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Moving to Cardiff

Perched on the southern coast of Wales, Cardiff is surrounded by rolling green hills and a stunning coastline. The Welsh capital's skyline is a combination of modern skyscrapers and whimsical medieval castles, sprinkled with gorgeous Victorian architecture and the famous silhouette of the Millenium Stadium. Besides aesthetics, the city's exciting job market, fairly stable economy and high quality of life are luring residents from all over the UK as well as expats from further afield. 

Living in Cardiff

With so much to see and do in the city, it should come as no surprise that tourism is one of Cardiff’s top industries, providing ample employment opportunities in the city. Retail, finance and manufacturing are also thriving sectors, while Cardiff’s media industry, including television and film, is also rapidly gaining traction.

New arrivals moving Cardiff for employment purposes often remark on the positive work-life balance in the city. The common atmosphere at companies in Cardiff is friendly and open, and employees are respected and valued for their work.

That being said, this high quality of life does potentially come with lower earnings. Salaries in Cardiff are usually lower than one would find in a major UK city. Still, the low cost of living tends to balance things out, and most Cardiff residents live comfortably.

Cost of living in Cardiff

Compared to major cities in other parts of the UK, the cost of living in Cardiff is reasonable. Though the cost of renting or buying a home in Cardiff is rising rapidly, house hunters used to English, Scottish or Irish accommodation prices will generally find more affordable options in the Welsh capital, though costs do vary from area to area.

Excellent schooling can be accessed free of charge, and day-to-day expenses such as groceries are reasonably priced. With such a compact city centre and a decent public transport network, there's also little reason to own a personal vehicle.

Family and children in Cardiff

Cardiff is a wonderful place to raise a family. Many of the top schools in Wales are government schools in Cardiff, with a handful being singled out year after year for their excellent results. Catchment areas do apply, giving children who live nearby priority of admission, so it's wise to bear this in mind when deciding where to live.

New arrivals can expect good-quality healthcare in Cardiff, which is home to several excellent hospitals, including the Princess of Wales Hospital and the University Hospital of Wales.

The lifestyle in Cardiff is another of the city's major drawcards. Whether new arrivals are outdoor enthusiasts, party animals, culture vultures or shopping fanatics, there's something for everyone.

Climate in Cardiff

It won’t take long for new arrivals in Cardiff to notice the city’s perpetually wet weather. Having many times received the dubious honour of being named the UK’s wettest city, Cardiff is ripe for rain almost the whole year round, though it lets up a bit in March and April.

While moving to a new city can be daunting, those headed to Cardiff have much to look forward to. With welcoming locals, a gentle cost of living, exciting work opportunities and a family-friendly atmosphere, new arrivals are sure to feel at home in no time at all.

Weather in Cardiff

Newcomers to Cardiff should get comfortable with the idea of rain – though some years are rainier than others, Cardiff often ranks as the UK's wettest city.

The good news is that, despite frequent downpours, Cardiff's temperatures are manageable. June to August brings warm summers, with daytime temperatures averaging between 66°F and 72°F (19°C and 22°C). There's also a good amount of sunshine to be enjoyed during this time of year.

Cool, overcast winters occur from December to February, with maximum temperatures typically being around 48°F (9°C). The mercury rarely drops below freezing and snow is uncommon, only falling for an average of about three days a year.


Working in Cardiff

With a legacy of coal mining and shipping, Cardiff has been the powerhouse of the Welsh economy for centuries. Though the city has moved on from these once-prosperous industries, Cardiff remains the country's top earner, drawing workers from across Wales, the UK and the world over.

Job market in Cardiff

With an average of 21 million visitors a year, it's safe to say that tourism in Cardiff is booming, creating work for industry professionals. Service-related industries, such as retail and finance, are also big business in Cardiff, providing a significant percentage of the population with employment. Manufacturing, mostly of pharmaceuticals, is also a thriving industry, as is television, media and filmmaking.

Work culture in Cardiff

Newcomers to Cardiff are often attracted to the lifestyle that comes with working here. In general, Welsh employers tend to have policies that encourage good life-work balance. This can include benefits such as shorter working hours and more holiday time, though this varies from company to company.

