A huge metropolitan county with a lively and influential city at its heart, Greater Manchester offers a diverse market when it comes to property.
A vast metropolitan area comprising 10 boroughs, Greater Manchester spans 493 square miles, surrounding the vibrant city of Manchester itself – a centre of sport, music, art, nightlife and huge economic importance. And for property buyers, it offers just as much variety.
What to expect when living in Greater Manchester
The Global Liveability Survey, which rates the cities of the world according to factors such as healthcare and education provision, stability and infrastructure, and culture and environment, ranked Manchester as the world's 46th most liveable city in 2015 – and the UK’s best.
Manchester’s manageable population size, rich culture and extensive transport network were key contributors to its success in the survey and – to the quality of life of its inhabitants.
The city also boasts one of the largest economies in the UK. Well known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, it has long been associated with progress and success. And, following a period of decline in the late-20th century, Manchester has undergone huge architectural and economic revival in recent years and re-emerged as a key part of the country’s Northern Powerhouse.
Thanks in part to the size of the Greater Manchester region, which includes Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan, as well as Manchester and Salford cities, it also offers a wide-ranging residential property portfolio – great for those thinking of relocating.
Exploring houses for sale in Greater Manchester
In property terms, Greater Manchester is most well-known for its iconic red brick terraced houses. Built for workers during the early Victorian industrial age, these compact but comfortable period homes now provide a great option for first-time buyers young families and all tend to be in close proximity to local amenities.
If you want to be close to the action, Manchester city centre offers a variety of apartments – including modern, new build homes and some cool period conversions. Try the Ropeworks, Deansgate Locks and Castlefield for one- and two-bedroom modern penthouses, as well as other areas close to the city centre such as central Salford, Hulme and Ardwick.
Some of the most fashionable areas of Greater Manchester include Chorlton and Didsbury, a few miles south of the city centre. Here you’ll find a similarly diverse mix of housing styles, from period through to new-build, in distinctly cosmopolitan surroundings. Naturally, these are also the more expensive areas in which to buy, but the rewards lie in the village-like atmosphere, café culture and convenient location.
Ashton-under-Lyne is a bustling market town that sits between Manchester and the Peak District National Park. Seek out new-build homes here at Taylor Wimpey's Stamford Gate development and take full advantage of the town's excellent amenities, or look at properties in the King's Grange development just outside of the town in Audenshaw.
Family homes in Greater Manchester
Many families head for the aforementioned areas of Chorlton and Didsbury when choosing a home, but a report by Property Detective has highlighted some other tangible alternatives.
Taking into consideration such factors as the quality of schools, population size, crime levels and the number of green spaces, the 2015 Family Friendliness Index indicated that a certain Wellington Drive in Worsley near Bolton was the best place a family could choose to live in Greater Manchester.
Current residents cite the community spirit, safety, proximity to a number of good schools and value for money (including benefiting from lower Wigan council tax rates) as key reasons why they love living on the street, which is part of a modern estate.
Wellington Drive was followed by St Michael’s Avenue, Atherton, and Commonside Road, Worsley, in second and third place, and then Astley Street, Tyldesley; Waterpark Road, Higher Broughton; Fog Lane, Withington; Laburnum Lane, Denton; Kirkway, Middleton; Brookburn Road, Stretford; and Medlock Road, Failsworth.
Things to do in Greater Manchester
Locals and outsiders alike agree sport and music spring to mind first when thinking about Manchester. And for good reason, as they are two key elements of the city’s heritage.
Sport: Two of the country’s biggest football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City, call the county home, and their top performance in the Premier League and inherent rivalry ensure packed stadiums at Old Trafford and the City of Manchester Stadium. Bank balances are pretty healthy too. Manchester United was the highest earning Premier League club in 2014/15, closely followed by – you’ve guessed it – Manchester City.
Manchester city is also a centre for cricket, with the Old Trafford Cricket Ground being one of the most renowned test venues in international cricket – and England’s second oldest. Successful Commonwealth and Olympic Games bids have also resulted in impressive swimming and cycling facilities.
