Should I move to Cardiff?

UPDATED! As this piece is one of our most read, we’ll keep updating the main details, costs and facts. Last updated – January 2020.

I got an email recently from someone who had recently discovered the blog. I’ll call her Bethan. She sent in this very lovely email:

Over the past five or so years have fallen in love with Cardiff on my trips to visit. Following a trip this weekend I found your blog on my way back to London.

I’ve lived in London for the best part of the decade and am getting fed up with no money and a rubbish quality of life. Apologies for the slightly random email but I just wondered if you thought someone Londonified but loves Cardiff would be happy if they moved there? Or any challenges or tips you have?

My gut instinct is that I’d be very happy there as there’s so much on offer but in a much more friendly and welcoming place where you’re not bankrupted when you leave the house! Any thoughts etc would be greatly appreciated

Are you feeling like Bethan? Struggling in London, underpaid, bummed out, in need of fresh air, cheaper pints, in a city you can walk across? Then why not consider a move to Cardiff.

Here’s what I sent back to her.

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Hi Bethan!

If you’re getting fed up with being broke and having a rubbish quality of life, then I highly recommend Cardiff to you. I mean, I don’t know anything about you really, other than you have a friend in Caerphilly and you live in London, but I’m presuming you have a job you don’t mind much about leaving, and that you’re into the sort of thing we write about on We Are Cardiff, so that’s mostly what I’ve based this answer on.


I’m going to run through some reasons why Cardiff is awesome now. Also if you don’t believe me, there are STATS to support this, like the fact that the population of the city is currently growing at a faster rate than any UK city. People are moving here. Our secret is getting out!


Cardiff has a cheap cost of living for a capital city. It’s much easier to get by on a low salary here than somewhere in London – there are lots of house shares (particularly in Roath, Splott and Canton) where you can find a double room in a beautiful old Victorian terrace (very common type of Cardiff house) with like-minded people from £300 a month to £800 a month (including bills). I did a quick search on SpareRoom using the CF24 postcode (which covers Roath – a popular, artsy location near the university and close to town) just to sense check my figures and as you can see from this Cardiff room search on SpareRoom, there are loads of options within that price range.

There was a survey published recently that gave some actual figures which back up my abstract wafflings (I’ve included it in the links below – NOTE THESE FIGURES ARE FROM 2016, I AM SEARCHING FOR UPDATED ONES!)

  • Average weekly household spend of £384.60 compared to a UK average of £426.30;
  • Disposable income per head stands at £16,520, which is below the UK average of £17,559 but up 3 per cent on 2014 levels;
  • House prices are 6.6 times the value of salaries compared to a UK average of 8.8.

So! There you go on the stats. That’s enough of that.

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Well, I suppose it all depends on what you mean by quality of life, but going back to stats again, Cardiff achieved a life satisfaction score of 7.53 out of 10 (ONS data). From a completely subjective position, what that means for me is the following things (which you will see reflected throughout the We Are Cardiff content!):

  • varied nightlife (a whole bunch of pubs, clubs, bars, pop-up restaurants etc)
  • lots of artsy stuff going on (we’ve got the Welsh National Opera here, NoFit State Circus are based here, we have touring musicals and theatre on a weekly basis, there are loads of smaller scale cabaret type events all the time, circus skills workshops, hula hoop classes, open mics, writer’s groups, art exhibitions).
  • farmers markets, community gardens, a growing sustainability / green interest community
  • LOADS OF GREEN SPACES, like EVERYWHERE. The centre of town pivots around the castle and behind it, the endless green swathes of Bute Park. Nearly every neighbourhood has some super lovely park nearby
  • it’s 20-30 minutes drive to the gorgeous Brecon Beacons (MOUNTAINS!!!)
  • it’s zero minutes drive to the coast (WE ARE ON THE COAST!!!!)
  • there are castles everywhere (castle fact: Wales is actually the country in the world with the most castles – built and ruined)
  • if you like running, we have an awesome Park Run around Bute Park and Grangemoor Parks on the weekend
  • if you like cycling, the Taf Trail runs all the way from Cardiff to the source of the river Taf up in Merthyr Tydfil – you can take your bike up there on the train and cycle all the way back, stopping in pubs on the way, it is THE BEST
  • it’s very small so easy to get around on foot and bike
  • also because it’s small it’s to find  things you’re interested in and meet people / get involved in things
  • also because it’s small you bump into your friends! all the time! it’s lovely!
  • Bristol is only an hour on the train – loads of gigs and great nightlife going on there
  • if you like roller derby, we have one of the top women’s teams (go Tiger Bay Brawlers!)
  • I am in no way into sports (like, not at all) but we have LOADS of massive sports events here. I should really appreciate this more.

