It's recently been named as one of the top 10 cities to visit, but Manchester is also a great place to put down permanent roots.
Overview: It may not have the tropical charms of Quito in Ecuador or the romance of Rome, but Manchester has just been named alongside these two cities in the annual Lonely Planet guide to the world’s top 10 cities to visit. Feted for its culture and arts scene, its shopping and nightlife, this Northern Powerhouse is having a real moment.
Where is it?: Manchester is the beating heart of north west England.
How much will it cost me?: The average property in Greater Manchester (as of December 2015) costs £161,206, up 5.81% in the last year.
In Manchester city centre prices have risen 4.81% in the same period to an average value of £175,006.
What the experts say: In Manchester city centre Nick Stanton, senior manager at Bridgfords estate agents said that some areas – including the trendy Northern Quarter and up-and-coming Ancoats – have been performing well, but that a high volume of stock for sale is tempering price growth. "There is an enormous amount of property for sale and a lot of new-build going on," he said, "which means prices are not jumping forward."
This is a market that relies on buy-to-let and institutional investors. Stanton said that 40% of the calls he receives are from investors who can achieve annual yields of between 5% and 7%. How November’s announcement of higher Stamp Duty rates for buy-to-let properties will impact this market will be revealed next spring when the 3% loading comes into force.
Right now, however, Stanton said the real growth lies, "on the outskirts where there are no big developments and less stock on the market".
One of those suburbs which is performing strongly is Chorlton Cum Hardy, 3.5 miles south west of Manchester's centre. Paul Jenkins, sales manager at Sherlock Homes, estimates prices have increased by 20%. " This is thanks to BBC workers based in Salford Quays, and other young professionals drawn in by the area’s cool cafés and pubs. Parents are attracted by high standards of education." He also cites Chorlton Cum Hardy's transport links as a big draw. "It's on the Metro, it's within cycling distance of Salford Quays Media City, and the countryside is on the doorstep."
You can expect to pay around £200,000 for a two-bedroom house or between £300,000 and £350,000 for a three-bedroom house in the area.
Any downsides?: Like all cities, Manchester’s traffic is heavy in the centre and not helped by lots of building projects going on at the same time. In weather terms, locals complain of what feels like near-constant drizzle (although in fact the weather is no worse than the UK average), and some areas have a justified reputation for crime.
Top schools: Ambitious parents compete to get their girls into Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, one of the best state schools in England. Altringham Grammar School for Boys is hot on its heels. Other popular grammar schools include Stretford, Sale, and Loreto.
Landmarks: There are many options to choose from but, considering this city’s footballing heritage it has got to be Old Trafford.
History lesson: Manchester was established as a Roman fort but it was the Victorians who really put it on the map. During the Industrial Revolution its cotton mills were so productive, the city earned the nickname Cottonopolis.
Where to eat, drink and make merry: Grab a rum cocktail at The Liars Club, go to Didsbury for modern British at The Lime Tree, or if you want something more casual head to El Rincon, just off Deansgate, for great tapas.
Retail therapy: Head to the Northern Quarter where you will find stacks of galleries and boutiques. Lovers of vintage will fall in love with Afflecks Palace, an endless trove of fashion from a whole range of eras.
Trivial pursuit: The Rain Bar in the Northern Quarter is not simply a tribute to the city’s notoriously inclement weather. It is also housed in a former umbrella factory.
Whats on the Market?: