Posted on 26th January 2018, by James Howell
London might seem like the most opportunity rich and career-beneficial to start your career but it is not for everyone.
As we discussed last week, London might seem like the perfect place to start your graduate career, with its exciting lifestyle and wide ranging wealth of graduate opportunities. But, if we're honest, the capital might not be for you. The hustle and bustle can be too much for even experienced Londoners and there's always the expense of living in the place.
So what about elsewhere? Can other UK cities match London's power of opportunities and rich culture? Well of course – let's broaden our horizons!
The UK's second city is undergoing rapid transformation and over the last 20 years Manchester has become a serious target for many graduates. Not only does it offer a similar range of opportunities in areas like Banking with Cooperative Bank, or fantastic Management opportunities, Manchester offers a valid alternative to London long term.
But can Manchester compete with London's lifestyle? In a word, yes. Manchester's cultural heritage goes almost toe-to-toe with London with a wide array of cultural hotspots in theatre (The Lowry), art (Manchester Art Gallery), musuems (Museum of Science and Industry) and music (Manchester Arena and Manchester Academy). It is also much cheaper to live in Manchester, with Numbeo estimating rent prices are 60% lower!
Also considered UK's second city, Birmingham is a thriving hub of activity and opportunity. The largest city in the UK behind London, Birmingham has also seen a transformation in recent years – typified by the refurbishment of New Street Station. For graduates, Birmingham is home to some massive organisations who are looking to recruit graduates to the city. The breadth of opportunities may not be as wide as the capital, but there are plenty of Birmingham Finance roles as well as Insurance Birmingham opportunities.
Birmingham life can offer a much higher quality too. Rent prices are 61% cheaper, according to Numbeo, compared to London which allows graduates to enjoy more of the finer things the west midlands city might have to offer. And if it is culture you want, Birmingham have it by the bucket load with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Hippodrome and an array of delights in the Jewellery Quarter.
Leeds is already a bustling and bubbling student city and many graduates choose to remain in the Yorkshire city. The historic city is rapidly becoming a tech capital in the UK and is already rivalling London's Silicone Roundabout. Technology graduate jobs in Leeds are on the rise as the city champions tech innovators like Sky Betting and Gaming and TPP.
Nestled in the centre of West Yorkshire, Leeds offers much more for a graduate's hard earned pound. Rents are again 61% cheaper than London (Numbeo) but the city has as much to offer. With the West Yorkshire Playhouse, historic arcades for shopping as well as sensational nightlife, Leeds can more than hold its own when it comes to culture and lifestyle.
You rarely hear a bad word said about Bristol and there's a very good reason for that. Bristol is an unbelievable city to be a university leaver in. Some of the awesome opportunities in Bristol in Digital and Technology rival and even exceed some of the other cities on this list, and that's including amazing companies close by like Dyson and Just Eat.
But Bristol's culture is where the city comes into its own. The Bristol Old Vic, Portishead, Trip-Hop, Massive Attack, Banksy, Spike Island, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and only down the road is Glastonbury. Add this to the fact rent prices are 41% cheaper than in London it should be high up on any graduate job hunter's list of potential destinations.
London is the answer for many graduates, but shouldn't be the only answer for where to start your career. Many UK cities have their own unique charms and unique opportunities so be open to starting your career anywhere!