Another upside is the short duration of the typical commute into Cardiff, and with the ocean on one side of the city and a national park on the other, most people enjoy a scenic commute.

It's well known that the Welsh are a rather friendly bunch, and Cardiff is no different. Newcomers can expect colleagues to be welcoming.

It shouldn't take too long for new arrivals to settle in and find their bearings – though the city centre is busy, it's compact and easily navigable.

Cost of living in Cardiff

Those new to Cardiff generally find the cost of living to be reasonable, particularly when compared to other major UK cities. It's estimated that the cost of living in Wales is, generally speaking, at least 15 percent lower than the cost of living in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. So while Cardiff may be the most expensive city in Wales, it's a great deal cheaper than the likes of London and Edinburgh.

Cost of accommodation in Cardiff

Most aspects of life are affordable in Cardiff, but the cost of accommodation is a sore point as rental and purchasing costs are continually rising. These price hikes are occurring all over the UK, but are especially pronounced in Wales. Still, accommodation prices here are generally more affordable than in other major UK cities, and well below the cost of housing in other capital cities.

New arrivals unsure of where to start should consult with a local estate agent, who will know the general price differences between areas and will have insider knowledge on bargains and new developments.

Cost of entertainment in Cardiff

Cardiff's stunning natural splendour provides plenty of free entertainment to locals, be it in the form of hiking or picnicking in its many green spaces, or a crisp seaside stroll. These activities are best on sunny days, but even when the wet weather drives everyone indoors, there are still many options, including visiting museums, galleries, indoor markets and local historical sites, all of which aren't too hard on the pocket.

Of course, Cardiff also has much to offer when it comes to shopping, nightlife and dining out, but the cost of these pursuits can add up quickly and should be budgeted for carefully.

Cost of groceries in Cardiff

One of the benefits of living in Cardiff is the cheap and easy access to high-quality local dairy and meat products. This limits the need to purchase pricey imports.

The cost of groceries can vary widely and largely depends on where a person shops. Shoppers heading to high-end supermarkets like Marks & Spencer and Waitrose can expect high prices for even the basics. Many people rather opt for mid-range supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, which offer a good balance of cost and quality. Good savings can be found at discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl.

Cost of transport in Cardiff

Cardiff is a fairly small city, and it's not strictly necessary to own a car, though it might be a good purchase for new arrivals intending to explore the Welsh countries or parents who need to cart the kids around.

The cost of public transport in Cardiff is reasonable, and between the bus, train and metro, the system is generally sufficient for most people's needs. Cycling is also a popular – and affordable – way to get around.

Cost of education in Cardiff

There are several well-respected public and private schools in Cardiff. While private schools charge fees and tend to be pricey, public schools can be attended for free. Some parents choose their future neighbourhood based on the nearby schools, since catchment areas determine admission priorities. Naturally, the best schools are often in the most expensive neighbourhoods.

Cost of living in Cardiff chart

These are average costs for Cardiff in July 2022. Prices may vary depending on product and service provider.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

GBP 1,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

GBP 1,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

GBP 800

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

GBP 650


Milk (1 litre)


Dozen eggs

GBP 1.97

Loaf of white bread 

GBP 0.95

Rice (1kg)

GBP 1.50

Packet of cigarettes (Marlboro)

GBP 12.50


City-centre bus/train fare

 GBP 2

Taxi rate per km

 GBP 1.12

Petrol/gasoline per litre

 GBP 1.53

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 GBP 6

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

 GBP 1.60


 GBP 2.85

Local beer (500ml)

GBP 3.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

GBP 60


Internet (uncapped ADSL per month)

GBP 26

Mobile call rate (mobile-to-mobile per minute)

GBP 0.07

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

GBP 190

Accommodation in Cardiff

New arrivals in Cardiff will have accommodation near the top of their list of priorities. Fortunately, the Welsh capital offers a medley of housing options in a variety of areas and suburbs, and house hunters will undoubtedly be able to find something to suit their lifestyle and budget.

Most of Cardiff is well served by excellent transport links, so whether new arrivals choose an apartment in the bustling city centre or a larger freestanding house in one of the leafy village-like suburbs, commuting to work shouldn't be much of an issue. 

