Manchester, located in the North West of England, lies within the second most populous urban area in the UK. Situated in the county of Greater Manchester, it houses a population of over 500,000 and is the third most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh. Manchester still competes with Birmingham for the title of the United Kingdom’s second city.
Greater Manchester comprises eight boroughs and two cities, which were subsumed into one large administrative conurbation, the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester. Natives of Greater Manchester are known as Mancunians and its boroughs are all interconnected via the Manchester Orbital Motorway, the M60.
Manchester’s industry was originally built on the textile market, like many other northern cities, and for a time it was the world’s largest marketplace for cotton goods. In fact, in some countries the term "Manchester" is still used to describe items such as sheets and linen - a reference to Manchester's prolific impact within the cotton industry.
As with many industrial cities, World War II had a huge impact on trade and production as resources were redirected to the wartime effort. After seeing a decline in textiles and associated industries, Manchester has been undergoing impressive urban regeneration and is now host to some of the UK’s favorite shopping and entertainment destinations; with the Manchester Arndale being the UK’s largest city center shopping complex.
As previously mentioned, Manchester City forms part of the Greater Manchester conurbation of boroughs and cities. Known as the gateway to the North West, Manchester is the principal city and economic center of the region. It forms part of the M62 industrial belt, which also incorporates Leeds and stretches from Liverpool on the west coast to Hull on the east coast.
In spite of its growing popularity, industry and reputation, Manchester remains a reasonably priced location, something that is reflected across the board, from housing costs to leisure and entertainment; you get much more for your money in Manchester compared to many other UK cities.
Outside of the city center, Manchester is comprised of several distinct residential areas: Trafford, Tameside, Salford, North Manchester and South East Manchester. Popular areas for families include Altrincham and Sale, Didsbury and parts of Stockport.
The housing areas in and around Manchester are of a mixed nature. However, in general, the older properties can be found in the center of the city and in satellite towns, like Altrincham, Stockport and Bury. Most residential areas tend to be outside the city districts, although there are some very exclusive apartment developments within the city center areas of Piccadilly Village and Salford Quays.
Further south on the Cheshire border, the area offers a much more rural feel, with picturesque villages and towns presenting an attractive alternative to the hustle and bustle of the central boroughs of Manchester. These areas are still well served by rail and road links and provide a viable option for those moving into the area and looking to work in the city center.
Manchester has a temperate oceanic climate, like much of the British Isles, with cool winters and mild summers. Manchester has a tendency toward light rains throughout the year and has a relatively high humidity level. Together with a general abundance of soft water, it was this humidity that led to the localization of the textile industry in Manchester.
Snowfall is uncommon in the city, primarily as a result of the urban warming effect. However, to the north and north-east of the city, where the Pennines are located, snowfall can be heavy and cause disruption in the winter months. Manchester’s temperatures on average range from 2°C to 21°C with temperature extremes recorded ranging from -13°C to 34°C.
Due to the centralized location of Manchester, it is offered some shelter from the temperature fronts that hit the coasts of England, meaning most extreme weather has dissipated before it reaches Manchester and its surrounding boroughs.