Settled by the ancient Romans, Derby finally achieved city status in 1977. It’s a thriving industrial centre with a rich history and a great location. Many famous individuals hail from Derby or close by, including Jane Austen, and several notable companies either originated in Derby or were developed there. Derby offers a desirable combination of picturesque surroundings and well-developed industry.
Is Derby a good place to live? Derby is an attractive place to settle. It has fairly high employment, good transport connections and plenty of amenities. House prices are competitive and rents are modest, while employment opportunities are varied and excellent.
Whether you’re moving to the UK for the first time and looking for just the right place to settle or maybe relocating from another part of the country, you probably have questions about Derby.
- What are the main employers?
- What are some good and not so good neighbourhoods?
- How much would it cost to buy a house?
Keep reading to find out more about these and other topics.
Is Derby a good place to live?
Derby offers many attractive possibilities as your new home base in the UK. If you’re looking at the East Midlands as the region where you might settle, Derby is an obvious choice. It has a little of everything.
Neighbourhoods seen as less desirable Chaddesden, Pear Tree, Pinxton and Normanton. There are no real “no-go” areas in Derby, however, and these neighbourhoods offer lower house prices and lively diversity. If you enjoy shopping at Asian markets or want to snag some bargains, for instance, Normanton is fine. Mixed income areas include Chad and Allestree. More affluent areas include Mickleover, Littleover, Duffield, Kingsway and Chellaston.
Like any city Derby has good and bad areas. As a city, Derby does have a greater number of crimes than smaller towns in the East Midland region. Overall, however, the crime rate is reasonable for a large urban area and compares well with the rest of the country.
Like most of the UK school system, Derby currently operates single-tier, non-selective schools. It does not have middle schools, only primary and high-school education. Most of the secondary schools in the area have a good rating and offer sixth-form education. For students who would prefer to leave school but who want to advance their education after they turn 16, Derby College is an option. This is a large college of further education offering sixth-form schooling as well as vocational training and apprenticeships.
For higher education, there are various options. The University of Derby has its main campus in the city. The University of Nottingham has a medical campus at Derby’s main hospital.
Transportation in Derby is good, although as in any city some areas are better served than other areas. Driving around some parts of Derby can be a little challenging but is certainly no worse than any other urban area. The local bus service runs between the town centre and various outlying neighbourhoods, and there are intercity bus services that take you from Derby to stops around the rest of the country. Derby lies on National Express coaches’ Yorkshire — South West and London — Manchester routes.
The central railway station offers services to London, the North East and the South West of England, including express services. There are two local stations offering a limited service.
Derby is also located very conveniently for the East Midlands Airport, lying just 15 miles away. This gives you easy access to various international flights, including flights with budget airlines such as Ryanair and Jet2.
Social life in Derby is very varied. The high student population means that there are plenty of inexpensive clubs and similar venues. As you’d expect there are plenty of traditional pubs, including the historic Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, the oldest pub in the city and a Grade II listed building. Theatre and the arts are well-represented and there is plenty of entertainment for all ages. Much of the city’s social life occurs in the city centre but there are plenty of venues and activities in outlying neighbourhoods too.
Is Derby a good place to work?
As a major industrial hub, Derby has a greater than usual range of good employment opportunities. Two of the principal employers in the area are Rolls-Royce Holdings and Toyota, which provide ample jobs in the engineering sector. These range from high-paying engineering and management positions to machine-minding tasks. Alstom, which produces boilers and heat exchangers for power plants, operates off of Derby. The city is also home to First Source, a major telephone support provider.
Another major employer is Bombardier Transportation, a company that manufactures rolling stock for railways. During the Industrial Revolution Derby became a major player in the railway industry; while this is obviously less relevant in the 21st century, railway manufacture remains important to the city’s economy.
Unemployment and underemployment in the city remain fairly low, with the diversity of jobs available meaning that Derby is relatively resilient against economic upheaval. Because of the preponderance of manufacturing jobs in the area the average wage is fairly low — around £25,000 — but this does not mean there aren’t plenty of excellent opportunities attracting high salaries. Severe unemployment is confined to older and unskilled demographics, and even that is improving as the UK’s economy recovers from the 2008 collapse.
Is Derby a good place to buy a house?
Derby is a good place to both buy and rent property. Many people choose to rent, at least initially, because rents are competitive. The wide variety of properties and varied prices make Derby a good place to get on the property ladder. It’s very easy for first-time buyers to pick up an inexpensive property initially and then move on to bigger and better things.
The presence of a large student population and a big rental market generally make Derby a good location for those interested in entering the buy-to-rent market. Lower property prices can be found in lower-income areas like Chaddesden and Normanton. Higher house prices mean that areas like Mickleover, Duffield and Chellaston are usually only affordable to more affluent buyers.
The average purchase price for a property in Derby ranges from £105,000 for a one-bedroom house, £207,000 for a three-bedroomed house and around £425,000 for a five-bedroomed house.
Rental costs vary depending on the location and size of the property but are generally fairly modest. You can easily find a single-bedroom home for £390 per calendar month, a three-bedroomed property for £580 pcm and a five-bedroomed property for £650 pcm. In fact, many of the larger rental properties are located in lower-rent areas so it’s not uncommon to find a five-bedroomed home for less than £600 per month.
Is Derby a good place to retire?
Derby is a good place to look for a retirement property for a number of reasons. Firstly, the cost of living is fairly low. Secondly, public services are generally good — there’s obviously a lot of variation between different neighbourhoods but overall Derby is well-served. Thirdly, there are plenty of different retirement properties to choose from.
Retirees might want to avoid settling in the more rumbustious areas of the city such as Normanton (although even in these areas there are quiet nooks and corners that repay investigation).
It’s quite possible to find a one-bed detached bungalow for around £100,000, with three-bedroomed retirement properties costing around £230,000.
Larger retirement properties are unusual in Derby, although of course, one could purchase a standard five-bedroomed house for around £425,000. Retirement flats are obviously much cheaper, with a single-bedroom flat in a retirement home costing under £70,000. Another popular option for retirees is to purchase a park home (static caravan) which goes for a similar amount to a flat.
Rents are very affordable for retirement properties. Average prices are similar to those for standard flats, although this depends on the location, the size of the property and the level of care required. £350 pcm is average for a one-bedroomed flat, while a three-bedroomed flat might rent for £550 pcm. Five-bedroomed retirement flats are very scarce in this area.
Is Derby a good place to visit?
Derby is a popular destination both for day-trips and short breaks for a weekend or more. There’s plenty to see and experience, thanks to the city’s fascinating industrial past and long history as an important settlement to the Romans and Saxons.
Accommodation ranges from popular budget hotel chains, which offer comfortable lodgings at a reasonable price, to more opulent places to stay. Derby has a number of four-star and boutique hotels that make for a memorable stay in the city.
Shoppers will enjoy the city centre, which has a healthy mixture of popular chains and small independent stores. There are various local markets dotted around the city which bargain-hunters should check out.
The city has plenty of museums and galleries, including Pickford’s House Museum and Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Many of the local attractions showcase the city’s industrial past, such as Derby Industrial Museum (housed in the old Derby Silk Mill) and the Royal Crown Derby museum and factory tour. Derby Cathedral and the cathedral quarter are a must-see for anyone interested in history or architecture. Derby Canal offers pleasant walks that take in numerous city landmarks, while the River Derwent is a by-word for scenic country strolls.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.