Types of accommodation in Cardiff

Cardiff is quite small, but its various neighbourhoods are decidedly non-generic, and new arrivals will have their pick of an eclectic range, from quirky inner-city pockets and glitzy blocks of high-rises to quiet family-friendly suburbs on the outskirts. Accommodation ranges from big modern apartments and studios to affordable rowhouses and large Edwardian family homes – it just depends on the house hunter's style, budget and needs. 

New arrivals will also be happy to learn that rent on flats, whether they're in Cardiff's city centre, Cardiff Bay or any of the city's upmarket neighbourhoods, are much cheaper than in the likes of London – often less than half the price.

Some of the city's architecture is stunningly preserved, and there are plenty of renovated apartment blocks that come with all the required luxuries and modern amenities that residents could hope for.

Finding accommodation in Cardiff

For those newcomers who haven't arranged accommodation prior to their arrival, we recommend renting short-term accommodation as a base while they house hunt for a longer term solution. 

A good place to start is reputable property sites, or property pages on social networks. News sites will also often have property sections to browse. Alternatively, a good letting agency can be very helpful, as agents can advise regarding districts that would be most suitable to an individual's needs, and they can provide a more in-depth look at the renting options in Cardiff. House hunters should note that letting agencies will only show properties they have listed in their portfolio, so it's always a good idea to visit several. 

Renting accommodation in Cardiff


When the search is finally over and a house hunter has found something to their liking, they will need to submit an application as soon as possible, as they are likely to face some competition from other prospective renters, particularly in popular areas. Applicants are typically required to hand over references and information about their credit history. Those without renting and credit histories in Wales or the UK may still be approved, but perhaps at a slightly inflated price.


In most cases, tenants will need to pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent, but if expats lack a local credit history or references they may be asked to provide up to six months' rent upfront. This is most commonly the case with letting agencies but not always private landlords, so renters without the funds for this kind of expense may do well to opt for private leasing.  


Flats available for rent are let by agencies or directly by private landlords. The typical long-term lease is for six months or a year. Rental rates vary according to the size of the property, the location and the level of furnishing.


Utilities and council tax aren't typically included in the cost of rent and are an extra expense for the tenant. Renters should keep this in mind when budgeting for housing expenses.


Newcomers will be able to find furnished, unfurnished or partially furnished flats in Cardiff, depending on their needs. It's important to note that 'furnished' properties vary significantly, so be sure to confirm what furniture, lighting, curtains and appliances are included in the property beforehand.

Areas and suburbs in Cardiff

The best places to live in Cardiff

The Welsh capital, Cardiff, is a cosmopolitan city whose skyline ranges from modern skyscrapers and famous stadia to whimsical castles. When it comes to the city’s various areas and suburbs, newcomers will be spoilt for choice, as each comes with a unique set of characteristics, amenities and atmosphere. Cardiff also offers significant variety in terms of cost and lifestyle offerings, so new arrivals are sure to find something suitable.

Proximity to Cardiff's city centre shouldn’t be of much concern to house hunters, as the Welsh capital is compact, pedestrianised and boasts excellent public transport infrastructure, making for quick and easy commutes.

Young professionals and students tend to favour the trendy central areas of Cardiff, while families usually prefer the spacious and tree-lined outlying suburbs. An added advantage of moving to Cardiff is the relatively low rental and property prices, especially when compared to other UK capitals. 

We've listed some of Cardiff’s most popular areas and suburbs below.

Central areas of Cardiff

Photo by Taylor Floyd Mews


Just northeast of the city centre lies Roath, a picturesque and vibrant multicultural community. Creatives, young professionals and students will treasure the sustainable shops and chic restaurants and pubs. With excellent transport links, residents can get to the city centre in 15 minutes by car or bus. 


Pontcanna is a lush neighbourhood with highly sought-after amenities. Residents enjoy the swathes of parkland, world-class sporting facilities and entertainment hubs such as the Chapter Art Centre and the Kings Road Courtyard. Families often choose Pontcanna for its spacious homes and proximity to the city centre. Shopaholics love the easy access to Cantons high street, while rugby fans are excited by the prospect of running into their favourite player at the local hotspots in Pontcanna.

