A Guide to Investing in Student Property in Manchester

Since the BBC moved to Manchester, the Media City has blossomed.

Our latest guide to student property in the UK concentrates on one of the most vibrant cities in the world – Manchester. Here we will be looking at the city’s economy, how it has been transformed over the last decade or so, and what this part of the north west has to look forward to in the future.

Naturally, we will also be exploring just what Manchester has to offer both students and investors, too. We’ll give you the low down on both of the universities that are situated in the city and spell out exactly why we think Manchester is a part of the United Kingdom that warrants closer inspection from anyone looking to enter into the student property market.

Shall we get started?

A quick overview of the city

Situated in North West England, Manchester has been at the forefront of British cultural innovation for many years and is widely regarded as a powerhouse for the arts – especially music and literature. An astonishing 25 Nobel Laureates have either studied or worked at the University of Manchester, too, cementing the city’s contribution to society with subjects as diverse as Sir Arthur Lewis’s groundbreaking research into economic development through to James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron back in 1935.

A guide to Manchester

Image credit: Zuzanna Neziri via Flickr


Once the cotton making capital of the world, Manchester was the world’s first industrial city, earning itself the nicknames ‘Cottonopolis’ and ‘Warehouse City’ during the Victorian era. Like so many other cities and towns across the North of England, the industrial revolution brought great change to Manchester and was the key driver in the city’s expansion, growth and population boom.

The city, along with countless others across the country, fell into decline in the late 60s and throughout the 70s thanks largely to the failing industries that once pushed the city forward. Cotton trading fell dramatically and mills were forced to close, leaving the once thriving economy on its knees. Other changes such as the closure of the city’s port in 1982 and scaling down of Britain’s heavy industry hit Manchester hard, leaving what was once a prosperous community somewhat in the doldrums.

It wasn’t until the late 80s that Manchester began to turn a corner and regeneration projects started to mould the city into what it has become today. The introduction of the Metrolink and sites such as the Manchester Arena and Bridgewater Concert Hall sparked a belief that the city could rise again and become a force to be reckoned with once more.

In 2002, Manchester was the host city for the XVII Commonwealth Games, bringing huge regeneration to the area. Complexes such as The Triangle and The Printworks were renovated as part of the games legacy plans and today they are regarded as some of the best shopping and entertainment districts within the city.

The area’s status was further enhanced when the BBC announced that they would be moving a large part of their organisation away from its traditional London base to the City of Salford, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester. MediaCityUK was born, and the 200-acre mixed-use site has brought jobs, prosperity and pride back to this fascinating part of the United Kingdom.

Manchester’s economy

Manchester was recognised as a beta world city back in 2014 by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. It has now also pipped Birmingham to the distinction of being regarded as England’s second city behind the capital, London. As one would expect from such a prestigious city, Manchester’s economy is strong and is amongst the largest in the country.

As we have already mentioned, Manchester’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the years, but there has never been a better time for the people of the North West, and especially those situated in Europe’s 22nd largest metropolitan area. What was once a hive of industry has become a service led economy with a strong foundation in research as well. This is thanks largely to the knowledge base that has formed around the University of Manchester.

The types of businesses that call modern Manchester home include: legal, financial and business services; digital and creative industries; media; biotechnology; tourism; world renowned sporting brands; environmental technologies; advanced manufacturing and, of course, real estate.

The draw that the city has is made clear by the fact that Manchester is home to nearly half of the top 500 businesses that are situated in North West England, and more and more are joining the fray. Overseas business is well represented too, especially in the financial sector. Of the 60 banks that have active operations in the city, 40 are overseas-owned. The city’s financial and insurance sector alone is worth in excess of £3 billion, making it the UK’s third largest behind London and Edinburgh.

Manchester is home to two of the biggest football clubs.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr


Manchester also attracts more visitors than any other English city apart from the capital, making tourism a significant addition to the local economy. Sport is obviously a huge draw for the city, with the two big clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City, attracting thousands of visitors to the region each and every year.

Local infrastructure

Manchester has one key advantage over all of the other big cities in the North of England, its international links. The city is regarded as the region’s only real international gateway and has recently received accolades such as the Cushman & Wakefield’s top 10 spot for transport links in their 2011 European cities monitor.

Manchester Airport stands behind Heathrow and Gatwick as the United Kingdom’s third largest airport, processing around 20 million passengers each and every year. The airport provides connections to over 200 destinations, which is actually more than any other airport in the country. In fact, according to the global league table, only Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport serves more overseas destinations than Manchester does.

Locally, Manchester is served by all forms of transportation that you would expect from a major city. The city’s rail network handles around 37 million passengers per year via the four main stations, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate. All four stations are set to be linked in an ambitious £560 million rail project dubbed The Northern Hub that is hoped to stimulate further economic growth in both the city and the wider region as a whole.


Work is expected to be completed by 2022 and Manchester Piccadilly is hoped to be connected to London via High Speed 2, the country’s new high-speed railway, by 2033. The new route will also join the capital to Manchester Airport and the journey times between the two cities is expected to be almost halved, taking the current two hours and eight minutes down to one hour and eight minutes.

Manchester also has the country’s largest light rail network in the city. The aforementioned Metrolink has been in operation since 1982 and has an annual ridership of around 31.2 million passengers (2014/15). Work has begun on extending the network further, taking in both Trafford Park and the Trafford Centre.

