Manchester

Manchester

As the fastest-growing UK economy outside London, this north-western city has it all - a thriving restaurant industry, lively student presence and well-connected transport links. So what’s it really like to live in Manchester?

“Lifestyle is a huge draw for the many young residents, with a varied, eclectic dining scene and retail opportunities to rival London”

Moving to Manchester

With a population of just under 2.5 million and an annual GDP of £28 billion, the City of Manchester is the fastest-growing UK economy outside London and was voted the best place to live in 2015 for the second year running. Business is booming and with a yearly increase in residents there seems to be no stopping this favourable north-westerly wind.

Once the centre of the Industrial Revolution and a major centre for cotton production, Manchester is now known as a city of sporting heroes, vibrant nightlife, legendary musicians and the home of MediaCity UK, among other things. While over 70% of the city is made up of residents who are of a working age, there’s also a huge student culture with around 100,000 students based at one of the four main universities in Manchester. Lifestyle is a huge draw for the many young residents, with a varied, eclectic dining scene and retail opportunities to rival London.

House Prices in Manchester

While properties vary hugely across the city, the average house price here is an affordable £180,000, significantly lower then the UK average. Sought-after areas for families include Didsbury, where you’ll find detached properties, leafty streets and independent shops, while students tend to congregate in Fallowfield and Withington. For young couples, the city centre, Northern Quarter and Ancoats are popular choices for their cool, warehouse-style apartments and walking distance to bars and clubs. 

Transport

Manchester is very well connected via public transport, with a vast array of bus routes operating throughout the day and night, as well as the Metrolink tram system.

For travel beyond the city, Manchester is served by three major rail stations – Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Victoria – with a journey to London taking just over 2 hours. For international travel, Manchester Airport provides flights to destinations all over the world, whilst closer to home drivers are well provided for with the A57 motorway, which forms a part of the Manchester-Salford Inner Ring Road, as well as the M60, known as the Manchester Outer Ring Road. Both rings are connected via a series of A-roads which make travelling in and out of the city a reasonably efficient experience. For those travelling in from outer areas, the city also has a number of Park and Ride schemes.

Lifestyle

For those seeking variety and a buzzing social life, Manchester offers locals one of the most exciting and diverse lifestyles in the UK. Home to a vibrant food and drink scene, you’ll be spoiled for choice here with everything from high-street chains to high-end dining available throughout the city. There’s the noodle bars of Chinatown, the BYOB Indian restaurants of the Curry Mile (popular with students from nearby Fallowfield) and even opulent dining at The French in the Midland Hotel and the quirky Australasia restaurant in Spinningfields. For some of the cities trendiest restaurants, the Northern Quarter is packed with cocktail bars and cool concept restaurants, whilst Piccadilly Gardens offers all the high-street favourites you could want.

Although the ‘Madchester’ years may be gone and infamous venues such as the Hacienda transformed into offices and apartments, the nightlife in Manchester is still one of the city’s major selling points for young locals and visitors. The options are vast, with sky-high cocktail bars such as Cloud 23, chic after-work spots in Spinningfields, footballer-friendly clubs on Deansgate and gritty, late-night parties at the infamous Warehouse Project. Manchester also offers an open and lively gay scene, largely centred around the clubs and bars of Canal Street in the city centre.

Meanwhile, the retail opportunities in Manchester are just as impressive as the restaurant scene, with a selection of distinct areas offering vintage clothing, luxury designers, major brands and more. For vintage fans, Afflecks in the Northern Quarter is the preferred bazaar, with over 70 independent indoor shops selling a mixture of everything from vintage bow ties to 1950s lamps to ensure that your attire (and home décor) is the definition of unique. This creative theme continues throughout the rest of the Northern Quarter, with more independent boutiques lining narrow streets and threaded in between coffee shops.

Close by, the Arndale Centre is the fashion-forward home of major high street brands, such as New Look and Topshop, with over 200 shops, whilst for luxury brands New Cathedral Street is packed with exclusive designers, including a 3-storey Harvey Nichols.

Groceries

There are branches of all major supermarkets throughout Manchester, including a large Sainsburys in Fallowfield, an Asda superstore in Hulme and a large Aldi in the Arndale Centre. For interntaional cooking, the city is well-stocked with a range of options such as the Indian supermarkets and Halal butchers of the Curry Mile, and the large Wing Yip Asian supermarket in Ancoats.

Health & Sport

For those looking to get fit, Manchester offers some of the best resources and facilities outside of London, having been named the sporting capital of the UK in 2015 – and as the home of both Manchester City and Manchester United football clubs, there’s certainly plentyy of inspiration. Alongside branches of major gym chains, the city acquired an array of excellent public facilities following the Commonwealth Games in 2002, including The Regional Athletics Centre, the Manchester Velodrome and the Manchester Aquatics Centre .

Other facilities include the City of Manchester Stadium, National Squash Centre and the Manchester BMX Centre, all of which give Mancunians a helping hand in keeping fit.

Culture

Away from the flashy retail spaces, the city of Manchester is full of cultural venues, activities and beautiful architecture which draw millions of tourists to the area every year. Key highlights include the Manchester Museum, the Manchester Art Gallery, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Whitworth Art Gallery, which was named the Museum of the Year in 2015. Football fans will enjoy the National Football Musuem, while for cinephiles there are a number of cinemas in the city, ranging from the Odeon IMAX to the quirky Cornerhouse.

Still hungry for more? Try the independent galleries and music venues of the Northern Quarter, the Manchester International Festival, music concerts at Manchester Academy, or live comedy at Matt and Phred’s – the options are endless.

“Manchester is full of cultural venues, activities and beautiful architecture which draw millions of tourists to the area every year”

Schools and Education

Manchester offers a good selection of primary, secondary and independent schools throughout the city, as well as some sought-after further education establishments. CofE School of the Resurrection, King David Primary School and Acacias Community Primary School are among the best primary schools in Manchester, while for older children The King David High School and The Barlow RC High School offer some of the best GCSE results for state secondary schools in the city. Leading independent schools in the area include Withington Girls School, Manchester High School for Girls and Manchester Grammar School.

The city is home to four universities, including the renowned University of Manchester, which is part of the Russell Group and was ranked 8th in the UK by the Times Higher Education supplement in 2016. Manchester Metropolitan University, UMIST and the Northern College of Music are also located here, leading to an estimated 100,000 students in the city.

Safety

Statistically, crime levels in Manchester are high, second only to London when compared with other major cities in the UK. Piccadilly Gardens, Chinatown and the Northern Quarter see some of the highest recorded numbers of crimes, whilst West Gorton and Didsbury are some of the safest areas of the city.

Green Space

Over 20% of Manchester is made up of green space, so wherever you choose to live you’re never too far from a good park. Heaton Park is the biggest park in Greater Manchester, stretching over 600 acres filled with greenery, a boating lake, an orangery and even an Animal Centre, while Wythenshawe Park in the south of the city is another popular spot which has recieved numbers Green Flag Awards over the years.

Meanwhile for something even more vast and rugged, the Peak District National Park is under an hour’s drive away from the city if you’re seeking an adventurous afternoon.

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