As the cost of living rises, here are the best UK cities for graduates to live and work in.


As the cost of living rises across the country and working from home becomes the new norm for many, the graduate job search no longer needs to be isolated to the likes of London.

Instead, graduates can look further afield to alternative UK cities that offer a wealth of opportunities, along with a more affordable lifestyle.

New research by FDM reveals that Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow are the best places to work for graduates, based on the number of jobs, gender pay gap, rental costs, transportation costs, average starting salary, and even the price of a night out!

FDM comments: “As graduates enter the UK’s strongest job market in years, this is an exciting time to start your career. With a significant increase in the number of graduate jobs, there is a lot of opportunity across the country to find your perfect position in many UK cities.

“With this, it’s important to consider salary and the cost of living. While it can be tempting to chase the largest sum, keep in mind that where you live will play a big part in what you actually take home each month.”

Here are FDM Groups‘ top UK cities for graduates to live and work in:


Liverpool

With its unique combination of skyscrapers, a seafront, historic architecture, and legendary nightlife, Liverpool takes the top spot on FDM’s list. Offering a vibrant cosmopolitan culture in a smaller city setting makes this metropolis the perfect place to kickstart your career as a newfound graduate.

Dominated by service sector industries, Liverpool has over 7,000 jobs currently listed – with roles spanning public administration, education, health, banking, finance and everything in between.

This city also reports the lowest gender pay gap on the list, pointing to the efforts many companies in Liverpool have made to continue to close the gap.

Rent is much more affordable than in other large UK cities, with a 2-bedroom flat renting for around £800 per month. Graduates will also be happy to see a night out in Liverpool came in at the lowest of all the cities surveyed, averaging around £80.

In terms of wages, the average starting salary in Liverpool is £27,051.

Newcastle

With affordable properties, rich culture, and breathtaking countryside views only a short car ride away, it’s easy to see the appeal of living and working in Newcastle.

For graduates, this city offers the lowest property rental prices on FDM’s list, and salaries rivalling those of other big cities. With the average 2-bedroom costing £750 and the average salary coming in at £27,896, new starters will see their money stretch further in Newcastle.

Newcastle has over 6,000 jobs currently vacant – offering lots of opportunities for grads to find a role here. When it comes to transport, unlimited bus passes are available for £60 a month, and the cost of a night out is about £90.

Birmingham

Situated in the heart of the country, Birmingham is a fantastic place to work and live. As the second-largest city economy in the UK, Birmingham is set to grow by £1bn by the end of 2023 (CEBR).

With this, it’s no surprise there are plenty of opportunities for graduates here. As industries from healthcare to finance, insurance, and technical services thrive in Birmingham – career options are plentiful and there are over 12,000 jobs currently listed.

The median cost of a 2-bedroom flat comes in at £1,050, a staggering £1767 less than it would cost you in the capital. For entry-level jobs, the starting salary averages £28,290, and the price of a night out will run you around £85. The cost of transportation is also considerably lower than in many other UK cities, with a monthly adult bus pass priced at just £50.

Manchester

As one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, technology and e-commerce businesses are booming in Manchester, and there are many advantages to building a life here.

With this growth, job opportunities are plentiful, and Manchester has the most job vacancies on FDM’s index – listing an impressive 16,000 jobs. With affordable transport, an unlimited bus pass here will cost you around £50 a month, and rent will cost you approximately £1,230 for a 2-bedroom home.

For those interested in exploring Manchester’s exciting nightlife, a night out will come out to an average of £86. The average starting salary in this city is £27,000 for graduate jobs.

Glasgow

Last but certainly not least, Glasgow is known to be one of the friendliest cities in the UK, making it the perfect place to start your professional career and graduate life.

As a warm and welcoming city, Glasgow has a lot to offer, including a diverse economy – offering roles in industries such as engineering, tourism, education, and life sciences.

As Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow is not short of job opportunities, with over 7,000 roles currently being advertised. With rents averaging £925 for a 2-bedroom in the city, prices here are also considerably lower than in other large cities in the country.

Starting salaries come in at around £26,000, and transportation costs will be around £56 a month.


Are you interested in graduate opportunities? Check out FDM’s graduate programme to learn more.