Manchester is fast becoming a popular relocation destination; 4,000 people left London last year to move here, making it the most popular area for relocation in the North. And, just months ago the city was voted the most livable city in the UK for the second year running in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Livability Survey.
But it's not just the standard of living, social scene, work life balance and cheaper housing that is attracting people to the city. We're fast becoming recognised for something else: our prosperous digital and tech sectors, which employ 63,500 people across the region and this number is growing by the day. Despite this, we still need thousands more digital professionals in place to service the work that is being demanded of the sector. More steps need to be taken to ensure Manchester and the wider North attract enough digital professionals for it to thrive.
This is particularly important as the city continues to attract new household names and build on the success of ones that originate here. Manchester can now count Boohoo.com, Missguided, BBC, ITV, AutoTrader, Co-op, Rentalcars.com, Bet365 and Sainsbury's as either having been founded, or having a sizeable presence here.
#RelocateMCR is a nationwide campaign created with the aim of encouraging more digital and technology professionals to relocate to Manchester. As part of the campaign, hundreds of Manchester-based digital professionals were asked about why they love living and working in the city and the prospects they believe it offers; both personally and professionally.
Manchester was found to be a popular relocation destination, with 80% of the digital professionals working here having moved from another location. When asked about their future plans, four in five people said they intended to stay in Manchester in the mid-term. We also found that those working in the sector believe that Manchester is a good place to do business, with two thirds of people saying the city is a good place for start-ups, and 77% seeing it as a digital hub.
So why do professionals living here believe Manchester is a viable alternative to London? And such an attractive place to live and work? Below were the top reasons said to be keeping those people we spoke to in Manchester:
1. Cost of living: Over half of respondents said the cost of living attracted them to Manchester. With monthly rent on average half the price that it is in London, and public transport significantly cheaper, professionals are seeing the value in settling in a location where their money goes further.
2. More chance of getting on the property ladder: As the average age of getting on the property ladder continues to rise, buying a nice house in a good location continues to be a priority. One in three respondents in our research said a major reason they live in Manchester is because it's easier to get on the property ladder than it is in London.
3. Good transport links: Over one in three research respondents stated that Manchester's good transport links to other cities - including London and other Northern cities including Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield - are a major driver for them living in the city. These links only look set to improve with the development of HS2 and the proposed investment into our trains and roads.
4. Manchester's social scene: Birthplace to arguably some of the most influential bands of the past few decades, a whole host of well-regarded museums and galleries, and two of the best football teams in the world, the city's social scene is another pull for those living here. In fact, half of research respondents said the social scene in the city was what keeps them here.
Considering the above, it's our hope that #RelocateMCR will go some way in demonstrating both the personal and professional benefits of living in the city. While we don't deny the value London will always add to the nation's economy, our campaign has been launched to try and balance the talent pool somewhat, so other regions can start to do the same.
We believe Manchester deserves the best chance possible to fulfil its digital ambitions, but this simply will not be achievable if we don't start attracting more people to the city. And quickly.