Affordable, central, well-connected and cosmopolitan, Leicester is a popular choice for property buyers.
For seasons to come, winning the 2016 Premier League is likely to be the single event that Leicester is best known for.
But this east Midlands’ city offers a lot more for the longer-term too, including a strong economy, diverse and interesting leisure pursuits, major redevelopment and – as Britain’s first European Sustainable City – plenty of green spaces too. All good news if you are planning to buy a home there.
What to expect living in Leicester
Sitting right in the centre of England, Leicester is a vibrant hub of culture, heritage and modernity, offering easy access to the rest of the country.
But while its transport links make it prime commuter territory, Leicester is also a popular place to work as well as live – and ranked highly in Totally Money’s Best Places in the UK to Make a Living survey.
You’ll find a wide range of industry in Leicester, including engineering, manufacturing, retail and food and drink. Education is also a major employer, with its internationally-renowned institutions – Leicester University and De Montfort University.
And existing employment opportunities only look set to grow under Leicester City Council’s Economic Action Plan, which seeks to secure investment and create jobs, apprenticeships and new businesses in the city.
This, combined with the city’s affordable housing, reasonable cost of living and natural surroundings (sitting just on the edge of the National Forest), makes Leicester an ideal place for professionals, students and young families alike.
Property prices in Leicester are distinctly reasonable compared to other areas of the country. Current average values in the city sit just north of £200,000 according to Zoopla data, although of course, there’s plenty on the higher end of the market.
Where to start your property search
The city centre of Leicester is mainly characterised by its many redevelopments. Former industrial and office buildings, even churches, have been converted into stylish modern flats, penthouses and loft apartments. Prices and desirability make these ideal for either first-time buyers, buy-to-let investors or city professionals.
Apartments are also available in specific new-build complexes such as Freemens Meadow.
Also within the city centre, keep an eye out for property opportunities arising from the ongoing multi-million-pound regeneration of disused industrial land around the River Soar. This development is tipped to become a thriving neighbourhood of family housing and apartments, office space and light industry.
If you are in the market for something more suburban, Aylestone, Little Stretton, Knighton Fields and Evington are popular locations around Leicester, offering both period and modern terraces, semis and detached properties – as well as flats.
A little further outside the city limits of Leicester sits Wigston. A postcode survey carried out by Royal Mail in 2015 identified Wigston as the most desirable place to live in Leicestershire, and the 11th most desirable in England. Definitely worth a look.
Six miles from the centre of the city is the town of Syston, where you'll find amenities such as supermarkets, pubs, high-street shops, a library and a leisure centre. The new-build homes at Liberty Gardens are just a short walk from the town and all its facilities.
Getting around in Leicester
One of the best-connected cities in the UK, Leicester is located at the epicentre of the nation’s road and rail network.
Train: The rail network, operated by East Midlands Trains and CrossCountry, offers services from Leicester station to Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham and over a dozen other towns and cities. Direct trains run regularly to London St Pancras, with a journey time of just over an hour.
Car: The M1 is just next to Leicester and provides a direct run to Sheffield and Leeds to the north, and London to the south. It also offers links with other major motorways and A-roads, such as the M40, M6 and A1, for access to the east and west.
Air: East Midlands Airport is just a 30-minute drive away, and offers direct national and European flights, as well as links to international destinations. Ryanair, Flybe, Aer Lingus and Thomson are among the airlines operating from the airport.
Things to do in Leicester
Leicester offers a range of activity and entertainment all within a pretty compact setting. Here are some examples of how you could spend tour time there:
Shopping: The largest shopping centre in Leicester is Highcross. It’s crammed full of big brand names, eclectic food and dining venues and has a 12-screen cinema.
The more affordable Haymarket Shopping Centre and Leicester Market is close by as well as the network of busy lanes with their independent emporiums, boutiques and coffee shops. Church Gate is home to some of the oldest and more traditional shops in the city.
Sport: Leicester City Football Club has to be first on the list in terms of the city’s sporting accolades, having shot to fame and notoriety by defying the 5,000-1 odds and wining the Premier League in 2016.
But this shouldn’t overshadow the many other sporting clubs in the city, which include Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Leicester Tigers Rugby Club, Leicester Lions Speedway and Leicester Racecourse.
History and heritage: In 2013, Leicester became internationally renowned as the resting place of Richard III, whose remains were found beneath a car park and were subsequently reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.
The city has responded to public interest since then by opening a dedicated King Richard III visitor centre. You’ll also find walking tours and audio trails.
Other historic buildings and museums in the city include the Abbey Pumping Station, Belgrave Hall and Gardens, the Guildhall and the Jewry Wall, which was once part of a Roman bath complex.
Attractions: Leicester’s National Space Centre boasts six galleries and the UK’s largest domed planetarium. A fascinating day out for families and space enthusiasts, visitors can view space suits, rockets, satellites and meteorites and explore the universe via interactive displays.
The 42-metre-high Rocket Tower also houses Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets, as well as the Gagarin Experience, Apollo Lunar Lander and real Moon Rock.
Festivals and fun: Many of the region’s biggest festivals take place in Leicester, including comedy and music events along with cultural and community celebrations.
They include the Leicester Caribbean Carnival, the Rathayatra Chariot Festival, the Leicester International Music Festival, Leicester’s Summer Food and Drink Festival and Diwali Celebrations along the colourful Golden Mile.
A must-do in Leicester
Check out Narborough Road, a mile-long stretch of quirky second-hand shops, bars, cafes and restaurants that’s become officially known as ‘the most diverse street in England’.
5 reasons to live in Leicester
Lots of regeneration, new-builds and conversions
Green space – Leicester City Council looks after more than 130 parks and open spaces across the city
A vibrant calendar of events
Decent ratio of earnings to cost of living
Range of property types at affordable prices