The ultimate urban showdown: Is London or Manchester better?

Torn between London and Manchester? As a proud Londoner, we’ll momentarily set aside our bias and explore the factors that truly matter to you.

If you’re seeking rapid career progression and a bustling, fast-paced lifestyle, London takes the spotlight. On the flip side, if a more relaxed pace and a wallet-friendly cost of living tickle your fancy, Manchester steals the show. 

But how did we reach this verdict? Fear not, for we’re about to dive deep into the nitty-gritty. 

So, let’s unravel the secrets and uncover which metropolis suits you best.

Cost of living in London vs. Manchester

Cost of living in London vs. Manchester
Photo from Unsplash by Igal Ness
The cost of living in London is significantly higher than in Manchester. The average monthly living cost in London is £3,161, while in Manchester, it’s £2,322.
This means that the cost of living in London is 26.5% higher than in Manchester. This is particularly evident in rental and childcare costs.

To determine the average monthly living costs in London and Manchester, we used data from LivingCost.org

The table below presents a comprehensive overview of the expenses associated with residing in these cities, allowing for a more detailed examination of the calculations.

Expenses London Cost Manchester Cost 
Housing (Average Rent per Month) 
1-bedroom apartment  (downtown)£1,557£787
Cheap 1-bedroom apartment£1,132£588
3-bedroom apartment (downtown)£2,880£1,672
Cheap 3-bedroom apartment£1,962£1,019
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill) 
Utility bill for one person £139£127
Utility bill for a family £213£198
Internet plan £27.3£26
Transportation (Fare)
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)£2.51£1.94
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)£119£67.8
Taxi Start (normal tariff)£18.2£12.5
Gasoline (1 litre)£1.66£1.16
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Private Preschool/Kindergarten (full day)£1,488 per month £1,001 per month 
International Primary School £17,374 per year £9,732 per year 

Overall, the cost of living in Manchester is about 28% lower than in London. This is due to several factors, including lower rent prices, lower utility costs, and lower grocery prices. 

However, there are a few reasons why most people might choose to live in London despite the higher cost of living. London is a major financial and cultural centre, and it offers a wide range of job opportunities, for instance.

Real Estate Prices in London vs. Manchester 

Real Estate Prices in London vs. Manchester 
Photo from Build Magazine

London has higher real estate prices compared to Manchester. 
Based on the Housing Market prices of Zoopla, the average price of a single-family home in London is 201.6% more expensive than in Manchester.  Meanwhile, a condo is 57.2% cheaper in Manchester.

When it comes to real estate, Manchester shines with its more affordable prices, giving London a run for its money. 

Just look at the table below to see what we mean. It shows a dramatic contrast in the prices for single-family homes and condos between the two cities.

Property TypeLondon Manchester 
Single-Family Home £1,325,555£441,606
Condo Apartment £489,303£206,119

Diversity and Demographics in London vs. Manchester

Diversity and Demographics in London vs. Manchester
Photo from Unsplash by Clay Banks
While both cities embrace multiculturalism, London shines with a higher proportion of visible minorities. In London, these vibrant communities make up an impressive 46.2% of the total population, while Manchester proudly embraces a diverse blend at 23.6%
Together, these cities paint a vivid picture of inclusivity, showcasing the richness and harmony that arise from embracing different cultures and backgrounds.

London boasts a larger area, a significantly higher population, and a slightly younger median age compared to Manchester. 

These distinctions paint a unique picture of each region’s characteristics, highlighting the diversity and variations within different areas of England.

London Manchester 
Geographic LocationGreater London, EnglandGreater Manchester, England 
Size (Area)1,572 km square kilometres 572 square kilometres 
Population 9,648,0002,791,000
Female Population 50.6 %51.6%
Male Population 49.4%48.4%
Median Age 35.9 years old38.7 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth 82.8 years old 77.15 years old 

Meanwhile, according to data from  World Population Review, there are notable differences in the racial composition between London and Manchester. 

London exhibits greater diversity, with larger Asian and Black populations, while Manchester has a higher proportion of White individuals. 

Racial Composition LondonRacial Composition Manchester 
White53.8%White66.7%
Asian 20.8%Asian17.1%
Black13.5%Black8.6%
Mixed4.6%Mixed4.7%
Arab1.6%Arab1.9%
Other4.7%Other1.2%

Career Opportunities in London vs. Manchester

Career Opportunities in London vs. Manchester
Photo from Unsplash by Saulo Mohana
Sourced data from Statista shows that London offers slightly higher job opportunities than Manchester. This is because the employment rate in London is 76.2%, while in Manchester, it’s 72.4%. 

It is worth considering that the average annual salary in London amounts to £33,825, whereas in Manchester, it stands at £30,090. One contributing factor to London’s higher salary range is the elevated cost of living associated with the city.

