Welcome to the Queen City! Manchester is the matriarch of New Hampshire, a state that takes its slogan ‘Live Free or Die’ to heart. Manchester is known for its livability and affordability – you won’t be paying state income tax or city sales tax, and its economy is strong. The city is also proximate to a wide variety of outdoor recreation. For less than a half tank of gas and you can hike the White Mountains, laze around at Hampton Beach, take a steamship cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, or explore New Hampshire’s beautiful back roads and charming towns. New England’s largest city, Boston, is less than 60 miles away and a popular commute for Manchester residents.
The city itself boasts great restaurants, a major concert venue, and two local professional sports teams. With a population of just over 112,500, it has a small-town feel. Recently updated cotton mill buildings dating back to the early 1800s span the banks of the Merrimack River, which splits the city in two. You’ll find plenty of retail establishments, including the Mall of NH, to satisfy any shopping need you could want. Keep reading for all the info you need on Manchester – and then contact us here at Great Guys Moving so we can help coordinate everything you need for a stress-free move. You can also check out a ranked list of the best moving companies in Manchester to help you decide on a professional mover.
Living in Manchester, NH: What to Know Before Moving to Manchester
With a population of just over 112,525, Manchester is the largest New England city north of Boston. It’s about halfway between Nashua, the second-largest city and the retail capital of the state, and Concord, the state capital. While it once had a rough reputation, over the past ten years it has gone through its a significant renaissance. Historic textile mill buildings have been renovated to house tech companies and luxury residential lofts and condos. Restaurants have moved in due to the influx of money from events at the Southern NH Arena and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. You’ll find that Manchester does have something for everyone!
Pros and Cons of Living in Manchester
Every city has its ups and downs, and Manchester is no different. Make sure to do your research and learn both sides of the story. We’ve listed some of the most relevant pros and cons below to get you started.
- Outdoor recreation – Manchester is within a short drive to the beach, the mountains, or the lakes region. With all those options, you’ll never run out of things to do.
- Taxes – Enjoy the benefits of having no state income tax nor city sales tax.
- Location – It’s only 50 miles north of Boston.
- Colleges – There are more than ten within the city limits.
- Politics – Since NH holds the nation’s first primary, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet with presidential candidates, attend town hall events, and be the center of national attention every four years.
- Winter – Brrrr. Winters are cold and snowy. Manchester gets an average of over 60 inches of snow each year.
- Lack of diversity – While Manchester is more diverse than other NH cities, it’s still over 85% white. There isn’t much in the way of ethnic shops, restaurants, or festivals.
- Property Taxes – It’s true that not having income or sales tax is great, but NH property taxes are notoriously high.
- Transportation – You’ll need a car. Most amenities are readily accessible, but you’ll need to drive to get there. Public transportation is limited to buses.
- Opioid Crisis – NH is among the top five states in the country hit hardest by the opioid crisis. Manchester has invested a lot of money in services designed to help those in need, but it’s something of which you should be aware.
The good news is, you don’t have to worry about state income tax or city sales tax if you move to Manchester. The bad news is, you’ll find Property Taxes high compared to the rest of the country. Property taxes, on a home worth the median value of $241,600, will cost you $5,327.00 a year. That’s twice as high as the national average of $2,926.00.
According to Zillow, the Manchester housing market is pretty hot right now (summer 2019). Home appreciation has increased by 20% over the past ten years and 3.3% over the past year. The median list price for a home is $250,000. If you’re looking to rent, expect to pay about $1,077 for a 1-bedroom and $1,368 for a 2-bedroom apartment. Renters make up approximately 47% of the population. Housing in some neighborhoods is less expensive than others, but in general, the closer you are to the center of the city the less expensive housing seems to be.
Cost of Living
Manchester’s cost of living is higher than the national average, according to BestPlaces.net, which ranks cost of living based on an average scale of 100. A cost of living number below 100 indicates a cost is cheaper than the national average, while a number greater than 100 means it is more expensive. Manchester’s cost of living is 113.2. Grocery bills, housing, and utilities will cost more. But, healthcare and transportation costs are slightly below average.
The average family of four can expect to spend about $83,721 a year on food, housing, childcare, transportation, and other expenses. The median household income is just over $56,467.
Weather & Natural Disasters
You can expect Manchester to very long cold winters and hot, humid summers. The hottest months of the year are typically July and August, where the highs are around 82F and lows hover around 60F. However, heatwaves in the upper 90s can happen several times a year. The coldest months are January and February, with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens. You’ll see an average rainfall of almost 42 inches, with the most falling in June and October. Snowfall rates run around 60 inches per year, with most of that falling between January and March.
