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Top 21 UK Cities for Graduate Jobs

19 February 2019
Besma Whayeb
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Did you know, over a quarter of graduates move to London for a job? The capital certainly has many jobs to offer, but with rising house prices and falling City jobs, perhaps you should consider the other 20 cities on our list?

We’ve researched many UK destinations to determine the best places to get a graduate job, taking into account affordability, local economy, and the number of graduate opportunities in the area. Here’s our list of the top 21 cities for new graduates – including London – so you can compare the pros and cons of each location.

1. Belfast

Local graduate employers: BBC, Big Lottery Fund, Citigroup, EY, NHS, PwC

Average monthly rent: £608

Average monthly wage: £2054

Overview: Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland, and is led by its public sector. Graduate jobs are plenty within health and social care, as well as education, and local government. Other notable employers in Belfast include the BBC, Big Lottery Fund, and Citigroup.

Search: Graduate jobs in Belfast

2. Birmingham

Local graduate employers: BBC, Cadbury (Mondelez), Deutsche Bank, Jaguar Land Rover, Pinsent Masons

Average monthly rent: £685

Average monthly wage: £2109

Overview: Birmingham is a bustling student city, which continues to grow with its working population and graduate opportunities. The city has its own banking and financial services hub, which is home to the likes of Deutsche Bank, PwC, and legal firm Pinsent Masons. The historic Cardbury’s chocolate factory still operates in the area, but is now owned by FMCG giant Mondelez.

Search: Graduate jobs in Birmingham

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3. Brighton

Local graduate employers: American Express, BUPA, Legal & General, Mott MacDonald

Average monthly rent: £1292

Average monthly wage: £1984

Overview: Brighton is a much sought-after location, and one that even Londoners flock to. The combination of its bustling city centre and idyllic beaches make it a hub for both commerce and tourism. Top graduate employers in Brighton include American Express, BUPA, Legal & General, and Mott MacDonald.

Search: Graduate jobs in Brighton

4. Bristol

Local graduate employers: Airbus, AXA, Aardman Animations, Boston Tea Party, Rolls Royce

Average monthly rent: £1025

Average monthly wage: £2189

Overview: Bristol is a lively student city with many job opportunities, making it the perfect location for new graduates. Alongside its busy airport, it’s home to insurance firm AXA, aerospace engineering giants Airbus and BAE Systems, as well as the arts (Aardman Animations, Hope Records).

Search: Graduate jobs in Bristol

5. Coventry

Local graduate employers: E.ON, Jaguar Land Rover, Jewson, Pizza Hut, Rolls-Royce

Average monthly rent: £593

Average monthly wage: £2129

Overview: Coventry is a university town in the West Midlands, England. It is well-known for its two universities: University of Coventry, and Warwick University. Together, they provide great links to jobs in the NHS, sports, business management, and more. Automobile manufactures Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce also employ a large number of engineering graduates, as well as those suited to their headquarters roles.

Search: Graduate jobs in Coventry

6. Derby

Local graduate employers: Sports Direct, Stagecoach, Swizzels Matlow, Thorntons, Toyota

Average monthly rent: £520

Average monthly wage: £2378

Overview: Derby is located in the East Midlands of England. It’s home to both the University of Derby, as well as multiple national businesses, such as Sports Direct, Stagecoach, and Thorntons. Derby is a promising starter city for graduates, with low rents and great salary prospects.

Search: Graduate jobs in Derby

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7. Edinburgh

Local graduate employers: KPMG, Kwik Fit, McVitie’s, RBS, Standard Life, TSB

Average monthly rent: £1027

Average monthly wage: £2390

Overview: Edinburgh is the second most-visited cities in the UK. As the capital of Scotland, it’s home to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, making for a strong local economy in tourism, politics, and business. Notable graduate employers in Edinburgh include KPMG, RBS, and TSB.

Search: Graduate jobs in Edinburgh

8. Glasgow

Local graduate employers: Lipton, Lloyds, Optical Express, RBS, Scottish Power, Tunnock’s

Average monthly rent: £858

Average monthly wage: £2104

Overview: As a graduate city, Glasgow has a lot to offer. Home to numerous sucessful national businesses, it employs graduates in the banking and financial services (Lloyds, RBS, Santander), FMCG (Lipton, Tunnock’s), healthcare (NHS, Optical Express), and energy (Scottish Power) sectors.

Glasgow has plenty to offer in the way of culture too, with art exhibitions, theatre, and festivals and events across the year.

Search: Graduate jobs in Glasgow

9. Leeds

Local graduate employers: Addleshaw Goddard, ASDA, EY, Leeds City Council, Royal Navy

Average monthly rent: £709

Average monthly wage: £2132

Overview: Leeds is a pretty market city in Yorkshire, North East of England. It is home to some of the most popular universities in the UK, and has a bustling catering and hospitality scene, alongside professional services careers with firms such as Addleshaw Goddard, and EY.

Search: Graduate jobs in Leeds

10. Leicester

Local graduate employers: British Gas, Jessops, Joules, Next, Walkers Crisps

Average monthly rent: £534

Average monthly wage: £1919

Overview: Leicester is a popular city in the East Midlands of England. With two universities, it’s a great destination for graduates and students alike. Graduate jobs and schemes can be found across a variety of industries, such as energy (British Gas), retail (Joules), and FMCG (Walkers).

