Moving to Manchester
Are you moving to Manchester? The UK’s second city nestles in the shadows of the Pennines and is a proud beacon of our industrial heritage. But Manchester couldn’t be more modern if it tried – and its evolving regeneration is attracting businesses not only from the rest of the UK but from all over the world. Not only does it boast the country’s largest university, the new Media City has become centre of excellence for the creative industry. The twin obsessions here are music and sport, making it a wonderfully vibrant and lively place to live and work. Combine these factors with a cost of living significantly lower than London, and its appeal is easy to understand.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Manchester report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting Manchester on the Map
With the Pennines to the north and east, and the Cheshire Plains to the south, Manchester lies in shallow basin with its centre on the east bank of the River Irwell. It’s 160 miles from London and lies 35 miles from both Liverpool and Sheffield. Interestingly, it was Manchester’s geography that led to its development into the world’s first industrial city. Water power, coal reserves and proximity to a port made it the perfect cradle for the Industrial Revolution. Since then, the original city has spread to become the conurbation of Greater Manchester, Britain’s third largest urban area.
Naturally, given its size and location, Manchester is a major transport hub.
- Manchester Liverpool Road was the world’s first proper railway station, serving the world’s first passenger railway between Manchester and Liverpool.
- Today, the city lies on the West Coast Main Line, as well as at the centre of an extensive local network.
- The two main termini are Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria.
- The city’s four main stations carry more than 40 million passengers a year between them.
- Two major rail construction projects will add to this capacity in the near future.
- Manchester was the first city in the UK to reintroduce trams, in 1992.
- The Metrolink tram system has six lines and 69 stations.
- 50 bus companies operate within the Greater Manchester area, providing 220 million passenger journeys per year.
- The South Manchester corridor is the busiest bus route in Europe.
- Manchester Airport is the third busiest in the UK, with services to Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
- The canals that formed the main transport arteries at the start of the Industrial Revolution are still maintained, though mainly for leisure use.
- Driving in the city centre is all about congestion and expensive parking.
- However, if you live in the suburbs a car is fairly essential.
- There’s a good network of cycling paths within the city.
Despite being the UK’s second city, prices for accommodation in Manchester are significantly lower than in London and the South East. KPMG has ranked it as Europe’s most affordable city, above Rotterdam and Amsterdam. However, with the economic recovery, average rentals prices have started to rise in the more popular areas.
The balance of property types is mainly apartments in the centre, with larger houses more prevalent in the suburbs. There has been significant regeneration in the city centre, including new developments such as The Printworks and The Triangle. Swathes of 1960s buildings have been demolished, while old industrial buildings have been converted into flats and offices. To rent property in the city usually requires a commitment of at least six months or even 12 months, and remember when budgeting that the rent won’t include your utility bills.
A central location which means easy access to the CBD, restaurants, shops and bars. Smart luxury apartments are in plentiful supply for those with generous budgets.
Practically the equivalent of London’s Docklands, the old docks have been redeveloped to provide ultra-modern accommodation and commercial space. Media City has been established as the hub of the UK TV industry and creative types can live near their work in luxury waterside apartments. There are also original Victorian back-to-back terraces in the area for those with more traditional taste.
Waterside living is also on offer in Castlefield, located on the Bridgewater Canal. There are new and not so new apartment blocks, as well as industrial conversions. Along with Roman ruins, there are plenty of bars and restaurants scattered through the area.
A few miles south of the centre, the trendy village of Didsbury offers a variety of accommodation from modern apartments to family houses. Lively bars and restaurants are attracting a younger crowd but good schools in the area means that families like it here too. Furthermore, the commute is quick and easy.
With its own town centre of shops and restaurants, Chorlton offers a wide variety of accommodation and an easy commute.
Good value family homes and easy access to the city centre lend Burnage its appeal. There are lots of semi-detached houses with gardens and the schools are good.
Five miles southeast of the city centre, Levenshulme offers an easy commute and bargain rents.
This smart enclave eleven miles south of Manchester boasts some of the city’s wealthiest residents. There are large properties, spacious gardens, good schools and a sense of community.
A smart, family-friendly suburb with a good train service into the city and lots of Victorian houses.
With the main university halls of residents in this area, there are lots of students so it has a youthful vibe and affordable restaurants and bars.
This is the bohemian district, beloved by young urbanites and hipsters. It’s up and coming, with plenty of eclectic independent shops and restaurants.
Five miles from the centre of town and just north of Prestwich, Whitefield is the subject of a £4 million regeneration scheme. Rents are reasonable and there’s lots of open space, making it a great place for families.
Who Lives and Works in Manchester?
