While Manchester may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering a move to the UK, this fast-developing city is becoming an increasingly popular destination both among Brits and expats looking to start a new chapter.
As is the case with any city in the world, there are both pros and cons to living in Manchester. We've listed below some of the main advantages and disadvantages worth bearing in mind before making a decision to relocate to Manchester.
Accommodation in Manchester
+ PRO: A range of accommodation options available
Whether expats prefer modern city living or a comfy family home in the suburbs, they’ll find a range of accommodation options available in Manchester. To house the city’s growing population, Manchester has seen a rise in new property developments in recent years so there is no doubt new arrivals will find a suitable home.
Working in Manchester
+ PRO: A variety of job opportunities
Manchester is a dynamic metropolitan area and those with expertise in a range of industries such as finance, law, biotechnology and digital media will find great opportunities if they plan on working in the city. Another plus is that the job market in Manchester is slightly less competitive than that in London so this is the perfect place for those starting out.
- CON: Lower salaries
While there are plenty of job opportunities in Manchester, salaries are noticably lower than those in London or other major European cities.
Cost of living in Manchester
+ PRO: Rent prices are relatively low
Compared to other major British cities, rent prices in Manchester are low. Apartments in the Northern Quarter tend to be the most expensive because of their sought-after location. Those willing to live further afield and make use of the city’s excellent public transport networks will find they can make quite a saving.
Getting around in Manchester
+ PRO: Excellent public transport networks
Manchester is home to a bus route thought to be the busiest in all of Europe. New arrivals will find getting around the city is rather easy thanks to excellent bus and tram networks. Plus, bus fares remain competitive owing to the fact that there are a number of different service providers operating on similar routes.
+ PRO: Increased investment into cycling infrastructure
In the past, Manchester was known for being notoriously inhospitable for cyclists. Roadworks, traffic and lack of cycle lanes were just some of the issues that made it difficult for cyclists. In recent years the city has invested considerable time and money into improving infrastructure to enable commuters to cycle safely.
Lifestyle in Manchester
+ PRO: Fantastic nightlife and music scene
Manchester is famed for its rich musical history and has been dubbed the UK’s music capital. Whether it's live jazz, classical, indie or electronic music they fancy, those living in Manchester will be spoilt for choice.
+ PRO: Friendly locals
Most visitors to the UK tend to visit London first and often comment about the unfriendliness of the capital’s population. That won’t be the case in Manchester. Here, expats are likely to find the locals are friendly, curious and often eager to engage in conversation.
+ PRO: Culturally diverse and progressive
Manchester is a culturally diverse city thanks to a history of immigration. From China Town to the Curry Mile, new arrivals will be exposed to a range of different cultural offerings in the city.
- CON: Lots of students
With four universities within close proximity of one another, Manchester is home to a massive student population. Being constantly surrounded by large groups of carefree young people may not be everyone’s cup of tea. That said, living further afield in more affluent areas means that one can largely avoid the student crowd.
Weather in Manchester
- CON: The rain
Mention Manchester to a Brit, and rain is probably the first thing they'll mention. This is no exaggeration – the rain and associated grey skies are a constant presence in Manchester. However, Mancunians don’t allow the weather to get in the way of having fun, so do as the locals do and invest in a good umbrella.
+ PRO: The city comes to life on rare sunny days
Sunny days are few and far between in Manchester but locals make the most of it. Expect to see beer gardens full of students and parks full of families the moment the sun makes an appearance.
Education and schools in Manchester
+ Pro : Free government-funded schooling
As is the case throughout the UK, British citizens and foreign nationals legally living in the UK are entitled to send their children to a government-funded school at little to no cost. That said, new arrivals are advised to do some serious research into their chosen school as standards do vary quite dramatically in Manchester. The better performing schools tend to be oversubscribed and priority goes to students in the local catchment area.
- CONS: No international schools in Manchester
Expats who wish to have their child continue studying their home curriculum will have a hard time in Manchester as there are no schools in the city offering the curriculum of a foreign country. That said, there are a number of good private schools that teach International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum which is standardised worldwide.
Healthcare in Manchester
+ PRO: Access to the NHS
Expats living in Manchester will have access to good healthcare in the form of the NHS (National Health Service) at little to no cost. There are some excellent public hospitals in the city where the standard of care is world class. While patients are required to pay for certain medications, the cost of these is often subsidised and therefore works out considerably cheaper.
- CON: Long NHS waiting lists and expensive private healthcare options
Waiting lists for certain treatments in the UK are long. It's possible to bypass these and explore options in the private sector. Private healthcare in the UK is expensive though and those with any ongoing health issues or chronic illnesses planning on using private health services should invest in a comprehensive insurance policy.
►For a list of must-see attractions in the city, read the See and Do in Manchester page
Are you an expat living in Manchester?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Manchester. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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