Chorlton: We asked residents what it’s like living in Manchester’s most expensive neighbourhood
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Chorlton is one of the most sought-after areas of Manchester. What was once a quiet South Manchester village is now a hive of activity, with bars and restaurants on every street corner. And this demand is reflected in the house prices, now more than ever.
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that three of the top four most expensive neighbourhoods in Manchester are all in Chorlton. The area with the most expensive average house price in 2022 was South Chorlton at £447,525, followed by Beech Road and Chorlton Meadows at £385,000, and Chorlton North at £380,000.
We spent the afternoon in Chorlton to see for ourselves why it’s so special and speak to some of the residents about what it’s really like to live there.
Chorlton is known throughout Greater Manchester for its food and drink scene. Whether it’s after-work drinks or meals out for a special occasion, there is something for all tastes and situations, with a range of cuisines from around the globe.
When we visited on a Thursday afternoon, many of the cafes had people sitting outside of them and some of the most popular spots were on Beech Road, including The Laundrette restaurant and cocktail bar, and the tapas bar San Juan.
There are also plenty of green spaces and nature spots around the area, too. A short walk away from the leafy Beech Road, you can find Chorlton Ees nature reserve, which leads to Sale and Chorlton water parks. There’s also Longford Park and the Beech Road Park.
Jo, who has run an architecture studio on Beech Road for the last four years, says that this is one of the neighbourhood’s biggest attractions.
She said: “It’s quite vibrant, it’s really enclosed, there’s lots of really enjoyable places, like Chorlton Ees, the river, there’s loads of places that are really accessible and really enjoyable green spaces, but also it’s right next to lots of lovely houses, shops and bars. I think it’s the recreational spaces that make it.”
Having worked in Chorlton during the pandemic, Jo also noted the community spirit that exists among residents here. She added: “A lot of stuff happened on the street. It was quite a vibrant time, even though it was very difficult for everyone. Maybe it’s getting back to more how it was before. It felt quite free. Being a trader here, all the businesses here know each other and help each other out.”
Mick, who has lived in Chorlton for 20 years, also thinks it’s the people that make it the place it is, and although there are now more bars here than before, it has not changed the character of the area.
He said: “You get to know a lot of people, it’s all about the people, friends and family who have all settled here. It doesn’t feel like it has changed, but if you look at what it was like at the start. We’ve lost a few shops and now there’s more bars. I think the feel of the place is the same.”
Chorlton’s proximity to the nearby student areas of Withington and Fallowfield also make it popular place, particularly among young professionals, according to Mick. He said that students start living in here while at university and want to stay
There are also practical reasons to want to live in Chorlton. Alex, who has lived in Chorlton for the last three and half years, said: “I think it’s great for lots of different demographics because the schools are good and the facilities are good.
“We’ve got a young family, so we found a house that we liked and knew that the school nearby was a good school and we had friends whose children went to that school. It’s near everything, but it’s not a particularly busy area.
“But, historically, it has always been quite an arty place. Beech Road has a lot of bars and restaurants, there’s a good social life, that’s probably why it attracts so many different people.”
Transport links are also another big selling point for the area. Chorlton sits on several bus routes and it also has a Metrolink station. When we visited, roadworks were taking place throughout the area to improve cycling infratructure.
Caroline, who is in her forties and has lived here her whole life, said that a lot has changed since the tram opened in 2011 – most notably that it has gotten more expensive.
Caroline and her mum Anne, who has lived in Chorlton for around 40 years, both agree that the area has become a very expensive place to live. When asked about what it is like to live here, Anne immediately said: “gentrification.”
She said: “It’s been gentrified. I’ve been here since the seventies and it was just a little village with independent shops, the odd village idiot and other characters. Everybody would queue up on a Monday to get their family allowance, we’d all meet up, the kids all went to the same school. The children were brought up in a community. It was quite safe.
“A lot of people moved out when house prices started going up. It created a bit of a bubble, houses became very expensive. It really was a working class area before. The community has changed. People don’t mix, you don’t see kids playing out on the street.”
She said that children like her daughter Caroline cannot afford to buy houses in the area they grew up in. And if Anne were to move, she would not be able to afford a house in Chorlton. Many of the independent shops, like butchers and greengrocers, have been replaced by bars and restaurants that are also too expensive for some lifelong residents.
Anne added: “There’s just bars and restaurants. They’re nice but we don’t need all of them. It’s expensive. I do like it here, though, I do love living here.”