Music: Music and concert venues are widespread in Manchester – unsurprising considering the area’s musical pedigree. The city’s music scene exploded during the 1980s punk and post-punk era when it produced iconic bands including The Smiths, Joy Division and Happy Mondays. And of course, in the Britpop 90s the hugely popular Oasis was born.
These days, Manchester bands continue to carve out success on a national and international level – take alternative rock band Elbow, for example.
Music enthusiasts will not be short of live music venues in the Greater Manchester area either. The biggest include Manchester Arena, the O2 Apollo, Manchester Central and Manchester Academy, as well as the city’s various sporting grounds.
There are also more than 30 smaller venues that cater to unsigned as well as signed bands. Band on the Wall is a great example, located in the vibrant Northern Quarter of the city with its creative café culture and many independent businesses.
Nightlife: Manchester is also well-known for its vibrant nightlife, with bars and clubs spread across the city – Spinningfields being a popular haunt. Further afield, Didsbury and Withington are also popular for revellers.
Art and culture: The Lowry in Salford, Manchester Art Gallery, the Imperial War Museum North, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Manchester Museum are among the most popular attractions, and many offer free entry.
Smaller, independently funded venues such as Islington Mill, Salford, and the Paper Gallery, Manchester, host pop-up exhibitions and events each month.
Food and drink: Manchester is also home to one of the fastest-growing independent food and drink scenes in the country, with The Manchester Food and Drink Festival now a key date in the city’s calendar of events.
If you're looking for a high-end eatery, head towards Deansgate, St Ann’s Square and King Street. Although Manchetser also has a wider range of restaurants, traditional pubs, gastro-pubs and cafés to suit a wider range of budgets. These include Chinatown on Faulkner Street and the Curry Mile in Rusholme.
Meanwhile, for relaxing escapes, the countryside and coast are within easy reach of Greater Manchester, as is the Derbyshire Peak District National Park – the area offers the best of both worlds.
The best coffee shops in Greater Manchester
Just up for a quick coffee? Stop in at Coffee Fix in Cheadle for a pit stop if you're cycling; Takk in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for a creative hangout; Lupo Caffè Italiano in Salford for a taste of Italy; Barbecue Coffee House and Roastery in Chorlton for in-house coffee roasting or the Barracks Coffee House in Bury for a Lancashire Fusiliers theme.
For something totally different, try Pot Kettle Black in Deansgate. It's run by two health-conscious rugby players who offer workout sessions as well as coffee, cake and healthy shakes.
Finding jobs in Greater Manchester
Once the industrial epicentre of the country, Greater Manchester still offers a range of employment opportunities from logistics to retail, manufacturing to banking and from hospitality to media.
Some of the biggest employers in Greater Manchester include Google, Deloitte, KPMG, Siemens, The Co-operative Group and Kelloggs, which demonstrates the breadth of active industry sectors in the area.
The BBC has a major presence there too, having recently moved significant parts of its operations to MediaCityUK on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Education is another key employment sector as Manchester has one of the largest student populations in the UK. The University of Manchester, Salford University, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Manchester College and the University of Bolton, among many other institutions, are all located in the region.
The infrastructure in Greater Manchester
But despite much investment in the road network in Greater Manchester, congestion can still cause problems at peak times. Luckily, there are many other transport options to choose from for those preferring to avoid the queues.
These include an extensive bus network and the Metrolink, which can run on rails or as a tram on the roads. Both connect the city centre with Altrincham, Eccles, Bury, Ashton-under-Lyme, Rochdale and Manchester Airport, and numerous stops in between.
The two main railway stations in Manchester are Victoria and Piccadilly, which can also be reached via the Metrolink. Between them they provide both local services and major routes north and south.
Greater Manchester also benefits from a major international airport, Manchester Airport, which handles around 19 million passengers each year, flying with more than 60 airlines to 200 destinations.
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