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay, fondly known as The Bay, is a foodie’s dream. The area is home to more than 25 restaurants, bars and cafes. Cardiff Bay is truly an area for people from all walks of life. Luxury residences dot the waterfront, while affordable flats can be found a bit further out. The neighbourhood also hosts many of Cardiffs top attractions, including the Wales Millennium Centre, The Senedd and Techniquest.

Family-friendly areas of Cardiff

Photo by Xiaoxia Xu Arpile


Perched in the northernmost part of Cardiff, Lisvane is one of the city's most affluent suburbs. The village is well known for its excellent schools, green spaces and magnificent properties. New arrivals can find anything from cottages to mansions here. While Lisvane is secluded, newcomers commuting to the city centre can still expect relatively short bus and train rides.


With nearby Roath Park Lake, several good schools and child-friendly restaurants, Penylan is a haven for families. The strong sense of community contributes to its character, while the Edwardian architecture drives its charm. Travelling to the city centre takes just six minutes by car, while the bus and train are efficient commuting options, too. 


Medieval architecture aficionados and Roald Dahl fans will love the famous novelist’s quiet village-like hometown of Llandaff. Families appreciate Llandaff's community for its solidarity, while the area's selection of Welsh- and English-language schools is equally attractive. The suburb is also chock-full of quaint boutique shops and cafes and has access to the Llandaff Meadows.

Education and schools in Cardiff

Education in Wales is compulsory from the ages of four to 16. Many students continue their education after age 16, pursuing an academic or vocational certification, usually the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Cardiff is home to around 125 schools, about seven of which are independent (private) schools. All schools are regularly assessed by a national organisation known as Estyn. Inspection results can be viewed online.

Government schools in Cardiff

Parents moving to Cardiff will have a good range of government schools to choose from. Many of Cardiff's best schools are government schools. The good news is that these can be attended free of charge.

Wales is currently in the process of rolling out a revamped curriculum, beginning with all nursery and elementary students. The rollout is planned to continue year by year until 2026, by which point all students will be under the new curriculum.

Welsh is taught as part of the curriculum. There are both English-language and Welsh-language schools in Cardiff.

Cardiff bases admission priority on a catchment system, so it's wise for those with school-age children to keep this in mind when selecting an area or suburb to live in. While living in a catchment area doesn't guarantee entry to a particular school, those living locally are prioritised over children who live further away.

The structure and location of catchment areas aren't always straightforward so it's best to check Cardiff's official website to find out about catchment area boundaries.

Independent schools in Cardiff

Private schools, also known as independent schools, generally offer the same curriculum as government schools, though some use alternative teaching styles and philosophies.

Not all independent schools teach the national curriculum, though. Students at the Cardiff Steiner School, for instance, graduate not with the Welsh Baccalaureate but with the Certificate of Steiner Education.

Unlike government schools, independent schools in Cardiff charge tuition fees, which can be quite pricey.

International schools in Cardiff

Though there are no schools in Cardiff teaching the curriculum of a foreign country, there are a handful that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB).

This includes Westbourne School, located in Cardiff, and UWC Atlantic College, situated in the Vale of Glenmorgan, about 30 minutes west of Cardiff. UWC Atlantic College not only offers the IB but was instrumental in its development in the 1960s.

Special-needs education in Cardiff

In Wales, special-needs education is called Additional Learning Needs (ALN). All schools in Cardiff are allocated funding for the purposes of supporting ALN students with resources such as educational psychologists and specialist teachers.

Children who require more support may undergo a Statutory Assessment conducted by the Cardiff council. The final report will include recommendations to improve the student's experience, either in their current school or in another educational environment more suited to their needs.

Tutors in Cardiff

Tutors can be immensely useful for newly arrived families in Cardiff, especially when it comes to getting help to catch up with a new school's curriculum or spending some extra time learning Welsh. Parents also often hire tutors in the run-up to big exams, or to tackle a problem subject.

