Comment: Lovely Leeds and why it’s not so grim up north

Leeds has plenty to offer home-owners - for a fraction of the price we're used to paying

Leeds has plenty to offer home-owners - for a fraction of the price we're used to paying - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As any country-wide property-watcher can confirm, most parts of The North are vastly more affordable than Hertfordshire. Having just spent a lovely weekend in Leeds, I’m wondering why.

Like many northern cities - York and Manchester also spring to mind - Leeds is full of life and culture, with more shops, bars and restaurants than you can shake a flat cap at. Choose your area carefully and there are good schools aplenty, too.

I took a cab into the centre from my sister’s new house in a leafy Leeds suburb. The driver told me this was a posh area, with three-bed houses costing around £2-300,000. I didn’t say what that would buy down here for fear of sounding like a snooty southerner.

It’s an interesting matter of perspective – down here, a £200,000, three-bed house is as rare as flat vowels, yet to the cab driver it was considered the lower end of the norm in one of the smartest parts of town.

My sister’s house is a fixer-upper, but still pricey for those parts - and hugely more affordable than most parts of Herts. A St Albans equivalent would have cost in the region of £800,000.

Why do we live down here again? Great schools and rail links, proximity to London and so on – but is it worth it?

Two northerners I heard chatting on the train on the way up thought not. They were returning home from a work trip, and conversation inevitably turned to the price of property in the South East. One of them had friends who paid £450,000 for a garden flat in Acton. His mate couldn’t believe what he was hearing!

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They agreed that their quality of life was far better up north and these silly southerners were daft to spend so much on so little. Having just spent half an hour checking out the lovely Leeds pads I could swap my little piece of Herts for, I can certainly see their point - yet I still can’t see myself moving.