I don’t think this would be a reasonable email if I didn’t also tell you about some of the drawbacks of living here.

  • the smallness can be stifling for some people. I haven’t really experienced this, I think if you grow up here it’s more of a thing than if you move here from somewhere else (I have been informed by locally born and raised friends that on Tinder that you can run out of people to swipe right!)
  • we often get overlooked for gigs because Bristol is just an easier option, especially if bands are continuing north or the other way on to London. However, Bristol is easily visited in an evening (see above).
  • you might suddenly develop massive smugness at how much better your life is here and become unbearable to all your other friends. this is normal and hopefully should die down at some point (!)

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There have been countless reports and surveys released over the past year or so that frequently name Cardiff as the best city to live in (or one of) in Europe. I’ve included below a list of the most recent ones that might be of interest to you:

I’m not sure how much of We Are Cardiff you’ve looked through (there are, I just realised, over 700 posts on there now!!) but there are a couple of people who have written pen portraits of themselves and have similar pasts to you (ie they’ve come from other places and now live in Cardiff)



Now then – this next story is actually completely the other way round – it’s written by a guy who is from Cardiff but moved to London during the ‘bleak’ 90s, but then came across We Are Cardiff and wrote a blog post about it based on what he remembered of Cardiff as a youngster and his feelings about it now, and also a bit about his current life in London. I thought it was really fascinating reading and beautifully written which is why I posted about it:James – ‘It’s where you’re between’

Generally speaking to get what ‘the people’ are saying about Cardiff, flick through the ‘People‘ section on the website. Also I’d like to say I don’t edit anything for content – people are free to write what they want, I don’t in anyway force them to be positive about Cardiff, and again for balance I’ll point you to Lee’s post.

I have lived in loads of different places, but love Cardiff to pieces. It’s really friendly, there’s plenty of variety of nights out and places to eat and communities to join and things to do – if you’re into the alternative vibe, you’ll find lots of that here.

Also I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It was set up a few years back as a response to the mass of negative news reports we were seeing about Cardiff in the mass media (this was around 2010). Back then it was mostly pen portraits about Cardiff written by people that we knew – today obviously it’s a very different thing, but the aim of the blog is to showcase the variety of amazing things that go on here, and still interview people involved in the local scene. So it’s fabulous that you found it, and I’m pleased it’s making you consider a change!

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If you want to add your comments to anyone thinking about moving to Cardiff, please do so below!

All photos in this article by Doug Nicholls

28 thoughts on “Should I move to Cardiff?”

  1. This is all fine – except Pontcanna is obvsiously the best place to live. Right by the park, close to town, so many nice places to drink/eat etc.


  2. Some more disadvantages in Cardiff: council tax is extortionate, water also expensive, you have to pay for bulky waste collections and garden waste collections, a very poor bus service during the early mornings and Sundays – not every wants to drive to work. No visible LGBT area – how is this possible with universities and the fact that this is a capital city, in fact I believe Cardiff is the only European city without, except Vatican City. No integrated transport ticketing system; if you’re going to have several bus companies running routes make it a condition of tendering that they will accept a universal day/week ticket, the technology is already there within the Cardiff Capital Card- which is shockingly unadvertised. Horrendous dereliction of pavement and road maintenance, this is Wales not the lake district although during/after one of Cardiff’s frequent rain storms it is hard to distinguish between some roads and Buttermere.. The weather, does it actually stop raining for any length of time?


