After years of Altrincham dominating the Sunday Times ‘Best Places To Live’ guide for the North West, it seems the rest of our wonderful city-region is finally getting a look in. Stealing the top spot from the upmarket Trafford town, Ancoats has officially snatched the crown for ‘best place to live in Manchester’, following a surge in popularity over the last five years.
Now, of course, we locals already knew of the magnetic pull the newly-gentrified city centre ‘burb had on the ‘cool crowd’ so The Times is a little late to the party, but as Ancoats-dwellers ourselves, we’re feeling pretty smug to see the rest of the nation only now jump on the hype.
Home to the likes of Rudy’s (the original one, may we add), Seven Bro7hers, The Jane Eyre and Elnecot – among many more of Manchester’s very best hospitality businesses – apartment buildings have been popping up left, right and centre over the past half a decade, with young professionals snapping up apartments before even seeing them in a bid to get a slice of the pie. The ‘pie’ being this wonderful sense of community, so self-sufficient with its own identity that residents don’t ever need to ‘pop into town’ for anything if they don’t want to. A ‘pie’ that we’ve considered the best of Manchester long before The Times paid attention.
“At the heart of the action is Ancoats, a mix of historical mills and warehouses and hundreds of modern new-build blocks, which set the benchmark for hip, urban living”, The Times analysis of the area begins. “Cutting Room Square has been named one of the “coolest streets in the world” by Time Out, and is also close to the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Simon Martin’s Mana, and St Peter’s Church, home of the Hallé orchestra.
“Not too far away there’s the Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth and the John Rylands Research Institute and Library. At the popular Home on Tony Wilson Place you’ll find the new site of the Cornerhouse cinema and the Library Theatre, plus restaurants and bars”, the newspaper summarises.
Now, of course, we know that none of these ‘highlights’ are actually in Ancoats or representative of the area, but it does stand for showcasing the convenient location that melts into Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter.
Next on the list representing Manchester’s outer suburbs is Sale, another of the city-region’s fastest-developing areas – a status cemented with its very own Rudy’s Pizzeria, which these days is a stamp of approval in itself. According to The Times, Sale’s success lies in its ‘imitation’ of neighbouring Altrincham, citing its ‘buzzing cafe scene’ and multiple tram strops as the up-and-coming area’s highlights.
Stockport was also doing it for South Greater Manchester, recognised for its recent ‘reinvention’ from a ‘standard former mill town’ to ‘a funky, family-friendly alternative to Manchester’s Northern Quarter’. According to the journalist who wrote the piece, this is the place where millennials move when they want to start a family, but still brunch on avocado.
The Times conducts research across the UK every single year for the huge guide, turning to data about schools, quality of transport, Wi-fi speeds and house prices to help make their decisions. Maybe next year North Manchester will get the appreciation it deserves, too.