Large natural disasters are rare in Manchester, but you can expect ‘State of Emergencies’ a few times a year, mostly due to storms known as Nor’easters. Nor’easters can contain powerful winds and dump large amounts of both rain and snow. It’s not unusual for a Nor’easter to dump one to two feet of snow in 24 hours, and two to four inches of rain. Click here for information on Disaster Preparedness in the Manchester area.
Economy & Job Market
Manchester’s economy revolves mainly around the healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and education sectors. The largest employers in the city are Elliot Hospital with 3,800 employees and Southern NH University with 3,200 employees. The unemployment rate is 2.7%, which is below the national average of 3.9%. Recent job growth is on par with the US average of 1.6% growth.
The most common jobs are office and administrative support, sales and related, management, food preparation and service-related, and production occupations. If you are looking for work, be sure to get an idea of the jobs that are currently available on indeed.com, simplyhired.com, careerbuilder.com, snagajob.com, and many other websites. The City of Manchester Human Resources Department posts employment opportunities in technology, public service, the sciences, construction, and more. Update your resume and hone your interview skills.
Traffic and Transportation
The Everett Turnpike parallels I-3; these roadways run north-south through Manchester, and you can take either highway south to Nashua, or north to Concord. US-101 is the main east/west route through the city, but it’s a regional road, shifting between two and four lanes depending on where you are.
Within 40 miles of the city center, traffic is usually moderate during commuting times, but if your commute leads you down to Boston that’s a different story. Typical Manchester to Boston commute times during rush hour can run you 90+ minutes depending on the time of day. You also should be aware of traffic on weekends during the summer and holiday times. Tourists coming home from the White Mountains or the Lakes Region can clog area highways on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons.
You’ll need a car to get around Manchester. The city has a walk score of 48/100 and a bike score of 39/100, but bike lanes are just about non-existent, and many roads have no shoulder. You can use public bus transportation to get around the city, and the bus will also take you to nearby Concord or Nashua.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, located three miles south of downtown, provides substantial commercial service with common airlines.
What to Do
Manchester is a fantastic location for access to many different recreational activities. Located under two hours south from the White Mountain National Forest, you can hike to your heart’s content in the summer or ski at any number of resorts in the winter. NH may only have 13 miles of coastline, but it’s beautiful to drive along Route 1-A and enjoy the beautiful the ocean views. The Lakes Region is about 75 minutes north, and there you can visit Weirs Beach, take a steamship cruise on the vintage SS Mount Washington, or visit the lake where On Golden Pond was filmed.
If you’re looking for indoor activities, the Currier Museum of Art is worth a visit, with over 1,300 pieces of art and many revolving exhibits and programs. The New Hampshire Institute of Art and the Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, are worth a visit. The Palace Theater brings plays, concerts, and musicals within easy access for locals.
Manchester is the only city in the state with its own professional sports teams. You can watch the NH Fisher Cats play baseball at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, or cheer on the Monarchs as they play hockey at Southern NH University Arena.
Schools and Universities
The Manchester public school system includes 15 elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools. In general, the schools rank below average compared to others in the State. According to GreatSchools.org, Manchester Central High School is ranked highest of the three, but even that school only receives a 5/10. Manchester Memorial High School is ranked a 3/10, and Manchester ranks as one of the worst schools in the state.
If you’re looking at higher education opportunities, there are plenty of options from which to choose. St. Anselm’s College is the highest-ranked school according to US News and World Report. Other popular schools are Franklin Pierce University, Granite State College, Hellenic American University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, New Hampshire Institute of Art, Springfield College Manchester, Southern NH University, and University of New Hampshire at Manchester. Manchester Community College enrolls about 3,500 students per semester, and Manchester Technical College is an option if you’re looking for a more application-based program.
Manchester’s crime rate is above the national average in both violent and property crimes. The US average for violent crimes 22.7 and Manchester is rated 34.8. Property crimes are even higher at 47.3 versus the National Average of 35.4. However, violent crime has been declining steadily since 2015 and was down 9% in 2018 from the previous year. So far in 2019, violent crime is down another 9% over last year, so the trends are looking better.
- Gas Service: Liberty Gas serves many communities in and around Manchester. You have to call them to set up new service. Click here for more information.
- Electric Service: Eversource, a major service provider in NH, provides electricity. You can start setting up your service by clicking here.
- Water Service: If you don’t have a private well, the Manchester Water Works provides water services. For more information go to the Manchester Water Works website.
- Trash Pickup/Recycling: Any property on a public street in Manchester is eligible for trash and recycling pickup. You can check the schedule online to see when your pickup days will be. Also, click here for a FAQ page that will give you specifics on trash regulations and recycling info.
- Internet/Cable Service: Xfinity is the cable service available in Manchester. Bundle deals vary depending on whether you’re a current customer or establishing a new account. You can visit Xfinity.com to view bundles, order service, and look at options.
