The UK has made it possible for Hongkongers with British National (Overseas) passports to move to the country, with more than 2.9 million people eligible to apply. The Home Office has even confirmed
that there will be no income tests during the five-year stay required to apply for permanent citizenship, making this the ideal time to consider moving to the UK.
So, as more and more Hongkongers take advantage of the new BNO citizenship offer, the only question is: Where in the UK should you live?
In the past, many would have considered London as the best option. However, in recent years Manchester has proven itself as the UK’s best city to live. Here are just some of the reasons why…
Low cost of living
Hong Kong is a famously expensive place to live – the cost of living is the highest in Asia and the 10th highest in the world, according to TransferWise.
In comparison, the cost of living in Manchester is lower and more accessible. By moving to Manchester, you can make significant savings on food (17%), property (57%), clothing (9%) and entertainment (22%), all while still enjoying a world-class lifestyle.
Manchester is home to some of the best universities in the United Kingdom, many of which are already popular destinations for students from Hong Kong.
The University of Manchester is ranked 27th in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2021 – equal with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and only a few places below the University of Hong Kong – meaning that students can be assured of maintaining a high quality education by moving to Manchester.
Primary and Secondary education is also excellent in Manchester, with a range of state and private schools available which perform highly and give your child a superb education for the future. Manchester High School for Girls, St. Bede’s College and the New Islington Free School are all outstanding examples of the high quality educational institutions to be found in Manchester.
Whether you are renting or buying, housing costs in Hong Kong are sky high due to its overcrowded nature. A huge portion of your income is likely to be spent on housing. In comparison, you can save 57% on housing costs by moving to Manchester, as mentioned above.
Manchester city centre in particular has some stunning luxury properties which are close to every amenity and transport option you could need. What’s more, significant property price growth is anticipated in the next five years, making this the ideal time to buy in Manchester and enjoy huge profits in the near future.
As well as low housing costs, Manchester also provides world-class job opportunities. As the centre of the Northern Powerhouse – and the capital of the North of England – the city is a magnet for businesses from around the world.
The highly skilled workforce and favourable business conditions have convinced major companies like Amazon, BT, Google, Microsoft, KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and more to choose Manchester as the site of major offices. The Bank of China and HSBC also have large operations in the city.
There are not many cities as connected to the rest of the world as Manchester. Manchester Airport is the UK’s only twin-runway airport outside of London and enables passengers to fly to more than 200 destinations as far afield as San Francisco, Mumbai, Beijing and, of course, Hong Kong itself.
Furthermore, the HS2 high speed railway is under construction and will halve journey times to London and Birmingham – the UK’s other major economic centres. Within Manchester, you can make use of the outstanding Metrolink tram system which provides convenient and cheap transport around the city.
Sporting capital of the UK
Manchester’s sporting heritage needs no introduction. Manchester City and Manchester United are international football giants known around the world. By moving to Manchester, you will be able to watch some of the best football in the world every weekend.
What’s more, Manchester is also home to the National Cycling Centre, the National Squash Centre and the Emirates Cricket Ground, and has easily accessible facilities for all kinds of other sports including tennis, athletics and rugby.
Restaurants and shops
Manchester is packed full of high end restaurant’s, bars and shops for you to enjoy. Michelin star-winner Mana is located in the trendy Ancoats district, and other superb spots can be found through the city including Tast Cuina Catala – owned by 5-Michelin-Star chef Paco Pérez – San Carlo, Australasia, Tattu, Adam Reid at The French, The Ivy and 20 Stories.
Selfridges can be found on Exchange Square – just next to the Arndale Shopping Centre – and the adjacent New Cathedral Street is home to high end brands including Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Harvey Nichols and Michael Kors. Elsewhere in the city centre you can find similarly impressive brands including Mulberry, Breitling, Swarovski, and much more.
Arts and culture
Finally, Manchester has one of the UK’s most impressive arts and culture scenes. This is a city which has everything from huge, headline music events at Manchester Arena to independent productions at the Hope Mill Theatre; Renaissance masterpieces can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery, before you take a short walk to the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art to see the latest art from across the Far East.
The Peak District
And what if you want to escape the city for a weekend? Manchester is minutes from the Peak District, one of the UK’s most popular and attractive national parks. Countryside walks, scenic bike rides, mountains to hike up and trails to follow are all just a short car or train journey away. Perfect for a long weekend camping with the family or a day trip - similarly to the relationship between Hong Kong and Sai Kung or Lantau.
If you want to go a little further afield, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Forest of Bowland and Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty are all within driving distance.