Manchester: the Northern powerhouse

Manchester’s rise in the UK as the Northern Powerhouse has garnered a lot of attention particularly over the past 5 years. But since the mid-2000s the city has increasingly been leaving it’s post-industrial past behind.

Manchester has earned its title as the second UK city to London, and importantly as one of Europe’s most popular destinations for professionals, tourists and students alike.

Dot made a conscious decision to move our global HQ from London to Manchester, because we see structural and demographic shifts driving resident demand for property in secondary locations globally.

Manchester’s population of 2.7 million is the largest of any city in the UK, outside of London.

Major levers

  • A strong diversified economy that is skewed towards in-demand sectors.
  • A skilled and young talent pool which the area is increasingly able to attract and retain.
  • A lower cost and better standard of living resulting in a strong net migration.
  • Strong transport and infrastructure with good connectivity to the rest of the UK and the world – with further investment set to continue for the foreseeable future.
  • High levels of foreign direct investment.
  • A fantastic history and culture.

Couple this with lower capital costs, higher investor yields and straightforward origination and sourcing, and we see Manchester – and indeed other burgeoning Northern Powerhouse Cities such as Leeds and Liverpool – as having the perfect balance for both investors and residents.

Northern powerhouse

Manchester is fast accelerating to become the powerhouse of the North. With a strong diversified economy, skilled workforce, strong transport connections to the UK and internationally as well as high levels of foreign direct investment the city has been developing dramatically and it is forecast to continue to do so in the future.

Infographic source: MIDAS Manchester overview stats 2018
  • 2.8 millions citizens, with a total of 7.2million within an hour commute.
  • 4 universities  with 100,000 students at any time.
  • £68.2bn – Manchester’s economy GVA.
  • Fastest growing major city outside of London.
  • 2 major football clubs in Manchester City and Manchester United.

The city was also recently voted as the top place to live in the UK in 2018 by The Economist’s ‘Global Liveability Index’ 2018. Manchester recorded the biggest improvements in the last 12 months – jumping 16 places – and demonstrating its recognition as an upcoming city.

Location and background

Manchester is located in the North West of the UK, between Liverpool and Leeds. It sits within the Greater Manchester region, which is comprised of 10 metropolitan boroughs that includes Central Manchester and the surrounding areas.

Manchester is a 2hour train from London and less than an hour from Leeds and Liverpool.

The majority of Manchester and the city centre is surrounded by the A57 ring road. Some of the larger sites are just outside of the ring road; Manchester United & City football stadiums, a few of the Universities, but within the ring-road you can find all of Manchester’s key districts in close proximity – on foot or by a short journey on tram or bus.

Transport and connections

Manchester is undeniably well connected. It’s easy to get around the city itself and equally simple to travel to and from Manchester both internationally and locally.

Most places within central Manchester are within a 25 minute walking distance, making it easy to navigate. Failing that, the city’s trams, buses and taxis (including Uber) are readily available making car free city living more than manageable.

Commuting into Manchester from other cities is also not difficult. The M60 motorway connects Manchester to the rest of the UK, whilst it’s three main train stations; Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road connect it by rail. It’s a 2 hour direct train into central London with departures every 20 minutes. Properties based close to Manchester Piccadilly station such as Dot’s Millington House enable residents to arrive in London in just over 2 hours door-to-door.

Through the continued delivery of HS2, other major UK infrastructure developments and £3bn in spending committed to transport development over the next 10 years, Manchester’s connectivity to the rest of the UK is set to improve further still. Indeed, once HS2 is completed, the journey time from Manchester to the centre of London will be just 1 hour 7 minutes, unlocking immense potential and opportunities for residents, businesses and tourists.

Manchester Airport’s 28 million annual passengers make it the 3rd busiest airport in the UK.

Manchester’s international airport connects the city to the rest of the world flying direct to all major European destinations, China (Beijing), Canada, the USA (Chicago, New York, LA, San Francisco and many more) and the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi). The airport already transports 28 million passengers to 220 cities and this is before the £1bn planned investment to continue to grow the airport over the coming years.

Economy and employment

Manchester boasts the fastest growing economy outside of London and is predicted to grow more quickly than any other city in the UK every year until 2021, even outpacing London.

