When you move to a new city, it can be pretty tricky deciding which area to move to. You hear rumours about the dodgy bits, or the expensive bits, but very little information is available about what it's really like to live in a particular area. So, if you're deciding where to live in Leeds, let my little guide help you out!
Before deciding to make the leap to Chapel Allerton, Meanwood was my very happy home for 18 months. I don't know if I'm seeing it through rose-tinted glasses because of my wonderful housemates, or because it was my first adult house away from home, but I would definitely describe Meanwood as 'up-and-coming'. When I first started visiting, over three years ago, Meanwood was a little bleak but the opening of new shops, bars and the building of fancy new housing estates has definitely revived the area. Whilst it's not a direct challenge to the buzzing bars of Headingley or the hipster paradise of Chapel Allerton, it's definitely bridging the gap between the two and is a great place to live close to the centre of town.
I won't sugar coat it for you - Leeds has a ton of burglary hotspots, and Meanwood is right there near the top. However, it's no less safe than other areas of Leeds and as long as you keep your doors locked and your valuables tucked out of sight, you'll probably be okay. No promises of course, but I was never burgled. I also won't lie to you about the horrific traffic on Meanwood Road in a morning, or the terrible buses. If you leave after 8, you'll have a bitch of a commute and the buses will either come three at once, or not at all. Whilst at the weekend you can drive into the city centre in less than 10 minutes, no such luck during the week. But, is any commute perfect? Just leave enough time and don't trust the West Yorkshire Metro app - when it says a bus will be along in 2 minutes, it actually means 12.
But with the negatives out of the way, I want to assure you that I really did love living in Meanwood. It's convenient for work and for getting to both the city centre and other areas of Leeds. And, although there isn't a lot to do, there's everything you need. I've listed a few of my favourites below, fellow Meanwood-ians please feel free to add yours in too!
Rollette, the greasy spoon that isn't too greasy. The perfect place to get a hangover-friendly bacon baguette or some cheesy chips, it's cheap and cheerful as you'd expect. A great local cafe - you're sure to be a frequent visitor.
Okay, so this is part of the reason why Meanwood is 'up-and-coming' - the massive Waitrose right in the centre. It's beautiful, full of delicious treats and a few homewares to boot. Living nearby can be dangerous, as it's certainly not good for your bank balance, but who can resist?
East of Arcadia is part of the Market Town Taverns chain which also owns Arcadia and Veritas, and as such can seem a little soul-less. I like this bar, it's bright and airy, there's a good pub quiz on a Wednesday night (which is really hard!) and it serves fancy weissbeers and liqueur coffees. although the drinks are not particularly cheap. The food is okay, not much to write home about but good for pub food. It's just a nice place to go for a drink on a Friday night when you don't want to venture far from home. It won't be your favourite bar in Leeds, but you'll find yourself coming back in times of need.
On the other hand, Alfred is a bar full of soul (and a little pretension - not to be rude, I like it but seriously, everything is tastefully mismatched and there are a lot of lamps). Alfred is also part of a chain, owned by the same people as North Bar, Further North and The Crosskeys, but feels a lot more individual than East of Arcadia. It just has a very Leeds-y vibe to it, which you won't understand if you haven't lived here, but trust me, it's there. They mostly serve fancy beers and proper ales, and the only food served is a cheeseboard (and cake at the weekend). Not one I have frequented often, but it's nice to know it's there.
The ladies at Urban Beauty are absolutely lovely, there's just no denying it. Whether you want to get your hair did, your nails painted or your nethers waxed - they will do it for you at a reasonable price and throw in some happy chatter for free. I've been going here the whole time I've lived in Leeds and never had a bad experience - although I've now moved further away, I wouldn't consider anywhere else for my beauty needs.
A relatively new discovery of mine, but a very welcome one - Sania Spice is the most delicious curry in the Meanwood area and perhaps the whole of Leeds. It can be hit and miss when you stumble across a new takeaway, so let me guide you - go here. And nowhere else. They are super friendly, the currys are rich and flavoursome, and your meal will be pretty cheap all things considering.
I've saved the best until last here, as the jewel in the crown of Meanwood is surely Meanwood Valley Urban Farm. I used to be able to see it from my kitchen window, and it made the monotony of urban life just that little bit brighter.
So there you have it - some of the highlights of living in Meanwood!