Opinion: My response to Total Jobs ‘Rise of the Northern Pound’

Total Jobs recently released a paper entitled ‘The Rise of the Northern Pound’. The report delved into what motivates people to move from London to the north as well as how much bang for our buck we’re getting up North. The main headline was the northern pound goes 20% further than it does in London. As someone who deals with people making this decision every day, I wanted to offer my own insights into what I think motivates candidates to make the move and ditch the rat race.

So, before we do that, what were the headlines from Total Job’s Rise of the Northern Pound? For me, the standout insights included:

  • Commute time is on average 15 minutes shorter (a saving of two and a half hours per week!)
  • The average property prices in the North is a third of that in London
  • Rental costs are roughly half of that in London
  • 1 in 5 Londoners moved North in 2018 compared to 1 in 17 in 2008
  • Over half of Londoners would accept a lower salary if they could move out of the capital and have a better quality of life

All of this seems pretty enticing. According to the report, we’re spending less time commuting and less money on property. And compared to London (amongst the top 20 most expensive cities to live in in the world) it’s pretty obvious that places like Manchester would be cheaper to live.

The cost of renting in Manchester vs London

Let’s look at one of the most important comparisons there is; the cost of buying and renting in Manchester vs London. I’ve carried out my own research to create a more accurate reflection of the costs involved. (Figures from Zoopla and accurate as of April 2019)

City Centre
(Manchester City Centre Vs Camden) ( 1 Bed Flat)

  • Average rent in Manchester city centre: £848
  • Average rent in Camden: £2019
  • Average flat price in Manchester city centre: £184,100
  • Average flat price in Camden: £575,739


(10 miles = Didsbury Vs Streatham Common) (3 Bed House)

  • Average rent in Didsbury: £1169 pcm
  • Average rent in Streatham Common: £3004 pcm
  • Average house price in Didsbury: £364,875
  • Average house price in Streatham Common: £642,428

Having worked in recruitment for many years now, I’ve found that when I’m speaking to candidates the things they really care about include:

  • Being able to save for a house whilst renting (even if you take a 20% pay cut moving from London, you’ll still have the chance to save for a house as shown above, rents are on average at least 50% less)
  • Upgrading their living (getting much more space for their money in the north)
  • Less unpaid overtime (a common problem in agencies)
  • The quality of local schools and the distance to travel to them

I also think the report underestimates the gap in living costs between Manchester and London. I actually think the Northern Pound is even better value for money than the report states. I’ve taken a look at the site Numbeo to generate some stats that I think show the real benefits of swapping Manchester for London:

  • Consumer Prices in Manchester are 21% lower than in London
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Manchester are 30% lower than in London
  • Rent Prices in Manchester are 40% lower than in London
  • Restaurant Prices in Manchester are 61% lower than in London
  • Groceries Prices in Manchester are 76% lower than in London

This is the stuff candidates really care about when they’re looking for work; how much is my day to day living and will I be able to save as well as survive? Add the monetary benefits into the mix with the quality of the work being produced up north (both the BBC and Channel 4 are making The North its home) and there’s a lot more to entice candidates than just lifestyle choices. And with over 400 agencies operating in The North West, the opportunities are almost endless.

Want the inside track on moving from London to Manchester?

Knowing where to find those opportunities, however, can be difficult. With so many factors to consider when moving cities, it’s important your job search is informed by local, expert knowledge. Get in touch with me and I’ll happily advise you on why the North is one of the best places to live and work, so you can reap the benefits of the value of the Northern Pound. Our team has helped dozens of candidates make the move, let’s see if we can help you too. Get in touch on 0161 477 3221.

Phil Cookson


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