Best Cities in the UK: Manchester

Posted by on Sep 10, 2019 in The Moving | Comments Off on Best Cities in the UK: Manchester

Best Cities in the UK: Manchester

Best Cities in the UK: Manchester

Best Places to Live in the UK > 20 Best Cities > Manchester

Welcome to Manchester, a city built on rock n roll, parka jackets and a venomous football rivalry that splits the city in two. Manchester is a city that rocks to its own rhythm, swaggering about the place with that recognisable stride, waving two fingers in the air to anybody that doesn’t want to listen. 

Manchester is a proud city, a city steeped in tradition, and it wants you to know about it. Manchester may come across as brash, but ask anyone who has visited the city or lives there, and they will tell you all about Manchester’s charm and charisma.

Thinking of moving to Manchester?

Often regarded as the UK’s ‘second city’ (although, Birmingham residents may have something to say about that), the city of Manchester has a population of 534,475 people. The number of people moving to Manchester continues to grow year-on-year, with people choosing to move to the city for the bustling lifestyle that comes in at a fraction of the price of living in London.

In fact, between 2017-18, 10,200 people left London to move to Greater Manchester, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. While we often hear about the attraction of London, only 8,870 people moved from Greater Manchester to London during this period, meaning London suffered a net loss of 1,330 people to its Northern rival. 

What does Manchester have to offer?

Manchester is a city that caters for everyone. Whether you’re a rock n roller, a house and techno head, a lover of fine art and theatre, or you love a good old smokey pub, Manchester is the city for you. 


Mancunians are spoilt for choice when it comes to nightlife, with the city having one of the infamous party scenes in the UK. While London’s nightlife continues to splutter and be shut down, Manchester’s establishments are thriving, with new businesses opening to cater to the city’s new population of trendy young things that have money to spend.

Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the city’s standout hub of nightlife, but there are still plenty of bars scattered about across the city that have yet to be discovered by the ‘mainstream’ and continue to operate under the radar. Such is the blossoming nature of Manchester’s social scene, there are now more than 500 licensed premises in the city centre alone.

While it’s easy to see Manchester as nothing more than a party city that is only thriving due to its influence on the UK’s music scene, the city has so much more to offer its residents than just an incredible nightlife and unrivalled music venues. 


Manchester, like London and Birmingham, is a multicultural city. Research conducted by the University of Manchester revealed that the city is one of the country’s most diverse, with 37% of schoolchildren speaking another language in addition to English. It also is estimated that more than half of Manchester’s adult population is multilingual, with the 2011 Census revealing that 17% of adults in Manchester speak something other than English as their ‘main’ language.

Manchester’s diversity is evident when you walk through its streets, with the city openly celebrating the different cultures that exist and thrive harmoniously together. The city’s private sector also actively seeks out international talent to benefit the range of professional industries that continues to grow.

Employment Opportunities in Manchester

While it used to be that professionals would flock to the south for better career opportunities, things have started to change. The past decade has seen Manchester become a key player in the UK job market, with the city being home to large tech, media and financial firms, as well as a hotbed for startups. 

The region of Greater Manchester has a rapidly expanding economy, with it being the second-fastest in the UK behind London. The region generates £62.8 billion GVA (gross value added) each year, and the city’s workforce continues to grow at a steady rate.

Growing Industries

When you look at the opportunities afforded to those who move to Manchester, it’s easy to see why so many people are heading north and setting up in the city. The creative and knowledge industries are thriving in Manchester, while the manufacturing sector continues to play a big part in the local economy.

Manchester has a rich manufacturing history, particularly in textiles, but the city’s landscape is changing. Recent years have seen a rise in the IT, biotechnology and research sectors, with the creative industry also taking a grip of the city.

The diversifying of Manchester’s economy has led to international corporations moving to the city and there has been a huge development in the media sector. Manchester is now home to some of the UK’s most renowned media brands, including the BBC and ITV, and the city is also home to a growing startup scene.

According to the latest figures released by RSM, there were 1,079 software development and programming businesses created in the North West in 2018. This figure is a 48% increase in the 729 companies that were set up in the previous year and is the highest growth of any UK region. While London continues to lead the way in the startup industry, the North West, and Manchester, in particular, is now hot on its heels.

It’s not just the creative and digital industries that are blossoming in the city, the financial sector has also experienced rapid growth. Finance is now one of the largest employment sectors in the city, with one in 10 Mancunians working in the sector. 