Crime and Safety in London vs. Manchester 

Crime and Safety in London vs. Manchester 
Photo from Unsplash by Lacie Slezak
Based on the data from Statista in 2022, it’s safer to live in London than in Manchester. The crime rate in London for this period is at 8.66%, while in Manchester, it’s 12.93%. 
Manchester displays a higher incidence of reported crimes relative to its population size compared to London partly due to variances in socioeconomic conditions, population density, law enforcement measures, and regional dynamics.

When it comes to large cities in the United Kingdom, London stands out as being one of the safest. However, this does not necessarily mean that Manchester is unsafe – it still maintains a moderate crime rate.

CityPopulationCrime totalCrime rate per 100,000 peopleCrime rate (%)
London9,648,000835,8228,6638.66%
Manchester2,791,000361,01812,93512.93%

For a deeper understanding, we have acquired data from Numbeo to demonstrate the perceived relative crime levels between London and Manchester. 

It is worth noting that the information presented below relies on survey data and may fluctuate as more participants contribute over time.

Type of Crime London Manchester 
People using or dealing drugs61.62%71.59%
Property crimes such as vandalism and theft57.48%62.68%
Violent crimes such as assault or armed robbery 56.87%53.86%
Corruption and bribery 38.30%33.56%

Lifestyle in London vs. Manchester 

Lifestyle in London vs. Manchester 
Photo from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez

Both London and Manchester are safe, clean, and multicultural cities with similar weather. Plus, they offer a myriad of fun and historical spots for various recreational activities, making them vibrant and exciting places to live in.

To get a closer look at the type of lifestyle offered in both cities, we compare each city in detail based on several factors, such as the weather, recreational activities, and healthcare.

Weather in London vs. Manchester

Weather in London vs. Manchester
Photo from OnestopBrokers

Both London and Manchester experience short, comfortable, and partly cloudy summers, as well as long, very cold, windy, and mostly cloudy winters.  

Throughout the year, London generally experiences temperatures between 4°C and 23°C , with infrequent instances of temperatures dropping below -1°C or going above 29°C.

On the other hand, Manchester’s temperature typically ranges from 3°C to 21°C, with rare occasions of temperatures falling below -3°C or surpassing 26°C.

Things to do in London vs. Manchester 

Things to do in London vs. Manchester 
Photo from Unsplash by AbsolutVision

Both London and Manchester offer countless opportunities for recreation and leisure activities, with palaces, museums, and sports arenas available.

London boasts a wealth of activities that are unique to the city. Here you can explore the grandeur of Buckingham Palace, admire panoramic views from the London Eye, and Immerse yourself in art and culture at the British Museum.

On the other hand, Manchester offers its distinct attractions. Here you can dive into the music scene at iconic venues like Manchester Arena, plunge yourself into the world of football at Old Trafford, and explore the vibrant Northern Quarter for shopping.

There’s just no doubt that both cities provide a unique set of activities that showcase their individual character and allure.

Healthcare in London vs. Manchester

Healthcare in London vs. Manchester
Photo from Unsplash by Online Marketing

Healthcare services in London and Manchester are both of high quality; however, the latter is widely seen as surpassing the former. According to data from Numbeo, London’s healthcare index is 69.81%, whereas Manchester’s stands at a higher rate of 79.06%.

The table below shows several factors that influence the overall healthcare index in both cities:

London Manchester
Skill and competency of medical staff69%82.59%
Speed in completing examinations and reports65.91%55.84%
Equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment82.34%83.33%
Accuracy and completeness in filling out reports67.75%72.73%
Friendliness and courtesy of the staff72.44%82.41%
Responsiveness (waiting in medical institutions)43.56%60%
Satisfaction with Cost79.02%89.55%
Convenience of location79.30%85.45%

London vs. Manchester: How they stack up

In the end, both cities have pros and cons that could influence your choice. The ideal city to reside in is subjective and will depend on your specific living standards and lifestyle preferences.

To recap, here are our recommendations on which city might be more suitable based on the factors we’ve covered earlier.

Factors The Better City Why 
Cost of Living ManchesterThe living cost in Manchester is 26.5% cheaper than in London.
Real Estate ManchesterThe average prices for real estate properties in Manchester are significantly cheaper.
Diversity and DemographicsLondonBoth cities have relatively high diversity, but overall, the London population has a higher percentage of visible minorities. 
Career Opportunities LondonLondon has a more favourable job landscape and a lower unemployment rate. 
Crime IndexLondonThe crime index in London is lower than in Manchester. 
Lifestyle Tied (depends on what kind of lifestyle you prefer)London and Manchester share the same type of climate. 
Both cities have iconic landmarks that enable you to do various recreational activities. 
On top of this, both Healthcare services in London and Manches are top-notch.
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