Bursting with life and character, Manchester City Centre has rapidly become a hub of entertainment, culture and nightlife. Drawing in millions of visitors every year, whether to experience the ever-expanding restaurant scene or watch two of the worlds most successful football teams play, there’s plenty to see and do in this metropolitan hotspot. But what’s it like to live in Manchester City Centre?
Voted in the top 15 of Time Out’s best cities in the world, Manchester is underpinned with a rich industrial and musical history. The city has birthed some of the most successful musicians, including The Stone Roses, Joy Division and Oasis. Not to mention the historic pubs and bars dotted around that now showcase the next generation of talent to come from this North West City.
Ever-changing, the city has enjoyed a recent property boom and many redevelopments of old industrial mills have turned into cultural hubs and modern apartments. Bringing an influx of young professionals and families to call the city centre home.
Whether you are visiting Manchester as a tourist, or moving to Manchester and buying a home, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. Our guide rounds up several of the most unmissable spots a stone’s throw from New Cross Central, and some handy tips for living like a local while you’re here – you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Eat, drink, party, repeat
Whether you’re familiar with Manchester as a food and nightlife hotspot or not, it’s difficult to ignore the rising reputation that the food and beverage scene has seen recently. You only have to wander through the Northern Quarter to see the new bars and restaurants opening up each week. The city prides itself on its extensive range of culinary specialities, whether it’s plant-based you’re after, looking for somewhere off the beaten track, or fancy the ultimate indulgence of a Michelin star rated experience, there is something to satisfy anyone’s taste!
There are plenty of bars to choose from throughout the city too. In the summer months, if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunny day stroll down the canal to Castlefield, where students and locals alike head in their droves to catch some sun with a few drinks. If you’re looking for something more upmarket, Spinningfields has a plethora of cocktail bars, popular with footballers and celebrities. Check out 20 Stories for 360 views of the city with a drink in hand, or The Ivy if avant-garde decor and Instagrammable drinks are your thing.
As the home of The Hacienda and The Warehouse Project don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes (or at least a comfy pair) when heading out in the city for the night. If indie bars are more your scene, stop by The Soup Kitchen or Night and Day Cafe, and maybe you’ll uncover the next big thing. Manchester City Centre also has a host of larger venues, with Manchester Arena, The Manchester Apollo, and The Etihad Stadium all hosting shows from Liam Gallagher, Taylor Swift, and Foo Fighters recently.
Shop ‘til you drop
If your money is burning a hole in your pocket, the shopping on offer in the city centre is sure to help! Whether you are interested in high-end purchases or looking for vintage treasures, you won’t be walking away empty-handed. Market Street, the spine of the city centre, is the place to go to find all the high street shops you’d come to expect, all conveniently located in the Arndale shopping centre. Walk a little further to Cathedral Street and you’ll find Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and House of Fraser before ending in Spinningfields for designer goods.
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, head to the Northern Quarter and get lost in the wacky and wonderful Afflecks Palace, which has several floors of independent shops, cafes, and even a tattooist or two! You’ll find an abundance of vintage shops, quirky bookstores, and comic shops in the Northern Quarter too, so be sure to take a wander (if your shopping bags aren’t too heavy!).
Looking beyond the city centre, to Greater Manchester, world-renown shopping and leisure destination The Trafford Centre is just a few tram stops away via public transport or a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Artfully designed with Athenian flair, the huge mall has hundreds of shops, restaurants, and leisure facilities to keep you entertained, well worth a visit during your time here!
Job opportunities galore
We can’t cover what it’s like to live in Manchester city centre without mentioning the job market. When the BBC announced it was moving its headquarters to Media City in Salford Quays in 2011, the Manchester job market widened exponentially, attracting creatives, designers, and professionals from all over the country. Since then, the job market has shown no signs of slowing across the city, and Manchester is now considered one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country. Cultural, arts, and creative jobs make up a lot of the landscape, but there are also plenty of opportunities in finance and hospitality. With the strongest economy outside of London, you’d stand in great stead jumping on the career ladder in Manchester.
The city has two major train stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria, and is only two hours on the train from London. Both stations offer great public transport links to the rest of the UK too. There is also a regular tram service throughout the city, into the Greater Manchester boroughs.
Manchester is also a university city, with one of the largest student populations in the country, with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Salford University calling the city home.
Did we mention there’s football? (and other sports)
We couldn’t tell you what’s it like to live in Manchester city centre without mentioning the football, could we? Whether your allegiance lies with red or blue, you won’t be short of entertainment with these two world class clubs in the city. Both football grounds are located within easy distance on the tram or by Uber from the city centre. It’s definitely worth heading to the city centre when these two clubs meet, just for the atmosphere alone.
If lower league football catches your interest, Salford City, owned by United’s own Gary Neville, also play in the city and their meteoric rise through the ranks is an impressive watch.
Not forgetting the cricket either, just a stone’s throw from Manchester United’s Old Trafford, is Old Trafford cricket ground, home to Lancashire County Cricket Club. The ground hosts many One Day Internationals and matches throughout the year, and tickets can be snapped up here. The ground is also used as a music venue in the summer months, so keep an eye out for announcements.
The Countryside on your doorstep
While living in the hustle and bustle of the city centre is undoubtedly great, there’s sometimes nothing better than putting on some walking boots and heading out into the countryside for some fresh air. One of the great things about Manchester is it’s proximity to great outdoor spaces and walks.
Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, and less than 90 minutes from the Lake District, you are never far from nature. Dovestone Reservoir is just 40 minutes away, , or get the train to Saddleworth to experience some top walking spots, not far from your home in the city.
A hub for culture and the arts
Manchester is well known for its rich history and cultural scene, from the Northern Quarter to the Museum of Science and Industry, the city celebrates the arts, media and history in a number of unique ways. There’s always a show to watch, a gallery to attend or a museum to visit.
Whether you’re looking for inspiring theatre or off-beat comedy, Manchester’s culture scene has it all. Head to HOME just off First Street to witness some of the city’s biggest talents take the stage, or visit one of the city’s art galleries, like Whitworth Art Gallery. You could also laugh your socks off at the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club on Oldham Street.
Find out more about Manchester’s part in the industrial revolution at the Museum of Science and Industry or immerse yourself in the story of Emmeline Pankhurst and the plight of The Suffragettes at The Pankhurst Centre.
What’s it like to live in Manchester city centre from your perspective? Have you uncovered any hidden gems you think we should shout about? Let us know via Instagram.