Hi Robert, welcome to Manchester! Manchester is the UK's second city so home to several million people and as it is a big sprawling centre it's difficult to know where to start.
Greater Manchester is made up of the city of Manchester, the city of Salford plus all of the Greater Manchester towns which surround it. Most people from those towns will call themselves Mancunians too even though they don't live in the city centre. These towns and suburbs also have great pubs, events, art and theatre too so there's lots of choice across the city.
Here's my take on Manchester as someone who grew up here, has lived in other places and then came back.
They are friendly, fun and frank and proud of their northern heritage. It was as you may know the first industrialised city in the world and the site of the first railway station. The major societal changes this industrialisation produced was studied by Karl Marx and Engels and helped to spearhead the union movement in the UK and the creation of the Labour party. It is definitely still a left leaning city.
It is also a very diverse place with a mixture of everyone from every corner of the globe and 99% of people get along with each very well. As a northern English city you will hear people say that people are friendlier in the north and that is certainly true, expect random but friendly conversations on the bus, the tram or when you are just buying a coffee.
It has a big gay village, frequented by many hen and stag parties visiting the city and every year holds a huge gay pride festival as well.
There's a jazz festival every year and an arts festival every 2 years which showcases new works which are often amazing and thought provoking.
The German food markets turn up every Christmas so if you like watered down mulled wine and over chewy frankfurters you will feel right at home.
It is home to 3 universities including the world leading Manchester University where the atom was first split and where graphene was 'invented'. The 25-30000 students in the city add to the buzz too.
There's a lot to do and to get involved with. It has a big art, music, cafe, theatre and alternative arts scene. Music is a big part of the city's history and a big part of nights out and there's always some pop diva playing in the city. However there are still plenty of great small venues playing good live music.
There is your usual mix of traditional English boozers, fine wine bars, student pubs and everything in-between.
You can eat any type of cuisine from anywhere in the world and most of it is really very good. The good restaurants are not just confined to the city centre but appear in the suburbs as well as. It also has a great cafe culture with many unique coffee houses to work in, hang out, meet friends or just...get a coffee!
Traditional fare is easy to find too, proper fish and chips, black pudding and chips and curry sauce....yum. What's that..? Not your cuppa tea, don't worry there are plenty of high end eateries to choose from.
Only 15 years ago very few people lived in the city centre but now there are thousands and lots of accommodation choice from bijou flats to multi million pound penthouses. If you move out to the suburbs you have more choice, more land and will be nearer or even next door to the countryside and still be only a 20 minute tram ride into town. Manchester houses/flats are around 30%-40% cheaper to buy than London and the quality of life is better.
You will be less than 30 minutes away from some of the UKs most beautiful national parks such as the Peak District, which is truly gorgeous and the Lake District which is a little further away. Although the city centre is quite built up, green fields, parks and luscious countryside are not that far away.
Home to Manchester United, Manchester City and the National Velodrome. None of which is of any interest to me but of great interest to thousands of other people! The city is always holding running events in the city which I have to say are a bit annoying with all the road closures but ho hum But there is loads to do all round the city, hiking, fishing, mountaineering (it's close to Wales and the Peak District), running clubs, cycling and so on.
Public transport is good, there is an extensive tram system, buses and trains. You can get to London from Manchester in 2 hours. You can use a car but rush hour traffic is pretty dire. If you live and work in the city centre it is a people sized city so getting around by foot or by bike is easy enough.
Cost of Living
Much much cheaper than London although generally in the UK the cost of everything is going up a little post Brexit.
The Bad Bits
There's not much really to write about, crime levels are on a par with the rest of the UK's big cities but nothing to concern yourself over. The traffic in the morning could be better and if only it stopped raining once in a while! Having said that we had a good summer this year with weeks without any rain...a miracle.
Some people come to visit and are not taken with it's post industrial visage with it's big stone and ironwork arches, 200 year old Dickensian brick buildings reworked into posh flats. Many very old cotton mills are still used in the north of the City although it has its fair share of shiny glass and steel new buildings too.
I honestly can't think of anything else, come for a visit and see what you think!