Economically, Manchester is highly diverse – its industrial past left behind, as new specialisms take centre stage:

  • Business, finance and professional services
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Life sciences and healthcare
  • Energy and Environment
  • Creative, digital and technology

With 40% lower operating costs than London, great transport links and an abundance of skilled talent, it’s easy to see why FTSE 100 companies and many others are increasingly basing their primary HQ, national headquarters or secondary offices in Manchester. This includes Deloitte, BNY Mellon, Adidas, BBC, Gazprom, Google, KPMG, Kellogg’s and Siemens.

Media City – the entire centre is one of the largest HDTV programme making facilities in Europe.

Notable organisations that have recently announced they are setting up offices in the area include:

  • The BBC – 3,000 staff are based in Salford’s Media City, with the development also helping to cluster 250 digital companies producing over 7,000 jobs.
  • WeWork – has taken its third space in Manchester City Centre with its only other locations in the UK being London and Edinburgh.
  • Amazon recently announced it is taking 90,000 sq ft office space in Manchester City Centre, creating 600 roles for its first corporate office outside of London. Roles will include software engineering, machine learning and R&D.
  • is taking a 12 year lease on 222,000 sq ft in St John’s quarter and home to 1,500+ staff.  The second largest location for the travel giant outside its Amsterdam HQ.

The rental market closely follows employment levels so strong high-quality employment means a sustained and increasing rental demand. Furthermore, it also contributes to a strong property market in terms of capital growth.

Foreign direct investment

Manchester has been ranked as one of the top cities globally for foreign direct investment and is the top city outside of London in the UK for attracting foreign direct investment. In 2017, the Manchester-Liverpool metropolis foreign direct investment helped create over 7,000 jobs. With billions of pounds being invested into the city and companies such as the above continuing to set up offices in Manchester, this is only set to continue.


Manchester has a young population, with a higher proportion of 15-35 year olds compared to the rest of England, and a modal average age of 25. Manchester has always had a young profile because of the high number of university students (c. 100,000 per year) but importantly the 25-29 age band (the age band immediately post-university) is also growing.

Source – A02_2016_MYErev_report.pdf, page 6, 4.1
Below migration claims also sourced from A02_2016_MYErev_report.pdf, page 4, 3.2

This is because the abundance of high-quality jobs and the overall development of the city has had a two-fold effect. Manchester is now retaining a higher percentage of talent –  previously more graduates from the universities and the local area would move to London in search of job opportunities. With high-quality companies and jobs readily available locally, far more are residing in Manchester indefinitely.

Manchester is also luring younger people from London. With significantly lower living costs (especially property prices) and the availability of high-quality employment, Manchester is increasingly becoming an attractive option for first time buyers, generation rent with high expectations for their resident experience, and young professionals looking to start families away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.


Manchester has plenty to see and has become one of the top destinations to visit in the UK for shopping, entertainment and the arts. The city is of course renowned for its two global football clubs; Manchester United and Manchester City. Both attract a lot of attention and a steady stream of people visiting the City.

Manchester United’s 76,000 capacity stadium “Old Trafford” is one of the largest in the World.

Outside of football there is plenty to see and do in Manchester. The Northern Quarter is known as “the Brooklyn” of Manchester due to its converted brick warehouses and townhouses as well as its collection of “hipster” bars and restaurants. There is also a great speciality coffee and craft beer scene in Manchester made popular by companies such as Seven Brothers Brewery and Foundation Coffee who both have numerous locations dotted around the city.

Beyond the Northern Quarter there are plenty of bars, restaurants & some of the most infamous nightlife to be found in the UK. The Ivy has recently opened their first club outside of London, and popular restaurants include Tattoo, Tast Catala, 20 Stories and Australasia. Music runs through Manchester’s veins having produced bands like Oasis and The Smiths. The MEN Arena regularly hosts some of the biggest artists including musicians such as; Drake, Beyonce and John Mayer as well as comedians such as Michael McIntyre and Ricky Gervais.

Whatever your taste, there really is something for everyone in Manchester.


Manchester’s rise is destined only to continue, and whilst the city has developed significantly over the past 10 years, it is still in the early years of its renaissance. With continued development, we believe Manchester will firmly establish itself as one of Europe’s top city destinations.

By: Shameel Khan
Dot Residential

Dot is the new way to invest in property.

Buy with

Investing in short-term rental investment properties.

Dot comes to Liverpool!

Dot’s Gray Stern to headline at Property Investor Show

Joseph Joseph – a brand of brothers