Don't know much about York living, but can give you some Leeds advice. Living-wise, definitely avoid Hyde Park (unless you love back-to-backs filled with students), and probably avoid Headingley for the same reasons. Chapel Allerton (north of Potternewton Lane) is the yuppie part of town, probably similar to Clapham/Balham in terms of the people who live there (and a lot different vibe than south of Potternewton Lane). Meanwood is a nice half-way house between Headingley and Chapel A - a lot cheaper to buy or rent there as well, and has some nice pubs/bars/shops (and a waitrose, if you're into that kind of thing), and a big park. If you're looking at buying a place, then expect to be offering £20k above asking price for a house in Chapel A, and probably around £10k above asking in Meanwood (the Victorian terraces are very sought-after in both these places, e.g. Pasture Grove or Greenwood Mount). I wouldn't live south of the river (unless it's one of the new build flats on the river bank)... Manning Stainton seem to be the largest estate agent around these parts, although can't comment on whether they're good or not.
Cycling-wise, there are some nice routes to York along back lanes (although I've never tried these at rush hour), or the train from the centre is cheap-ish and quick. 20mins ride north of Leeds (to Otley) gets you to the edge of the dales and loads of great cycling around there. Good cycling clubs as well, like Alba Rosa and Valley Striders.
Thanks! Ended up getting a place in York. But still thinking about a move to Leeds depending on how things go. So still helpful - cheers!
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