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Living, Working, and Studying in Manchester, England

A hundred miles can make a huge difference, and although Manchester is relatively close to London, in geographic terms at least, it might as well be a world away in every other respect.

Manchester is a far cry from London’s transience, and for a city of this size—around three million—the sense of community can seem overwhelming at times. “Northern charm” is something that you really can’t explain in words. But experience it and you can’t help but love the place, and the people—this is England, but with a difference.

The idea of studying in London has a broad appeal, but for many students Manchester seems an unnatural choice, simply because they know little about the place. But Manchester Univ. and Metropolitan Univ. are among the best educational establishments in the UK. Manchester Univ. is the home of the computer, and it remains a ground-breaking center for research. It has the U.K.’s largest student population outside of London.

Where to Live

Finding a place to live in Manchester is relatively easy. Students from abroad are guaranteed accommodation by most of the colleges, although this will usually be in Halls of Residence. Most are located in the city center, and the accommodations are modern, clean and cheap, but also basic, often very small, with shared facilities. But, life in halls is like nothing else—the atmosphere is electric, and there are always people around, which can be both comforting and annoying. However, the halls can also be something of a “bubble” which is perhaps the best reason to avoid them. Why study abroad if you’re not going to experience the local way of life?

House-shares are popular in Manchester, and they are also inexpensive and readily available, whether you’re sharing with fellow students or not.

Like most cities, Manchester changes dramatically from area to area. For safety’s sake, it’s these differences that you should be aware of when you look for somewhere to live. Moss Side and Hulme are close to the student village, but they aren’t the safest of areas, despite large-scale redevelopment. Muggings are commonplace, and its not an area you’d want to walk around at night. Elsewhere in the city center, prices are higher, but with the amount you save on travel, it’s worth paying extra. Most accommodations are in small loft-style apartments which are safe and convenient.

If you are determined to venture further afield, the south of the city is undoubtedly the better choice. Although up-market Didsbury may well be out of most student’s price range, Victoria Park is cheap and has a very definite sense of place. Most housing is in Victorian terraced houses, and standards vary greatly. Mancunian landlords aren’t known for their sense of community, so it’s a good idea to distrust anything you’re told. Speak to other students in the area if you can—this is a popular student area—and, if possible, keep to landlords recommended by your college. It’s also worth researching the public transport links—particularly whether there are night-bus links, as the city has few.

Where to Eat

Take-away food is a central part of British student life, and fortunately it’s also very cheap in Manchester. Fish and chips is a local institution, but the city offers an unprecedented choice of international foods, especially Indian—witness the ‘curry mile.’ In London, take-away is often priced out of the reach of students, but here you can expect to get quality food for as little as $3. Most student houses rely on communal cooking, which is a good way to learn something about local ways and fellow students. Local shops can be expensive, and it’s well worth venturing out to the local supermarket—prices can vary as much as 200 percent within a mile.

Although Manchester is possibly the U.K.’s least-expensive city to live and study in, student life can still be tough financially. If your permit allows it, work is plentiful locally, although pay isn’t always that great. Fortunately, there is now a minimum wage, of $6 per hour, although some less-scrupulous employers may try to pay less. But, work is available, particularly in retail and fast-food outlets in the city center, and most employers will work around your study hours. What better way to experience that northern charm, and make your own stay a little more comfortable at the same time.  

Contacts in the City

City guide includes housing, work and shopping;

Local Daily Newspaper, great for jobs and housing;

Manchester City Council;


Univ. of Manchester

Manchester Metropolitan Univ.


Univ. of Manchester and UMIST, 011-44-161-2752888;

Metropolitan Univ., 011-44-161-275-7680;

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