We asked graduates why they chose Manchester instead of London

Charlie Benson
Content Marketing Executive

Around a quarter of new grads move to London each year within six months of finishing university. 

The capital attracts such a disproportionate amount of graduates each year due to its promise of job opportunities and career progression, but if you're soon to leave your uni city - don't make the move there just because everyone else is. There is a lot going on in the North West, especially Manchester. 

We spoke to graduates from universities across the UK - from Durham and York, to Kent and Bangor, to find out why they chose to relocate to Manchester after uni. And, for current students and recent graduates considering the move, would they recommend it? 



Manchester city centre


Here are 5 reasons why Manchester could be the perfect place for you to start your graduate life. 


1. There are plenty of graduate jobs in Manchester - especially if you want to do something creative. 

A 2016 report found that, whilst over 24% of grads moved to London after uni - only 19% of British jobs were located in the capital. Competition there is intense; it's worth looking across the UK for openings if you're just starting out.

When we asked graduates why they chose Manchester over London, they were all quick to point out there are a lot of job opportunities in Manchester - as Jamie, who grew up in North Wales, said: "it's got everything London has without the hustle and bustle". 

Helen, who is from the South East and then went to Durham University, said, when she was growing up, she often felt she had to move to the capital after graduation. "We were always told to move to London, because that's where the careers are and I've learnt by moving [to Manchester] that that's not the case - it's a lot smaller, but there's still loads going on," she explained. 

Sean moved to Manchester after completing his degree at Bangor University and says he would especially recommend the city to anyone looking for a creative job. "Manchester's edginess reflects in the companies that start-up here," he said, "You've got UNILAD, LADbible, Social Chain and similar companies that all started here in Manchester, and they offer a lot of creative, cool jobs for young writers, video editors, graphic designers". 

And if you want to work for a big, household name, don't assume those brands only operate in London, Nathan said. He relocated to Manchester after leaving the University of Kent and said he thinks "people should be really aware and open" to all the opportunities Manchester has to offer. 

"You have Media City and there's huge institutions there, but even hidden behind the red brick buildings in the Northern Quarter, there are enormous brands hiding behind them."



2. It's affordable to live in the centre of the city, in good accommodation. 

Landing a graduate job in London is exciting, but, unless you're working far out of central or getting paid a significant amount, it's unlikely you'll be able to live near the office. Many of the graduates we spoke to live within walking distance of their work, and it's something they really value about graduate life in Manchester. 

Sally commuted into the city from her parents' house in Stockport throughout her three-month graduate internship in Manchester and, once she was offered a full-time job with the company, moved into a flat round the corner from her work. Her advice to anyone considering moving to Manchester would be: "try and live in the city if you can, because it's not like London where living in the city, or close to the centre, is ridiculously expensive."

"You can find reasonably-priced, good accommodation if you look hard enough," she continued, "and I think it's worth it, because it's so much easier to enjoy the city if you're actually living in it."

Nathan also talked about the freedom and flexibility that comes with being able to afford to live just "a ten minute walk from work".

"It couldn't really be more ideal," he said. 



3. And, working here, you won't have to spend loads of time on public transport. 

The average Londoner spends 75 minutes commuting each day. So, if work-life balance is a big priority for you, it might be worth considering moving somewhere like Manchester, where you can easily navigate the city, and your route to work, on foot. 

Katie, who moved to Manchester after graduating from the University of York, said her favourite thing about the city is "that you can travel everywhere without public transport."

She continued, "you can walk from one side of the city to the other, which is brilliant." 

This difference between graduate life in Manchester and graduate life in London has been particularly marked for Nathan since he moved here, as he has a twin brother who moved to London and has been able to see the contrast in their experiences. 

"I've seen the long commutes he makes, I've seen the rent he pays," Nathan said. As a result, he "can really appreciate that, in Manchester, everything is walking distance and everything is affordable." 



4. There's a buzzing alternative scene. 

When we asked Sally her favourite thing about Manchester, she said it's that it's "such an exciting city" that is "a little bit like London, but a bit cooler". 

Sean agreed, saying Manchester generally is "quite alternative, it's quite edgy". He added, "it's got a huge gay scene as well, which is cool." One of his favourite locations in Manchester, he said, is the Northern Quarter - where there's always live music, events and exciting new bars popping up. 

Katie's advice for someone moving to Manchester would be to get involved, because "there's so much to do" - whether it's a show or event, she said, you'll find always be able to find something advertised that appeals to you. 



Manchester's Northern Quarter 


5. And, ultimately, it's easy to get stuck in and find your place here. 

The majority of the graduates we spoke to moved to Manchester from locations across the UK and all described it as a really welcoming place. Bogdan, who moved to the UK from Romania and started his graduate career in Manchester said he loves that it's "a very multicultural city". His advice to new graduates would be "don't be afraid to move to Manchester. I moved here from abroad and, even though the experience should be quite daunting, I've found it very comfortable and I managed to fit in quite well." 

"I think the city is friendly," he continued, "and gives everyone an opportunity - whether to start their career or to continue it." 

The overwhelming piece of advice that came up across everyone we interviewed was: move to Manchester, get involved and you'll easily find your place. 

Nick moved to Manchester from Reading and didn't know anyone in the city, but got involved in sports teams and met his current housemate "through a speed dating for potential housemates event". He said, even if you don't know anyone in Manchester, "don't be afraid to come alone."

"It is chaotic here in the best possible way, so embrace the chaos," he advised. "Make the move, throw yourself at it - you'll get everything you need out of it and you'll love it."