Search: Graduate jobs in Leicester

11. Liverpool

Local graduate employers: Bibby Line, Boodles, DLA Piper, KPMG, Tate & Lyle

Average monthly rent: £499

Average monthly wage: £2046

Overview: Liverpool is one of the North of England’s largest cities. It’s well-known for its shipbuilding industry, and of course, The Beatles. The university city opens up into the financial services and legal sector, with notable graduate employers being Bibby Line, KPMG, and DLA Piper.

Search: Graduate jobs in Liverpool

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12. London

Local graduate employers: Bank of England, Cancer Research UK, Facebook, Metropolitan Police, Transport for London

Average monthly rent: £2512

Average monthly wage: £2250

Overview: London is a huge city, in terms of both population and physical size. It’s home to many big business’ headquarters, as well as thousands of small to medium businesses and start-ups, providing thousands of graduate jobs each year.

It can be hard to balance the books in London, with monthly rent payments on a one bedroom property spanning anything from £1022 (Walthamstow, E17) to £5299 (Soho, W1). If you’re set on living in London, consider living on the outskirts and commuting in – public transport is one of the city’s strong points.

Search: Graduate jobs in London

13. Manchester

Local graduate employers: Adidas, Betfred, The Co-operative Group, Deloitte, Stagecoach

Average monthly rent: £729

Average monthly wage: £2046

Overview: Manchester is the third most-visited city in the UK, with a great music scene, cultural heritage, and universities to boot. The city and surrounding area is home to many multinational business’ regional and national headquarters, including sportswear brand Adidas, supermarket chain The Co-Operative Group, and transport titans Stagecoach.

Search: Graduate jobs in Manchester

14. Milton Keynes

Local graduate employers: Domino’s Pizza, Mercedes Benz, The Open University, VMWare, Volkswagen

Average monthly rent: £940

Average monthly wage: £2475

Overview: Milton Keynes is a new town, based in Buckinghamshire, South East of England. It’s a great destination for graduates looking for local jobs, and those commuting into London. With many automobile manufacturers’ headquarters located here (Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Mercedes Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen), it’s a great place for new engineering and business graduates.

Search: Graduate jobs in Milton Keynes

15. Newport

Local graduate employers: GoCompare, Monmouthshire Building Society, Rowecord Engineering, Wales & West Utilities

Average monthly rent: £564

Average monthly wage: £1892

Overview: Newport is a university city in the South East of Wales. It’s home to the headquarters of GoCompare.com, as well as Rowecord Engineering and Wales & West Utilities, making it a great place to work if you have a degree in engineering or energy services.

Search: Graduate jobs in Newport

16. Northampton

Local graduate employers: Carlsberg, Dr. Martens, Maclaren, NHS, Weetabix, Whitworths

Average monthly rent: £646

Average monthly wage: £2034

Overview: Northampton is a student town based in the East Midlands, England. It’s home to the University of Northampton, which has strong links with the NHS and careers in midwifery. The town is also home to the UK’s Carlsberg factory, Dr. Martens, Weetabix factory, and Whitworths factory.

Search: Graduate jobs in Northampton

17. Nottingham

Local graduate employers: Boots, E.ON, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, HM Revenue and Customs, Speedo

Average monthly rent: £579

Average monthly wage: £1944

Overview: Nottingham is well-known for being a student city, with great music and nightlife. It’s also a great place to start your graduate career, with opportunities at a range of national and multinational businesses, such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Siemens, and Speedo. Nottingham is also home to the largest Boots Opticians as well as Vision Express stores, making it a haven for optometry graduates.

Search: Graduate jobs in Nottingham

18. Preston

Local graduate employers: BAE Systems, Booths, Carphone Warehouse, NetFlights, Network Rail

Average monthly rent: £534

Average monthly wage: £1918

Overview: Preston is a city in Lancashire, in the North West of England. It’s home to a number of defence and aerospace companies, including BAE Systems, a major graduate employer in the UK. Other graduate employers in the Preston area include Booths (high-end supermarkets), Carphone Warehouse, and Network Rail.

Search: Graduate jobs in Preston

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19. Sheffield

Local graduate employers: Barclays, Grant Thornton, NHS, PwC, Tata Steel

Average monthly rent: £596

Average monthly wage: £1897

Overview: Sheffield is a culturally rich city in South Yorkshire, England. Sheffield’s regeneration has taken it from being a steel manufacturing hub to one of finance, IT, and logistics. Major graduate employers in Sheffield include Barclays, PwC, and Grant Thornton, as well as industrial giants Tata Steel.

Search: Graduate jobs in Sheffield

20. Swindon

Local graduate employers: First Great Western, Intel Corporation, Nationwide, National Trust, WHSmith

Average monthly rent: £699

Average monthly wage: £2241

Overview: Swindon is based in Wiltshire, between the student cities of Bristol and Reading. The area has a healthy employment rate of over 80%, and a great rent to wage ratio. Top graduate employers in Swindon include the headquarters of the National Trust, Nationwide, and a Honda manufacturing plant.

Search: Graduate jobs in Swindon

21. Wakefield

Local graduate employers: HSBC, Wakefield Council, Whitbread, Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Average monthly rent: £521

Average monthly wage: £1932

Overview: Wakefield is a bustling market town based in West Yorkshire, England. The city has gone through a period of regeneration and is now an exciting place for graduates to set up, with two new retail areas – Trinity Walk and Ridings Shopping Centre – and art gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield. Top graduate employers in Wakefield include HSBC, Whitbread, and the headquarters of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Search: Graduate jobs in Wakefield

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Looking for more information on a career after university? Check out our guide to Graduate jobs, which explains what the UK job market is like, as well as providing useful lists of popular jobs, top employers, and ways to get your foot in the door.