Why Manchester is better than London
It’s funner, cooler and half the price
It’s a no-brainer, Manchester is just better than London.
It’s cheap, the people are friendly and the nightlife is insane. The best bars and clubs are never too busy to get into, the vintage shops aren’t insanely overpriced and people even dress better. It’s got everything London has and more.
Every penny counts
Manchester is on average 40 per cent cheaper than London. As a result, you can live somewhere larger for less; you can drink in better bars, and eat in better restaurants. Food is cheaper and transport is cheaper. You can even get your nails done for less than a tenner, which is unheard of down south. NB if you want to fit in with Mancunian babes, you should probably get them done.
Northern lights versus Shoreditch nights
The Northern Quarter is lined with independent shops and bars, vintage emporiums, Instagrammable food and impressive street art, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than east London. Shoreditch has a catalogue of overpriced vintage shops, but they cannot touch the second-hand scene in the NQ. Afflecks Palace has four floors of the stuff.
As a day in the Northern Quarter transitions into evening, you can stay put: bars including Soup Kitchen, Kosmonaut or Matt and Phred’s offer live music every night of the week, and stay north the next morning with a hangover breakfast at Teacup Kitchen, which dishes up eggs, tea and cakes.
Manchester (s)miles better
It is broadly accepted that the further north you travel, the more friendly the people. It is infectious – and suddenly, you – usually a monosyllabic London misanthrope – are saying thank you to the bus driver, smiling at people on the street, and making conversation with an old man in the queue. Whether they are locals or not, people up north tend to be more laidback.
The usual gripes don’t apply: it’s always raining, so Mancunians don’t moan about the weather. On the other hand when the sun comes out, we are not cynical – we’ll stick on a summer dress and flip flops, even on a lukewarm March anomaly.
You’ll be best mates with your local takeaway owner
Paz will make you feel like the only woman in his world. In London, your takeaway man just hopes you don’t get food poisoning and condemn him on TripAdvisor. Kebab King in Fallowfield is the best part of a night out, and the staff are so friendly that they actually take pictures of you that broadcast on a big screen and then up on Facey (tag your friends). And the veggie cafe in Withington does amazing Halloumi fish-fingers and falafel burgers – it’s comfort food without the meat.
Manchester gets three times less arts and culture funding than the capital, but the art scene is huge. So many notable artists and academics came from Manchester: Norman Foster, Carol Ann Duffy, Elizabeth Gaskell, Daniel Craig. The city has the Lowry, its own Imperial War Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, the Museum of Science & Industry, the John Rylands Library, the People’s History Museum and the Manchester Museum. There are always pop-up exhibitions across the city, often in independent galleries including the Kraak Gallery, Islington Mill and Paper Gallery.
Our street art is fire too
Style and substance(s)
Manchester people have fun. It’s easier and cheaper than it is to go out than it is in London, and people really make the effort. Manchester style is better than London’s: it feels effortless and more interesting. You’ll rarely see the Topshop identikit army, because more people shop in charity shops (or play muse to up-and-coming fashion designer mates). Their hair will be artfully scruffy, and tucked into an oversized coat; their limited edition trainers will be grubby from the night before.
At the other end of the spectrum there’s the glam Mancunian girls playing with long tousled hair, flashing manicured nails, and wearing outfits as stylised as their HD brows. The overall impression is rather mesmerising; you must applaud them the effort.
Manchester has the Northern Quarter for edge, Piccadilly and Trafford for shopping, Spinningfields and Deansgate for something a bit fancier, Chinatown and Curry Mile, and Didsbury and Withington if you seek something quieter. It has almost as many jobs as London, and incidentally, many large companies also have a Manchester presence: the BBC has a base in Media City. However, it is far less overwhelming: it’s compact and you won’t spend the first three months there bursting into pointless, furious tears when you can’t work out the alphabetical bus stop system.
Friday Food Fight is the one
This is a weekly warehouse party hosting food vendors, live DJs and loads of booze. It’s a brilliant option for after work drinks or as preparation for a nearby house party (and they’re always nearby). It’s sufficiently quiet that you won’t spend hours nodding to suggest you heard what someone said (you didn’t); it’s loud enough to get up and dance if you get bored of listening to people. You won’t find anything this good in London at this price.
Brick Lane? It’s not a patch on Manchester’s Curry Mile. This is a huge stretch dedicated to Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Indian food, and also lined with shisha bars and cheap food markets. Everyone’s favourite place is Mughli – it’s known nationwide for its amazing food and Jared Leto has even been there. But we also have a soft spot for Sanam, Punjab Tandoori and MyLahore.
We own the night
People travel across the country for nights out in Manchester: our nightlife is better than London’s, but tickets are cheaper and everywhere is easier to get into. There are genres to please everyone: Deansgate has the high-end bars and clubs, Tiger Tiger and Factory are crowd-pleasers. Big artists play at Warehouse Project or Soup Kitchen to see big actss, and Canal Street has some of the best gay clubs in the UK. And northern girls love cocktails, so Manchester is well-catered: Australasia is the best restaurant in the world and the cocktails are amazing, everyone goes to Alchemist for their birthday and Cloud 93 is a million times better than the Shard – a cocktail bar at the top of a huge building, with a glass hole in the floor so you can peer down to the very bottom.
Our music scene is huge
The music scene is incredible too, it’s one of the top places for huge old and new acts to play. We spawned legends including The Stone Roses, The Smiths, Oasis, New Order, Joy Division, Tony Wilson, and Peter Hook from the Hacienda days. EatsEverything and Elbow are Mancunian too. And the list grows by the day.
The Warehouse Project
The Warehouse Project warrants its own section: the night is a veritable national treasure that represents the zenity of UK clubbing. It sells out and breaks records every year: the venue is amazing and the acts are amazing.
Safe as houses
Whether you’re a student or a local, there are after-party options when you finish up in town. Everything’s so close you’ll likely hear (about) it, and can get a bus or taxi there in under ten minutes if you can’t be bothered to walk. Plus everyone here is, or thinks they are, a DJ so you’ll never be listening to your Spotify playlist on repeat.
Leaving on your holidays
Heaven forbid you wanted to leave – though if you do, you can travel almost anywhere in the world from Manchester. The city has multiple train stations, and a large international area. Our position in the middle of the UK makes it a useful starting point to go north or south; it’s just as easy to get to Glasgow than it is to London, we’re a short drive from Yorkshire and Wales and if we wanted to get to Cornwall we could get a flight there in under two hours.
And you can actually breathe on public transport
Sure, public transport isn’t the most exciting thing about Manchester but it shits all over the tube. Unlike in London, you won’t wait for hours in traffic and you can hop on and off at any time of day without having to elbow your way on. It only costs £1 to get on a Magic Bus which will take you almost everywhere you need to go, and you’ll never wait more than two minutes.
Manchester is a big city, but if you scan the view from the higher buildings you see it’s bordered by countryside: drive for less than an hour and get to the Pennines, the Peak District or the Chesire Plains. After an hour driving out of London, you’ll still be stuck on an M25 ring road.
What gender gap?
On average in the UK, women earn 17.7 per cent less than men. In Manchester that statistic is at 9.6 per cent.
Chips and gravy
Snobby Londoners delight in the finer things in life – and therefore miss its sweetest pleasures.