The best way to find a tutor is often to ask around locally, speaking to fellow parents or school teachers for recommendations. There are also plenty of online tutoring companies, which offer a wide selection of tutors, including those with specialised knowledge or experience.

Lifestyle in Cardiff

With an abundance of green spaces, buzzing nightlife, and world-famous rugby and football stadia, Cardiff offers an exciting lifestyle. Newly arrived parents will also find that the lifestyle in Cardiff is equally enjoyable for the little ones, as there are plenty of fun spots to explore. 

Residents of the Welsh capital work to live rather than live to work, and this translates to a favourable work-life balance and a relaxed lifestyle.

Shopping in Cardiff

New arrivals who enjoy a regular dose of retail therapy are in for a treat. Whether shoppers are on a shoestring budget or looking for designer clothing, Cardiff has them covered.

The Cardiff arcades are excellent for affordable counter-culture shopping and much besides. Famous for its vintage clothing sales, Tramshed is a unique and savvy shopping experience, allowing patrons to pay a negligible entrance fee and grab all the goodies of their choice for a bargain per-kilo rate.

For high street and couture shopping, new arrivals should hit St. David’s Centre, Queen Street and Capitol Centre. These shopping districts are some of the biggest in Cardiff.

Eating out in Cardiff

Cardiff’s culinary scene is diverse and caters to every palate and budget under the sun. Fondly known as ‘the international food mile’, City Road in Roath is a foodie’s dream covering cuisines ranging from Mediterranean and Egyptian to Asian and Japanese.

The Spanish Triangle in Westgate Street is worth a visit for an authentic Catalan experience of tapas and afternoon bar hopping. 

Voted the most fashionable place to live in Cardiff, Pontcanna is the centre of independent artisanal bakeries and plant-based eateries. Eco-conscious gourmands will love Cardiff Central Market for its affordable and sustainable local produce, wood-fired pizzas and micro cafes.

Nightlife in Cardiff

Nightlife in Cardiff is lively with regular stag dos and hen parties and an equally exciting array of nightclubs, bars and pubs located on St. Mary Street, Cardiff Bay and The Brewery Quarter. 

Cardiff has a large student population, influencing its nightlife and making it one of the city's best features. That said, new arrivals who want to avoid the raucousness of the city centre can check out the alternative and elegant venues in Womanby Street, Grangetown and Penarth, among others.

Outdoor activities in Cardiff

Nature lovers and adventurists will be spoilt for choice in Cardiff as a result of its many public parks, botanical gardens, rivers and lakes. Thanks to River Taff and Cardiff Bay, there are plenty of water activities such as rafting, sailing and paddle boarding for newcomers to enjoy.

Those landlubbers who prefer hiking, cycling or picnicking should visit the Taff Trails, Bute Park and Roath Park Lake when the weather allows.

See and do in Cardiff

Cardiff's rich history and culture mean there is plenty to see and do in the city. Below is our list of favourites.

Cardiff Castle

Located in Cardiff’s city centre, Cardiff Castle is a must-see for history and architecture lovers alike. This millenia-old castle was once a Roman fort and is now a viewing point with awe-inspiring panoramic views of Cardiff and endless activities newcomers and their families to indulge in.

National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans National Museum of History

These museums house some of the finest art collections in Europe and exhibit the evolution of Wales with a dinosaur and woolly mammoth gallery, which the kids are sure to love. The best part? Both museums are free.

Principality Stadium

Formerly known as The Millennium Stadium, Principality Stadium is the national stadium of Wales. Sports fanatics will love touring the iconic 74,000-seater stadium. Principality Stadium also regularly hosts international music concerts, graced by superstars such as Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé.

Wales Millennium Centre

Spanning four acres of Cardiff Bay, Wales Millennium Centre is a cultural hub like no other. Music lovers who visit the centre are in for an unforgettable experience of opera, ballet, musicals and world-renowned theatre productions.


New arrivals looking for a fun and educational afternoon out for the family should look no further than Techniquest. The educational centre has interactive science and astronomy tours enjoyed from the comfort of the science theatre.

What's on in Cardiff

Cardiff’s annual event calendar is jam-packed with festivals, sporting events and fairs for new arrivals from all walks to enjoy. Check out our favourite events in the Welsh capital below.

