Manchester - UK's Second City

Manchester in 1800 was a town covered by a canopy of smoke pouring from tall chimneys. Fifty steam-powered cotton mills dominated the skyline. They were the skyscrapers of their day. The town that people nicknamed Cottonopolis was taking shape. Two hundred years later, no working mills remain. A new skyline has emerged. Today, Manchester is still a city shaped by the cotton industry. Converted mills and warehouses have found new life as offices, hotels and flats, alongside new high-rise buildings.

Manchester is the second most popular location in the UK for direct international investment, due to various factors including being an education hub with a myriad of secondary and tertiary options, containing a strong youth labor force, having a high concentration of population (approx 50%) located in the vicinity of the CBD, and developing regeneration projects such as MediaCityUK and Spinningfields. In the coming years, corporations such as BBC, ITV, HSBC, Barclays, and other international conglomerates will be moving in to Manchester – which will consequently drive up the property sale and rental prices.


  • Manchester has 4 universities and over 14 colleges with student population exceeding 350,000 making it the third largest student population in Europe
  • 80 of the FTSE100 companies are represented in the region. 600 international companies are resident in Manchester
  • Manchester is 3rd most-visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh
  • Manchester’s population growth of 51% from year 2001-2011 is the largest in the country, well ahead of London’s 15%


Manchester is the UK’s top buy-to-let hotspot, according to research carried out by HSBC in 2015, which found the city to offer the best rental returns. Manchester has one of the largest student populations in Europe; demand for rental accommodation is strong and by comparison with other regions where housing is cheaper. The city offers an average rental yield of 7.98% p.a.

Above: Manchester offers an average rental yield of 7.98% p.a.

Above: Manchester property price increased 18% in year 2014, making it the top best performer in England, ahead of London


Spinningfields is dominated by commercial office developments and has been described as the “Canary Wharf” of the North. London has Canary Wharf and Paris has La Défense, Manchester has its own modern financial centre in the form of Spinningfields. The £1.5bn Spinningfields project is already home to a clutch of leading professional firms, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Deloitte, Grant Thornton and Halliwells.


MediaCityUK, a £650 million regeneration project, is a new waterfront destination for Manchester, with digital creativity, learning and leisure at its heart. The first phase, spread over 36 acres, was completed in 2011 but there is the potential to use up to 200 acres of land over the next decade. Centred around a waterfront public realm area twice the size of London’s Trafalgar Square, MediaCityUK is a destination in its own right, complete with bars, cafés and restaurants. The development’s piazza has been designed to accommodate over 5,000 people, making it a natural focal point both day and night. In 2011 the BBC moved around 3000 of their employees from London to MediaCityUK.

Above: BBC moved its head office to MediaCityUK in year 2011


A total £1.5bn will be invested in the Metrolink network. This includes current works at the Deansgate-Castlefield stop, upcoming works at the St Peter’s Square stop, and the Second City Crossing (2CC) tramline being built through the city centre.

Above: Manchester Current Metrolink Network

Above: Manchester Future Metrolink 2030


The government plans a new high-speed rail network, from London to Birmingham and to Manchester and Leeds, known as HS2. The initial plan is for a new railway line between London and the West Midlands carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains with up to 1,100 seats per train. They would operate at speeds of up to 250mph, faster than any current operating speed in Europe, and would travel up to 14 times per hour in each direction.


Manchester is to get a dramatic £1bn transformation. Said to be the biggest single construction project ever to take place in Greater Manchester, the 10-year scheme will more than double the size of Terminal Two and link it to an improved Terminal Three.