North vs South: Is London really a better place to live and work than Manchester?

Manchester drain cover

The Economist’s Global Liveability Index for 2018 ranked Manchester as the most liveable city in the UK, leading London by 13 spots.

While the city’s recovery from the 2017 terror attack and its overall improved security were cited as the primary factors for this ranking, there are several other reasons why more than 10,000 people have left the capital and moved up north.

1. More Job Opportunities

According to think tank Centre for Cities, Manchester’s job growth from 2002 to 2015 is at a whopping 84%, as opposed to London’s 71% during the same timeframe. Meanwhile, the average city job growth in England and Wales was 34%, further demonstrating how much Manchester surpassed its counterparts.

It’s even predicted that post-Brexit, Manchester will lead the entire country’s economic growth, thanks to its digital infrastructures, top universities, and transportation, among other factors.

Due to these numbers, the city is continuously attracting more businesses in the creative and digital sectors, which translates to more jobs.

Although East London has solidified its standing as a hotspot of creative outlets and industries, Manchester also has its own growing creative hub—MediaCityUK. BBC’s relocation to MediaCityUK in 2010 further compelled other business owners to move up north. Today, this 200-acre creative hub is home to a community of more than 200 businesses of all sizes.

Tech startups are also choosing Manchester over the capital. This further increases the need for coworking spaces in Manchester to accomodate for the influx. If you’re looking to find a job, especially in the creative and tech sectors, then Manchester is the place to be.

2. Faster Internet Speed

For the city’s digital sector to keep up with its reputation and the growing demand, it needs to have a robust digital infrastructure, foremost of which is its internet service.

In 2015, Virgin Media invested £3 billion in creating super fast broadband for the city. Manchester is the first city in the UK to benefit from the company’s Project Lightning initiative, which includes creating ultrafast connectivity to four million premises.

This project is set to roll out by 2021 in Manchester, with internet speeds said to be clocking in at 1 Gbps. Just last month, the cable ISP finished rolling out 500 Mbps capable FTTP broadband and phone network to 4,000 homes in the Gorton area.

Currently, Manchester is one of the six cities in the UK to have a 5G network, launched by EE Limited last May.

3. Lower Cost of Living and Working

Whether it’s for the employer or the employee, Manchester has a lower cost of living and working compared to London. Just take a look at these prices:

  • The weekly bus pass in Manchester is £16, while it goes up to £21.20 in London

According to Numbeo, you will need £3,035.89 in Manchester to maintain the same lifestyle that will cost you £4,600.00 in London. Estimates from Expatistan, meanwhile, shows that living in Manchester is 35% cheaper than living in London.

4. Better Healthcare

Greater Manchester is the only UK region so far that has taken control of its residents’ social care spending.

In 2016, the local government took over its £6 billion healthcare budget, as well as its £450 million extra funding, to create a five-year transformation programme.

“I want us to be freed up to properly say, right, we will work really differently as one public service and truly embrace prevention,” Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said.

This devolution, so far, has formed neighbourhood medical teams (consisting of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare practitioners), wider services from GPs, as well as easier access to emergency care.

The city also has initiatives for preventing diseases like diabetes, quitting alcohol and smoking addiction among its residents, helping those with disabilities to get jobs, and providing cancer patients access to treatment via clinical trials.

5. Better Transportation

Transportation within the city, as well as going in and out, are also more accessible and convenient:

  • Trams vs Tube — Using the London Underground means you’ll have to share the same space with hundreds of other people packed together inside the tube, while Manchester trams are more spacious and will give you a good view of the city
  • Magic Bus — The Manchester Magic Bus fleet consists of 72 buses currently taking passengers in several routes within the city at cheap prices
  • Airport — The Manchester Airport is also an international one, but you won’t have to deal with long lines nor with any confusing transport arrangements

6. Closer to Other Locations

Manchester is surrounded by countryside, perfect for those who want to quickly escape the city life. For instance, the Peak District, Snowdonia, and the Lake District are about an hour’s drive away. In London, you can drive for an hour and you’ll still end up within city limits.

You can also visit dozens of little villages minutes away from Manchester’s city centre—a stark contrast from London’s suburban sprawl.

Meanwhile, the airport can take you anywhere in the world or you can just as easily take the ferry to Ireland via Liverpool.

7. Less Dense Population

As of 2019, the population count in Manchester is at 395,515, while London is home to 7,556,900 people.

Due to its less dense population, walkways in Manchester are more expansive. You’ll notice more breathing space, as opposed to London’s packed and fast-paced living.

You’ll also notice that Manchester residents are more inclined to strike conversations with each other, even with complete strangers, giving the city a much friendlier vibe.

8. Sights and Sounds

Around the city, you’ll find several places where you can go by yourself or with your friends and colleagues, including:

  • The Piccadilly Gardens, a creative innovation that also doubles as a vital public space
  • Bars, pubs, and clubs where you can grab a drink or two after a long workday (e.g. The Warehouse Project, Northern Quarter, Deansgate, Chorlton, etc.)
  • Christmas Markets that see visitors from all over the world
  • Several buildings that still retain their industrial revolution architectural foundations
  • The Manchester Ship Canal where you can either embark on a river cruise to see its entire stretch or walk alongside it

Manchester as a Better Place to Live and Work

Manchester’s cheaper cost of living, burgeoning economy, and services that allow for a better quality of life have all unsurprisingly put it on top of the best cities to live in the country. If you’re still on the fence about moving up north and leaving the hectic life in the capital, then take a look at this list again and find out why thousands of people have chosen to move here.

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