What it's like living in Leeds city centre as a young professional - from boozy nights to noise complaints

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I’d always dreamt of living in the thick of it in Leeds city centre; a nice little flat, a quick commute to work, and all my favourite bars and restaurants within minutes.

So, in 2021, I scraped together all the money I had and signed the lease for a beautiful one-bedroom apartment. It was a great year for me to make the move too, with a handful of my friends deciding to take a similar step so I wasn’t alone.

I felt right at home from the day I moved in and, if I’m honest, like I’d ‘made it’. Away from neighbourhoods filled with students and with a space I could call finally my own, I settled straight in and began to see my life transform into the stuff of films.

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My mornings were Parisian; I’d get up, throw on a pair of jeans and take myself to get a coffee and a pastry from Kirkgate Market, before strolling past the Corn Exchange on my way home, taking in the 9am hustle and bustle. I’d bump into endless amounts of people no matter what time of day it was, and I found myself forming close friendships with staff in bars and cafes I could now regularly frequent.

I’d always dreamt of living in the thick of it; a nice little flat in the Leeds city centre, a quick commute to work and all my favourite bars and restaurants nearbyI’d always dreamt of living in the thick of it; a nice little flat in the Leeds city centre, a quick commute to work and all my favourite bars and restaurants nearby
I’d always dreamt of living in the thick of it; a nice little flat in the Leeds city centre, a quick commute to work and all my favourite bars and restaurants nearby

I went out more in the evening and gained more confidence in doing things alone. No longer was I plagued with embarrassment at the thought of sitting by myself with my book; I revelled in the freedom.

I adored my life and living in the heart of such a great city – and still do. But as time passes, there are days when I find myself feeling claustrophobic. Leeds city centre is beautiful, but it can also be loud, boisterous and overwhelming. More and more often, I’m finding myself desperate to escape for a while, walk down a street I haven’t seen before, or sit in a pub that isn’t brimming with people.

Of course, a bit of solitude is easily achievable by getting on a bus to Meanwood Park or Otley Chevin, but when you’re so used to having everything on your doorstep you get lazy; a lack of curiosity keeps you close to home.

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Now, as my friends move back out of the city centre and into house shares with other young professionals in Headingley and Woodhouse, I’m starting to miss summer days on Woodhouse Moor and the joy of having a little garden in the spring. Window shopping on Rightmove has become a more regular occurrence, looking as far afield as Pudsey and Farsley for homes that offer some peace and quiet.

While it’s fun to browse and think about the next move, I’ve realised I’m not quite ready to give up on my city centre dream yet. Instead, I’ve been working to reignite my love for the area, whether that be stopping to listen to the buskers of Bond Street or chatting with the stallholders at the outdoor market.

My city centre hideaway won’t be my forever home, that I’m sure of, but on days when noise and crowds feel too much, it's important to remind myself that the life I’ve built, right in the heart of Leeds, is something I'll look back on fondly.

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