Digital Hub, a co-working space run by Leeds Beckett University in cooperation with The Yorkshire Post – it is already used by over 200 businesses across various tech industries.

Moving to Leeds?

If you are thinking of moving to Leeds or are drawn to working there, take advantage of the lower house prices in the surrounding areas. Plan a visit – perhaps stay somewhere just outside the centre where you might consider living and ‘commute’ to the centre to see what your working day would be like. If you decide to move to Leeds, don’t forget that self-storage can be useful when organising your possessions and business equipment. You can keep it safe, clean and dry whilst you establish your business premises and get your working space looking just as you would like before moving in properly. We offer affordable, flexible storage arrangements at our three storage facilities located in central Leeds and on its outskirts so feel free to get in touch if you're moving to the area.

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