    1. Agree with most of this – Charles Street used to be gay gay everyday but then I’m too old to go out now, i walked down there the other day and no more bars down there, Shame, that was the best night out when I was younger. There are gay spots dotted around the city now but not in one place. But maybe that’s better than all shoved in one corner where you can avoid/ghettoise? Not sure.

      Also bulky item collection and garden waste – you can do bulky item pickup for free with Red Cross / Track 3000, etc, and garden waste the council picks up for free every other week anyway – either in green bins or white bags?

      Also as mum says no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothes. Seriously though the rain, can someone sort it please?


  3. Yeah, as a recent-ish incomer (3 years) who does love Cardiff, this article is a bit of a whitewash. The taff trail might be good, but cycling provision for most of the rest of the city is a cruel joke. Some of the so-called ‘cycle lanes’ are insulting. Traffic can be atrocious, and generally if you cycle you are treated as an aberration by many motorists. The litter throughout the city (and especially in Riverside, Grangetown, Splott etc) is appalling. Council services are squeezed to the limit-our main public library is no longer actually a library ffs, and vital services tend to be worse the more deprived an area is, and therefore the more essential they are. Also much of the new development is of a shocking quality, so-called redeveloped areas are full of derelict buildings, wasteland and disgusting, unoccupied flats, much of the city centre is little more than a temple to consumerism etc.
    That said, I still loves the ‘Diff, and none of this undermines the many advantages you highlight in your piece…but I am sick of being told about what an amazing, beautiful capital city this is when anyone could spend a week in Cardiff and become aware of a good deal of these shortcomings…


    1. Mostly agree, it’s a total dump, filthy dirty, horrendous crime rate, a public transport system that belongs in the middle ages,no health services,high unemployment,dreadful climate, and administrated by cretinous, racist trolls.


  4. Hmmm, I sort of agree and disagree with all of you. Council tax is expensive everywhere – I lived in Bristol before where it was way more expensive than Cardiff but then provision for cyclists is much better. Having said that thou house prices in Bristol crazy expensive – even shitholes like Easton now almost as much as Clifton when I first moved there nearly 15 years ago.

    Also the libraries thing is happening everywhere – try most London boroughs larger in population size than Cardiff without even a single library now??

    There’s benefits and drawbacks to everywhere. The traffic in Cardiff is absolutely crazy around rush hour – like tailbacks for miles and miles of people coming in to work here then leaving again (a470 – what is that about???). Also litter esp Riverside. I have seen giant refuse-bins like skips in the street outside apartments in Europe – impenetrable for seagulls, why don’t we have like those? Just wish we had a more progressive and open minded council like in Bristol, easier to access and make suggestions and affect change.

    Overall though I much prefer Cardiff to anywhere I have lived before. Cheaper to live, I live near Bute Park and my rent is not crazy expensive. People so much more friendly – actually talk to you at a bus stop??? It’s so nice!


  5. Been here just over 5 years now and we love it! I was born and brought up in London and although we lived in Hertfordshire for over 20 years before moving here, we both commuted into London for work. We love the fact we can walk into town although there are lots of buses, local shops, nice neighbours (first note through our door in Cardiff was to welcome us here, first note through our door in our old house was ‘move your car’!). So much going on – Chapter is a huge favourite! Cardiff is so central – a couple of hours to the wonderful Pembrokeshire beaches, and a couple of hours (by train) if you need to be reminded of how frantic life is in London! Need I say more?


