Moving to Manchester

An overview of Manchester

The UK’s second most-populated city has a rich history of culture, industry, and success that informs its exciting present and future.

From its humble beginnings as the Roman settlement of Mamucium nearly 2,000 years ago, this north-west hub grew to be the world’s first industrial city and a site of scientific progress, with Ernest Rutherford splitting the atom at Manchester University in 1917.

This diverse city has enjoyed a reinvigorated economy over the past couple of decades, and also sits as a paragon of cultural excitement.

The city boasts two Premier League-winning football clubs, bands like Oasis, the Bee Gees, and the Stone Roses, and nine restaurants in the Michelin Guide, including Indian, Spanish, and French cuisine – plus the infamous and delicious Curry Mile.

And don’t believe the stereotypes about it raining every day – you’ll only get wet 143 days out of the year, or 39% of the time.

View of a footbridge in Salford quays in Manchester, England

The Salford Quays can take your breath away

The cost of moving to Manchester

Just like any relocation, the cost of moving to Manchester will depend on where you’re coming from, and what you’re bringing.

If you’re planning to move the contents of a three-bedroom house (roughly 875 cubic metres of belongings) from London to Manchester, you should expect to pay £1,341, on average.

This includes: 

  • loading and unloading 
  • packing services and materials 
  • dismantling and reassembling furniture
  • the fee for distance travelled

The drive from London to Manchester is around 210 miles, and most removal companies charge £1 per mile (source: comparemymove, 2020).

The amount you’ll end up paying will also vary depending on your moving date, the removal company you choose, and whether you require any additional services.

Cost of living in Manchester

The UK’s second city may be home to some of the most expensive footballers in the world, but it’s much cheaper to live in than many other British hubs.

Manchester doesn’t feature in the top 20 least affordable UK cities (source: Lloyds Bank, 2019) – though it did come ninth in terms of house price growth, suggesting it’s a city on the rise.

Here’s a look at how much you can expect to pay for different goods and services in Manchester (source: Numbeo, 2020).

ItemAverage price
Pint of beer£4
Regular cappuccino£2.81
Mid-range bottle of wine£7
Monthly public transport pass£70
Cinema ticket for one£7.75
Monthly gym subscription£28.39
1kg of local cheese£5.52

Property prices

House prices are generally extremely reasonable in Manchester.

In Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index 2019, Manchester came 11th out of 20 UK cities, with a house price-to-earnings ratio of 5.9

That’s lower than the UK average of 6.7, and even better when you consider that in London, Cambridge, and Oxford, a house will cost you 13.1, 12.2, and 11.9 times your salary, respectively.

The average house value in Manchester has increased by 3.95% over the past 12 months to £202,905. The average price for flats is significantly lower though, at £185,742, and the average cost of a terraced house is lower still, at £154,469. (source: Zoopla, 2020).

If you want to rent a property in Manchester, you can expect to pay £775 per month, on average – slightly above the national average of £700 (sources: Manchester Evening News, 2018, and Office for National Statistics, 2019).

Council tax

The council tax bands in Manchester for 2020/21 range from £1,149.80 per year (A) to £3,449.42 per year (H), depending on the type and location of your property. There is also a reduced rate if you or someone who lives with you is disabled.

Electricity bills

As with house prices, you can expect your electricity bills in Manchester to be around the UK average.

The average fixed cost of electricity in the North West is £86.40 per year, which is just £1.78 more than the UK average of £84.62.

And the average variable unit price of electricity in the North West is 17.7p per kWh, which is 0.2p lower than the UK average of 17.9p (source: NimbleFins, 2020).

Public transport in Manchester

There are plenty of excellent walking and cycling routes in Manchester, but in general, it’s too large for most people to be able to walk everywhere. Thankfully, its public transport system is fantastic. 

The city gave the world the first inter-city passenger railway station, and it’s never stopped innovating. Manchester now boasts a plethora of buses, trams, and trains that run from around 6am to midnight, throughout the week.

You can even get a free bus service around the city centre, and many of the trains travel between Manchester and neighbouring areas like Oldham, Rochdale, and Wigan.

A weekly System One travelcard will allow you to use any bus in Manchester for just £19.50. If you want to add unlimited tram or train travel to that deal, it’ll cost an extra £20.

Find out more information about Manchester’s public transport on the new Transport for Greater Manchester site.

Working in Manchester

Manchester is thriving, and you could benefit.