Greater Manchester has a population of 2.55 million and is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the UK. It also boasts one of the youngest populations in the country with a high numbers in the 20-35 age group. Manchester has large communities of Irish, Pakistanis, Indians, Poles and Chinese, with the second largest Chinatown in the UK. 92 percent of the population speak English and the next most common languages spoken are Urdu, Polish, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Arabic.
Manchester’s economy is important to the UK and has been growing by more than two percent above the national average for a number of years. It also has the ninth lowest tax cost of any industrialised city in the world, making it an attractive UK base for global companies. The most important economic sectors in Manchester are financial services, the creative and digital industries, engineering, education and manufacturing. There are almost 100,000 jobs in the financial sector and more than 60 banks have offices in the city. Over half of the Northwest’s top 500 businesses are headquartered here, as well as a large number of FTSE 100 companies and foreign-owned enterprises. Big names in the city include The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, The Bank of New York Mellon, Kellogg’s, Deloitte, KPMG and Siemens.
In conjunction with the university’s research capability, there’s a large number of innovative high-value start-ups in biotechnology, software development, ICT, textiles, chemicals, electronics and environmental technologies. And with four universities, education is another important employer of expats in the city. Manchester also ranks as the second largest creative and digital hub in Europe, focused in Media City.
It’s a great place for women to live and work. The gender pay gap is way lower here than in the rest of the UK—3.3 percent versus 11.1 percent. It also has a higher percentage of degree level qualifications in the workforce. Cheaper office space and a skilled workforce has led to the phenomenon of ‘Northshoring’, when companies move substantial portions of their operations to the north to save on operating costs in the south.
The Best Bits
The centre of Manchester reflects its heritage as the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and there are numerous grandiose red brick Victorian buildings. Around the city centre, cotton mills have been redeveloped and converted into smart apartments and offices, while the Town Hall in Albert Square is one of the most impressive Victorian buildings in the country. However, Manchester’s continuing importance to the UK economy is reflected in the continual construction of new and exciting buildings in the city which has so much to offer.
- Manchester Arena can seat more than 21,000, making it the largest arena in Europe and a major music and entertainment venue—busier even than Madison Square Garden in New York.
- Manchester is home to two symphony orchestras and a chamber orchestra, while the Royal Northern College of Music makes it a hub for classical music education and composers.
- The city has a dynamic performing arts sector with an opera house and two major theatres, as well as a multitude of smaller venues.
- The Manchester International Festival is a biennial arts festival with a focus on new original work.
- There are several museums and art galleries including: the Manchester Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Imperial War Museum, the Manchester Art Gallery, the Lowry and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
- Manchester’s nightlife is legendary, with 500 licensed premises and 12,000 employees.
- The city boasts two premier league football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City.
- The Chill Factore is the UK’s longest indoor ski slope.
- There are six Local Nature Reserves within the urban area.
Bringing the Kids
Manchester is an exciting city that makes a great place to bring your family. The centre is packed with culture and entertainment, while the suburbs offer large, affordable property and green open spaces. A good education has always been valued here and there’s plenty of intellectual stimulation. At the same time, it’s easy to escape to the countryside, with the spectacular beauty of the Pennines and the Lake District to the north, the Peak District to the east and easy access to North Wales to the southwest.
However, the most important decision when bringing children to a new country is how and where they will be educated. Manchester has some excellent schools but you’ll need to do your homework in advance and choose where you’re going to live on the basis of where your children will go to school.
- State schools can vary widely in quality and the best ones are usually over-subscribed.
- State schools are free to UK citizens and to foreigners legally residing in the country.
- Most state schools base admissions on the local catchment area, but grammar schools, which have higher academic standards, will require your child to sit an entrance exam.
- There are plenty of fee-paying schools offering either the UK curriculum or the International Baccalaureate. Admission requirements vary from school to school.
- There are currently no international schools in Manchester. Parents wanting to send their children to an international school could consider boarding further afield as an option.
- Three of Manchester’s universities are based around Oxford Road, south of the city centre, forming Europe’s largest educational campus.
Relocating to Manchester
As the UK’s second city, Manchester is vibrant and forward-looking, having been built on the rock solid foundation of the Victorian economic boom. As industry in the UK has dwindled, the city has reinvented itself in the service sector and with Media City, a new chapter as a creative hub has begun. Invested in history, big on education and with a strong cultural and entertainment sector, there’s plenty here to attract multinational businesses and expat employees. Away from the hothouse of the South East, Manchester is both more affordable and more relaxed, and it’s an excellent base for business. In terms of lifestyle, it scores well, with a wide choice of property styles—from sophisticated urban apartments to spacious Victorian and Edwardian family homes. However, if you don’t know the area and need to find suitable schools, using the services of a relocation agent will considerably smooth your path.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Manchester, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
Average Monthly Rent - Manchester