I'm planning on staying in the Netherlands for a month next fall, and have narrowed my interests down to renting an apartment in Utrecht or Leiden. I'll be working remotely as opposed to staying there solely for sightseeing so I'd like a base that is less-touristy. However, I would like to make occasion day trips knowing that it's well equipped on the transportation routes, I am leaning towards Utrecht. Can anyone chime in on this with some reasons why I shouldn't overlook Leiden quite yet?
If you intend on travelling around, both cities have busy train stations, though you can reach more places directly from Utrecht. However, as you will notice, most train lines operates almost like extended overground subways, with 30-min or 15-min intervals (daytime) being the norm.
I'd pick the city where I could find an apartment closer to the train station, eliminating or reducing the need for bus or tram rides on top of train trips. That would be my first criteria.
Leiden is very central for excursions to Amsterdam, den Haag, Rotterdam, Delft and has a large well established university. It is closer to the beach at both den Haag (Scheveningen) and Haarlem (Zandvoort) - and Haarlem is just down the way from Leiden.
If you are looking to consider one of these two for your permanent stay you would do well to consider the siting of the two cities. For example, Leiden is the nearest city to Keukenhof and the bulb fields in the Spring.
Leiden has a pretty cool botanical garden with historic roots (see what I did there???) and more of a town feel. It is right near the Old Rhine and there is lots and lots of boating very nearby.
At 23 or 24 it be a very good fit, and job prospects in the Randstad would be good.
Utrecht has a very 1960s feel to it immediately past the station but that soon passes and the city, much larger feeling than Leiden, is very pleasant to walk around. Easy run into Amsterdam and you can get to Rotterdam, and easy access to the east of the country and north of the country.
I think that Andre's hit it on the head - wherever's the most cost-efficient and closest to transportation will probably win out, but I'm definitely going to say that Utrecht is the way I'm hoping to go with this. Thank you all!