  6. I should have also included in the drawbacks the council’s seeming obsession with trying to cram in as many blocks of disgusting flats as humanly possibly – although they seem to be focussing that obsession purely on Butetown and the Bay, so if you don’t live there, you aren’t likely to be bothered or even possibly see them.

    The council is actually another drawback. I’ve never found them particularly open to engagement or easy to work with, whenever we’ve approached them in the past with We Are Cardiff related projects. Shame really.


  7. I’m a London/Home Counties person moving to Cardiff in September so it’s been really useful reading this article and all these comments. The rubbish thing is something I’ve noticed every time I’ve visited Cardiff. But as for the traffic, I used to live in Guildford where it was known if you wanted to get anywhere between 4 and 7 on a week day you might as well walk. Towns and cities haven’t been designed to cope with this level of population so I think it’s going to be an issue most places you go. Same with the flats. And it’s all “luxury” housing built with average quality and sold at a ridiculous price. I want to move to Cardiff for the community, so I’ll be looking at the more traditional housing areas. I’m thinking around the Chapter Arts Centre. If anyone has any tips I’d love to hear them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cardiff is an excellent city to live in. It’s small enough to get around easily and the people are friendly. There are lovely beaches nearby in Barry and lots to do around the area. St Fagans museum of Welsh life is a must when visiting Cardiff.
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  9. I love Cardiff, it is quieter than other cities I have lived in but is also safer. The housing stock in Cardiff is of high quality and there are plenty of affordable old houses around crying out for a bit of renovation work. The one this I would say Cardiff needs more of is a night life there is the usual commercial offerings but not much else . There certainly are better bars appearing than the existed here before. Juno lounge is one such bar. There are many different vibes in different areas of town and moving to any area has its pros and cons. Of you ever need a removals company in Cardiff or the surrounding area give Go panda a go, they are great


  10. Should you move to Cardiff? Most definitely yes 🙂
    We’ve noticed a huge increase in a number of people relocating from other areas of both Wales and England to Cardiff. The city has undergone a huge transformation over the last decade or so and it’s great to see so many people wanting to live in our city.
    We recently wrote a guide aimed at people thinking of moving to Cardiff. I hope it’s ok to post a link
    Great article!


  11. Seems to be a split between people recommending either Roath side or Canton side, but honestly who can afford to live in either of these anymore??!? I wish I had the foresight to buy myself some shithole in Canton like 20 years ago when they would still give you 100% mortgage and I was on minimum wage and you could get a two bed for less than 100k. Now the house prices are through the roof. What’s the affordable neighbourhoods now? Even Splott is getting relatively expensive. I hear people moving out to Tremorfa – but it’s far from the centre and I want to be able to get in easily.

    What do other locals think about house prices???


  12. Although this might be a bit bias as I was born in Cardiff. I left at 19 way back in 1994 then 21 years later I moved back and it was the best thing I ever did. Ok, so Cardiff is not the Cardiff I left in 94, this is a city that continues to flourish and get better. Life is Soooo much better here and a lot less stressful. It’s no utopia but it certainly does offer a much higher quality of life without a big price tag.
    However.. Cardiff does have the worst public transport system for a capital. It needs to look at the likes of Newcastle who know how to move people around.
    Also the gay scene is dire!


  13. First time I was in Cardiff was 2008 & we just got back from there after 10 years and I’m literally so sad coming back Birmingham. I’m now going to look for jobs apportunity and pack my bags, tired for filthy Birmingham and after 14 years I think it’s time for me to try new thing. The natural, people are so friendly, the air so fresh and not to mention the beautiful Barry island. 💕💕💕


  14. Don’t worry about robbers in peaceful areas. And just incase someone does happen to rob you, hopefully they’re stupid and leave all the expensive devices such as £900 gaming PCs and modern game consoles and they’ll just steal a pencil case cause 2 of my friends got robbed and all they did was ruin their school books and steal an iPad which was the oldest model which probably sells for £2 and they left all the expensive stuff.


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