When you’re looking to move to a new place, it’s easy to overlook the downsides of living there. People will try to sell you on the benefits but it can’t all be perfect, can it?
Everywhere has its pros and cons. And although we don’t think you should be put off Sheffield, we’ve put together a list of its potential disadvantages to help you make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn some common complaints from Sheffield residents before we offer a counter to each point.
Cons of living in Sheffield
Sheffield was built on hillsides, so there’s no denying that it’s a very hilly city. Some parts are nestled within those hills, while others sit high on their peaks. The lowest point of the city is based just 27 metres above sea level but many others rise to over 500 metres above sea level. This is a massive disparity in terrain, and it’s very much noticeable as soon as you set foot on Sheffield soil. Because of this difference in altitude, the temperatures can differ greatly from area to area. As you can imagine, it can be very windy in parts.
The hilly nature of Sheffield may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’ll be without a car and instead opt to walk or cycle, the journeys around the city can be challenging. Less physically able individuals or those with small children may not be suited to certain parts of Sheffield because of this. They’d need to be careful when choosing an area to live in if they’d prefer to avoid going up and down hills every day.
On the positive, traversing Sheffield’s hills will keep you fit and you’ll often get to enjoy spectacular views in and out of the city. For many Sheffield residents, this is more than a consolation.
Plus, Sheffield is in a league of its own when it comes to green space. It’s not only the greenest city in the UK, it’s actually one of the greenest in the whole of Europe. It’s not common for a city to have a national park in its boundary, but Sheffield does just that.
There are a lot of students
Sheffield is one of the UK’s premier uni towns. So that means it attracts lots of students from all over the world. While university students are a huge asset to the city not least due to the money they bring in, they have a reputation for being disruptive. People commonly complain of students making noise at all hours of the night and being inhospitable neighbours.
The good news is that students live in somewhat of a bubble and mostly keep to themselves. In a city as big as Sheffield, it’s easy to avoid them. Steer clear of buying a property in popular student areas that are close to the two universities like Crookes or Walkley.
If you’re looking to sell a property in one of these areas, consider using a cash house buyer to sell your house in Sheffield faster than on the market.
The City Centre could be better
On the retail front, Sheffield’s city centre is often said to be some way behind its neighbours Leeds and Manchester despite being a bigger city. People often feel that there aren’t enough independent shops and top high-street brands. Many residents were particularly sad to see the John Lewis department store permanently close in 2021, with the retailer claiming it was an unsustainable location following pandemic lockdowns.
Locals also highlight the public transport system as a disadvantage of the city. Beyond the city centre, buses are said to be unreliable and inefficient. Compared with the highly-rated public transport networks of Nottingham, Liverpool and Newcastle, Sheffield apparently has some catching up to do.
Fortunately, Sheffield City Council has already got the ball rolling on bold regeneration plans. With phase one already completed, Heart of the City II is set to be unveiled in 2024. The £470m regenerations scheme will transform the city centre and create thousands of new jobs. Other regeneration projects are constantly winning approval, too. Plans are in motion for the regeneration of Castlegate and Attercliffe, two areas that suffered from economic decline. The former will become a focal point of the city centre while the latter will become home to the Centre for Child Health Technology, the latest addition to Sheffield’s impressive healthcare sector.
Kelham Island is an area that has experienced a huge change in recent years. The 900-year-old man-made island was once an industrial area just outside the city centre. Now it’s regarded as one of the 51 coolest neighbourhoods in the world by TimeOut and one of the best places to live in the UK in 2023 by The Sunday Times.
Despite the criticisms, many Sheffield residents are happy with the wide range of pubs, restaurants and entertainment available throughout the city. It’s obviously impossible to please everyone, but Sheffield’s city centre has plenty to offer. But if not, Manchester is barely an hour’s drive away if you fancy a day out in another big city.
Historically, Sheffield has been called a city with two halves. One half was full of leafy suburbs while the other was polluted by strips of factories.
The slow transition to a new economy following deindustrialisation caused mass unemployment, social issues and migration out of the city and seemed to only further divide the city.
A 2009 report by The University of Sheffield’s Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group entitled “A Tale of Two Cities: the Sheffield Project” found that inequality had increased in Sheffield since the late 1960s. After analysing data from the NHS, ONS, Sheffield City Council and other sources, they highlighted a massive disparity between affluent and disadvantaged areas in Sheffield in terms of life expectancy, education and income levels.
The issue made national news the previous year when then Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg told the Liberal Democracy conference “If you are a child born in the poorest ward of Sheffield, you will die 14 years before a child born five miles down the road in the wealthiest ward.”
All cities have a socio-economic dividing line to some extent, so Sheffield is not alone in this regard. But even in the 2020s, the city still faces some problems with deprivation and inequality.
That said, a lot has been done to tackle these problems in Sheffield, and every year it’s improving by leaps and bounds. Income levels in Sheffield are almost identical to the national average. The job market is in a good place due to the growing industries like advanced manufacturing. And, as we mentioned, plenty of regeneration is taking place throughout the city. Areas that were once deprived have become much better in recent times.
Depending on where you choose to live, you may not come into contact with this aspect of the city, but it’s worth knowing about nonetheless.