A lot of people who don't live in the United Kingdom tend to think that London is the only city in the country—indeed, any Brit who has traveled abroad has often had the experience of telling people they're British only to have it be assumed that they are from London. It's also very common for England and the United Kingdom to be treated as though they're interchangeable, erasing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the mix. This is a shame, as it erases an awful of lovely places that are well worth a visit—and which might even be terrific places to live!
It is true that London is the biggest city in the U.K. by some orders of magnitude, and thus the biggest city in England (the latter being the largest of the U.K.'s component nations). However, there is plenty of culture and opportunity to be found in smaller cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and others. There are also a number of cities that grew out of very charming older market towns, and while they're on the small side as cities go, they can offer a more laid-back way of life with much lower housing costs, and they are still in or near an area brimming with employment opportunities. Ultimately, England's not a very big place, and nowhere is very far from anywhere, meaning that whatever primary qualities you're looking for in a city, not only can you probably find it, but it's quite likely that you can find several other cities nearby that provide you with everything you need. Let's see if we can identify the U.K. city that's right for you!