There is also a growing science sector, which has risen alongside the introduction of the Manchester Science Park. The business park is home to over 120 science-based businesses and is constantly attracting new businesses and talent.

Property in Manchester

So, we know that Manchester’s employment sector is growing, but is there enough housing to go around and how much does it cost? 

Unsurprisingly, Manchester is a lot cheaper than London when it comes to housing. While this isn’t hard, given that London is eye-wateringly expensive, the cost of living in Manchester forms a large part of the city’s appeal.


For those looking to buy, the average price of a property in Manchester stood at £189,095 in August 2019. This is significantly lower than the average price of a property in the UK, which the Office of National Statistics records at £226,798.

The price of a property in Manchester has fallen by 1% in the last three months, and 1.92% in the past 12 months. This is likely down to the increasing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, but it also represents a good time to buy in the city. House prices had been rising at a considerable rate before the referendum. 

For those looking to buy in the city, flats in Manchester sold for an average of £173,758, while terraced houses in the suburbs were sold for an average £144,493. These figures are according to the current Zoopla estimates. When you compare these prices to London, where the average property will cost you £478,853, it’s easy to see why people are moving to Manchester to buy property


Renting in Manchester is also a lot cheaper than in London. For renters living in London, the idea of ever living within the city centre is a distant pipedream. However, for Mancunians, living in the centre of town is a viable option. 

A one-bedroom apartment in Manchester City Centre will set you back £782 on average, while an apartment outside of the centre will cost £572. In comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in the centre of London will leave you £1,711 out of pocket, with an apartment outside of the centre costing you £1218 on average. These figures are from the price comparison website, Numbeo.

Salaries in Manchester

While London salaries are higher than those in Manchester, the cost of living means that the average Londoner will end up with less ‘living’ money than their Northern counterparts. 

The average monthly net salary in Manchester is £1,769 after-tax, compared to £2,321 in London. Despite the fact that Mancunians earn around £600 less than Londoners, the cost of rent and transportation in the capital leaves its residents short-changed.

What is there to see outside of Manchester?

Manchester may be an expansive and cosmopolitan city, but the area surrounding it is some of the most beautiful in the country. 

The city is a fantastic base from which to explore the rest of the country and also has an airport providing international and domestic flights on a regular basis.  

The Peak District

Just an hours drive south-east from the city is the Peak District, Britains first national park that offers a vast centre of moorlands, forests, dales and streams. The area is also home to some of the most picturesque villages in the UK.

The peak district is perfect for both outside adventurers and relaxed ramblers. The area has a number of stately homes, including Chatsworth House, while also containing extreme landscapes and challenging hikes. 

The Lake District

Heading to the north-west of the city, you will find the Lake District and its stunning landscapes. Unsurprisingly, the region is known for its famous lakes, but it also features awe-inspiring mountains and hills. 

The Lake District is the second-largest national park in the UK and is home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. The mountain treks and hikes expose you to some of the most stunning scenery that the UK has to offer and you can also enjoy boat rides on the lakes as a unique way to take in the mesmerising surroundings. 

If hiking isn’t your thing, the Lake District has plenty of quaint pubs and villages to whittle away an afternoon in, and the area is known for its fine cuisine, particularly the legendary Cumberland sausage. 

The Lake District has been the inspiration for many celebrated writers, and you can visit the houses where Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth created their famous works. 

Its mixture of pretty villages, extreme landscapes and tranquil lakes attracts millions of visitors each year, and the region is only one and a half hours from Manchester, making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

North Wales

It may be a different country, but the dramatic coastline of North Wales is only a couple of hours drive from Manchester, and is well worth a visit. 

Famed for its spectacular landscapes, North Wales has plenty to offer water sports fans and adventure lovers. The area is home to Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, and also contains some of the most stunning mountain ranges in the UK. 

For many people, Manchester is nothing more than the birthplace of bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. While these bands have formed a large part of its identity, people are too quick to associate the attitude and culture that came with their ‘Madchester’ movement to the city. 

There’s no doubt that the swagger, arrogance and bravado that came with the movement still exists within certain parts of Manchester, but the city of today is so much more than that.

Being a multicultural city with affordable housing and a growing job market, Manchester is now an attractive proposition for people looking to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big city without the price tag. There are not many cities that can take people off of London, but Manchester is doing just that, and that’s why it is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in the UK. 

Interested in other UK cities? Why not check out our 20 Best Cities to Live in the UK for more information!

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Published at Mon, 09 Sep 2019 09:00:24 +0000