According to Lambert Smith Hampton's 2019 Vitality Index, which looks at towns and cities outside of London, Manchester is the third-best place in the UK to support growth.

In March 2020, there were 22,850 enterprises in Manchester, according to the Office for National Statistics. That means there’s one business for every 123 Mancunians.

Key sectors in Manchester include financial, legal and business services, media, real estate, biotechnology, digital and creative services – and of course, global sports brands.

Large companies like The Co-operative Group, Umbro, and the Peel Group are based in the city, while international brands including Adidas, Kellogg's, and Siemens have their UK headquarters in Manchester.

Manchester also has five top-quality universities that serve around 100,000 students every year, and has shown its forward-looking nature with its aim to become a zero-carbon city by 2038.

Average salary in Manchester

The average full-time salary in Manchester is £29,000, based on data from Payscale. This is slightly lower than the UK national average, which sat at £30,800 in 2020.

Alexandra Park showing off its autumn foliage in November 2020

The best neighbourhoods in Manchester

From child-friendly to cool and kitsch, Manchester is made up of diverse towns circling the city centre, just like London and Leeds – meaning there are enough unique places for everyone to feel at home. Here are three of our favourite Manchester neighbourhoods.

Altrincham

A peaceful, thriving neighbourhood for families

Average property price: £525,958

A £6 million regeneration project has borne fruit in Altrincham, which was named The Sunday TimesBest Place to Live in the UK 2020.

This suburban market town is surrounded by the gorgeous green belt, yet sits at the end of a tram line that’ll quickly take you the eight miles to Manchester city centre.

It also has excellent schools and an exciting bar and restaurant scene in Goose Green, so parents will be set.

Sale

The perfect neighbourhood for commuters

Average property price: £339,481

Sale is closer to the centre of Manchester, with excellent transport links, but is much more affordable for the average worker than Altrincham.

Don’t equate affordability with lower quality, though. In 2017, the Royal Mail dubbed Sale the fourth-best place to live and work in England, and there’s plenty to enjoy on the south bank of the Mersey.

Take in regular shows at the Waterside Arts centre, enjoy live music and craft beer at The Steamhouse, and pick up a delicious tea at independent café Serendipitea.

Ancoats

The coolest place in town for young professionals

Average property price: £210,725

Don’t tell the Northern Quarter, but Ancoats may have nipped in and stolen the title of coolest neighbourhood in Manchester.

A quick walk through this central locale will reveal Japanese tea specialists, artisan bakeries, and multiple delicious Vietnamese restaurants – not to mention the best pizza in Manchester, mind-blowing street art, and plenty of independent theatres.

Things to do in Manchester

Culture

As you’d expect from such a large, diverse city, there’s a whole host of cultural activities available to everyone lucky enough to live in Manchester.

From Manchester Art Gallery’s pre-Raphaelite paintings and the medieval beauty of Manchester Cathedral and John Rylands Library, to Manchester Museum’s fossilised T-Rex, the city has enough cultural activities to destroy every stereotype about the north.

Make sure to also drop by Manchester Opera House, which is a microcosm of the city’s diversity. You can watch the Moscow City Ballet dance Swan Lake one week, and enjoy the stylings of drag queen extraordinaire Trixie Mattel the next – and you should.

History

There are a host of opportunities in Manchester for any fan of history. Visit the Imperial War Museum North to learn everything you need to know about past conflicts, and peruse the Science and Industry Museum to learn about the city’s glorious recent past.

Speaking of which, you can also make a pilgrimage to the National Football Museum. It’s only right, since Manchester clubs have won 61% of all Premier League titles. Just make sure to clear your schedule for the rest of the day, because you won’t want to leave.

Sport

If you’re moving to Manchester, you should embrace the culture, and that means experiencing a live match at Old Trafford, the Etihad Stadium – or preferably, both.

United and City’s rivalry is historically and culturally significant, and also, you get to watch some of the best players on the planet create art with their boots.

And once you’re done marvelling at Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, and Raheem Sterling, go have some fun at the Chill Factore snow centre, where you can ski, snowboard, and sledge to your heart’s delight.

Manchester nightlife

You can party late into the night in Manchester, at a massive variety of bars, nightclubs, and music venues.

Drink award-winning cocktails at Mahiki, enjoy live music in the splendor of a former Wesleyan chapel at the Albert Hall, and dance until your feet hurt at dozens of clubs, from the unique Deaf Institute to the iconic art-deco Ritz.

And if you want a comprehensive account of every venue in the city, Visit Manchester has you covered.