The city has an extensive bus network as well, with over 50 bus companies operating within the Greater Manchester region. Around 220 million bus journeys are made in and around the city every year, and a 2011 report showed that 80 per cent of all public transport journeys in the area were made by bus.

Urban regeneration

Manchester has been evolving rapidly over the last couple of decades but, as you would expect from a city on the up, it has no plans to rest on its laurels and the area has some impressive regeneration projects in the pipeline. The high rate of growth that the city is currently experiencing means that housing is at a premium, so Manchester City Council have announced ambitious plans that seek to address the widening problem.

The council recently announced a 10-year strategy that will hopefully ensure that 25,000 new homes will be built over the next decade in the city, something that will go a long way to easing the current housing shortage being experienced there. However, 80,000 people moved to Manchester between 2001 and 2011, so the local authority will have its work cut out if the city continues to see growth like that across the strategy’s lifespan.

There are schemes already in the pipeline that are expected to deliver more housing over the next few years, with projects such as Trinity Way, Salford and Tarrif Street, Manchester receiving funding in order to boost the housing market within Greater Manchester.

Since the BBC moved to Manchester, the Media City has blossomed.

Image credit: cellanr via Flickr (cropped)


Of course, regeneration isn’t only about housing, and the city can also boast some impressive new facilities that will hopefully bring as much to the area as previous projects have done such as the Etihad Stadium and MediaCityUK. One such project is Belle Vue Sports Village, which is expected to bring world class sporting facilities to the east of the city, with both indoor and outdoor sports and leisure arenas covering a wide range of activities all on one site.

What makes Manchester worth investing in?

As you can see by what we have already discussed, Manchester is a city that is going places. Overtaking Birmingham as the country’s second city proves the point and the good times look set to continue for this part of the north west. All of the features that have already been highlighted in this guide make the third most populated county in the UK a great place to invest in.

However, another key indicator of a region’s worth is the attention that it garners from those located further afield. Overseas investment is flourishing in Manchester, as many of those who would once only consider London and the south east are now looking north for better yields and value. This is a vote of confidence that any investor would be foolish to ignore.

Manchester is not only attracting money from funds and private investment, big business is getting in on the act, too. Household names such as Google, Cisco, and over 1,500 other foreign owned companies have set up shop in the region, bringing with them jobs and prosperity. Manchester is on sound footing at present, and the increased investment that is going into the region will surely only cement its place in investors’ portfolios as we move towards 2020.

Manchester’s universities

The city has two well regarded universities within its boundaries, offering superb educational facilities to those from the local area and the rest of the world. International student uptake is good – something that will delight those entering the student property market here – and the continued growth of the city is expected to see increased applications across both seats of learning.

Below we take a look at the two universities that those who wish to study in Manchester have available to them:

The University of Manchester

Ranked as 33rd in the world by QS World University Rankings 2015/16, the University of Manchester is widely regarded as one of the finest public research universities around. Just over 38,500 students attend every year and its applicants far outweigh that of any other university in the country with a staggering 6.5 prospective students applying for every place available.

Manchester University is one of the city's two universities.

Image credit: Sam Moorhouse via Flickr


International students make up a huge part of the university’s overall culture. With over 160 countries represented, the University of Manchester offers the ideal base for anyone who is looking to come to the UK to study from overseas. The university has its own Student Immigration Team and they offer support to those who choose Manchester from the moment they first submit their application right through to the day that they graduate.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Initially established in 1970 as Manchester Polytechnic, Manchester Metropolitan University has deep roots in the local community and, in terms of student numbers, it is the fifth largest university in the whole of the United Kingdom. The Complete University Guide placed Manchester Metropolitan University in amongst the top 20 universities in the country and it is also well regarded by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Around 52,000 hopeful applicants submit their applications for just over 31,000 places each year and the university has over 1,000 courses and qualifications available across a broad range of subjects. The university also boasts specialist buildings and facilities, with over £350 million invested in its infrastructure over recent years.

Student life in Manchester

As far as places to study go, Manchester is a fantastic choice. The city has everything that a young person could hope for, and a few things that they probably didn’t even know they wanted, too.

Culturally, Manchester runs London close. The music scene here is still as lively as it ever was and the plethora of venues both big and small will keep music buffs happy regardless of the genres that make them nod their heads. Nightlife, generally, is hard to beat in Manchester, and with 1p entry into Factory 251 on a Thursday, you don’t need to be ‘minted’ to enjoy yourself here either.

The Trafford Centre is Manchester's famous shopping centre.

Image credit: Robert Linsdell via Flickr


However, it’s not just the nightlife that makes Manchester what it is – daytime activities abound, too. Café culture is on the up here and there are plenty of good restaurants offering low cost meals to the city’s student population. Shopaholics are also well catered for, with two major shopping centres – Arndale and the Trafford Centre.

All in all, Manchester is a fine place to be if you are young and want to make the most of city life. It’s little wonder that the universities’ applications always far outstrip the places available in a city like this.

Do you want to know more about Manchester? Check out How Metrolink Is Driving Up Yields In Manchester and 13 Impressive Facts About Manchester You Might Not Know.

Excited about your student property investment journey? Contact us for help, advice and to make a start.