Six Nations Rugby (February/March)

Rugby is the biggest pastime in Wales and the Six Nations Rugby championship is at the heart of it. Every year, six of the top European rugby nations compete to restore or maintain their nation’s pride as Europe's best rugby team.

Tawyl Fair (June)

The Tawyl Fair celebrates the Welsh language, culture and food. The festival is held in Cardiff’s city centre and should definitely not be missed.

Pride Cymru (August)

Cardiff’s award-winning Pride Cymru is an annual festival where various communities come together to celebrate equality and diversity and support the LGBTQ+ community. The three-day weekend festivities, which include the main parade, draw in more than 50,000 participants each year.

Winter Wonderland (November/December)

Winter Wonderland kicks off Cardiff’s Christmas festivities in November with traditional food markets, fun fairs, and an ice rink creating magical Christmas spirit for the whole family to experience.

Getting around in Cardiff

Getting around in Cardiff is relatively easy thanks to an efficient public transport network and the pedestrian-friendly nature of the city centre. New arrivals who would prefer living in Cardiff’s quieter outlying areas rather than the bustling centre can rest assured that commuting into the city is quick and efficient.

Owning a car in Cardiff isn’t strictly necessary, but parents and those who intend to explore the Welsh countryside may find it useful to have their own set of wheels.

Public transport in Cardiff


Buses are the most common way to get around Cardiff. The bus service, operated by Cardiff Bus, is extensive and covers 72 routes across Newport, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Buses in Cardiff are fairly punctual, with some services running 24 hours a day. 
Bus fares are affordable and can be paid contactless, with cash, mobile tickets or group travel cards. The iff card, a reloadable fare card, is the most cost-effective for regular adult commuters, while the My Travel Pass Card is designed specifically for travellers between the ages of 16 and 21.  

Newcomers to Cardiff can email a printed application form to the Cardiff Bus customer service team and receive their iff and My Travel Pass cards through the post.


With more than 20 stations across Cardiff and the surrounding areas, trains are a fast and scenic way to travel around Cardiff. The Valley Lines, operated by Transport for Wales, has two main railway hubs: Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations.
Cardiff Central is great for travelling in and around the city centre, while Cardiff Queen Street station connects Cardiff’s valleys and suburbs to the central areas. The only downside to the railway line is the lack of 24-hour services.


Another scenic means of travel are Cardiff’s water taxis. One such water transport company is the Aquabus, which operates an hourly service between Cardiff Bay and the city centre.

Taxis in Cardiff

Finding a taxi in Cardiff is fairly painless. Taxis can be ordered online or by phone and can also be found in marshalled taxi ranks. New arrivals can hail black licensed cabs (hackney carriages) in designated areas across the city. We recommend newcomers confirm the fare with the driver before embarking on a trip, as payment is in cash. Ride-hailing apps such as Uber are also available.

Walking in Cardiff

Cardiff is relatively small, flat and crisscrossed with pedestrian pathways, which makes exploring the capital’s network of picturesque lanes and back alleys an absolute treat. The city also boasts plenty of green spaces in which to take a leisurely stroll or a jog.

Driving in Cardiff

Newcomers in Cardiff might want to think carefully about whether they require a car. Parking in the city is limited and comes at a hefty price, while fuel costs keep rising. The city’s traffic congestion can be terrible, particularly during rush hour and major sporting events. Nevertheless, a vehicle can be convenient for new arrivals with kids and those looking to travel outside Cardiff. 
There are three Park and Ride sites around the city, allowing motorists to safely park their cars and continue their commute on public transport. There is also affordable parking outside the city centre for newcomers who don’t mind a short walk. 
Driving in Cardiff is straightforward, and the roads are easy to navigate, apart from the potentially confusing junctions in the city centre.

Cycling in Cardiff

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Cardiff as the city develops more cycling lanes and facilities. OVO Bikes, operated by NextBikes UK, runs a comprehensive pedal and e-bike sharing programme allowing cyclists to use an app to rent a bicycle daily, monthly or on an annual subscription. The bikes can be picked up and dropped off at the many docking stations throughout Cardiff.