Best Neighborhoods in Manchester, NH
Manchester has 27 separate neighborhoods, all with unique characteristics. Most of the neighborhoods listed here provide you with access to arts & culture, sporting events, fine dining, and more, within a 10-15 minute drive at most. Most of the retail, including the Mall of NH and big-box stores such as Walmart and Target, are located further away on South Willow Street. It’s a nice way to separate the cooler vibe of Downtown from the run-of-the-mill shopping areas.
Wellington, a mostly residential neighborhood located in northeast Manchester, is just to the south of Hooksett and close to both I-93 and Route 101. The Manchester branch of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health Center is in this neighborhood.
The median home listing price is $199,900, and you can expect an average rental price of $1,277. This neighborhood feeds into Manchester Central High School, which is one of the more highly rated schools in the city.
Straw/Smyth is a well-off neighborhood located in north-central Manchester. It borders Hooksett on the north side, Wellington Road to the south, Elm Street to the west, and I-93 to the east. It’s named after two important Manchester residents, Ezekiel Straw and Frederick Smyth, who made great contributions to the planning and governing of the area. Straw/Smyth is home to the Currier Museum of Art, a small but elegant museum featuring many great works of art as well as exhibitions and programs that are updated often.
The median home listing price is $299,700, and you can expect to find an average rental price around $1,277. This neighborhood also feeds into Manchester Central High School.
The North End
Another neighborhood on the northern edge of the city, The North End is a wealthy historic district. The Merrimack River borders the north and west sides, and Hooksett lies to the east. Having been a regimental camp during the Civil War, a famous well used to provide water to Civil War soldiers, is located in the basement of the Eaton House. After the war, many prosperous families moved from Downtown to this area.
The median home listing price is $341,200, and you can expect to find the average rental price around $1,277. Manchester Central High School also serves this community.
Youngsville is a small community in east Manchester, and its eastern border is on the western shores of Massabesic Lake. Route 101 is the northern border of Youngsville. Lake Massabesic provides water to 159,000 people in and around the Manchester area. The beautiful watershed is home to raccoons, deer, fox, loons, and is a favorite fishing spot. Anglers can catch large and smallmouth bass, white and yellow perch, and trout stocked by NH Fish and Game.
The median home listing for this area is $230,000, and the average rental price is $1,262. This neighborhood also feeds into Manchester Central High School.
Lower South Willow
Located near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Lower South Willow is a small but well-off neighborhood. It is also proximate to Cohas Brook, an offshoot of Lake Massabesic in the southern part of Manchester. You’ll find I-293 to the north, South Mammoth Rd to the east, Perimeter Rd on the west side, and the town of Londonderry borders it to the south. South Mammoth Rd and Perimeter Rd boast businesses of all sizes, and many people who live here work very nearby.
The median home listing price is $318,500, and rentals run about $1,247. This neighborhood feeds into Manchester Memorial High School.
Located on the west side of Manchester, Rimmon Heights is bordered by the Merrimack River to the east and the Piscataquog River to the west. Armory Street borders it on the south side, and the Northwest neighborhood is the northern border.
This primarily French Canadian community is on the flatland above the plains of the rivers that border it. Rimmon Heights was the pilot program for the City of Manchester’s Neighborhood Initiatives Program, which was founded in 2012 to rehabilitate residential areas into thriving, vibrant communities.
The median home listing price for Rimmon Heights is $260,000, with rental prices running an average of $1,421. This location feeds into the Manchester West School District, which is the lowest-rated school district in the city, and one of the lowest-rated public school districts in the State.
Another mostly residential neighborhood, Kalivas Union is located north of Manchester Street. Maple and Wilson Streets border the east side, and Willow and Chestnut Streets are to the west. It’s a more densely populated neighborhood than others, with an Irish-ancestry leaning. The centrally located Kalivas Park was named for the first Greek-American who died in action during World War I.
Kalivas Union is considered one of the more walkable neighborhoods in Manchester – you can accomplish many of your errands on foot. The baseball stadium and the Palace Theater are both located in this community, and it’s very close to Downtown. The median home listing price for Kalivas Union is around $279,900, and the median rental will go for around $1,247.
Downtown Manchester, just like most downtowns, is the heart of the city. It’s bordered by Elm, Union, and Willow Streets to the east, Hayward to the south, and the Merrimack River runs along the western edge. An interesting fact – Manchester is the only city to sit squarely on the 43rd degree of latitude.
Amoskeag Falls, along Downtown’s northern edge, is home to a series of locks that allowed water-powered manufacturing to bloom during the early 1800s. Entrepreneurs built large textile mills along the banks of the Merrimack, and by the mid-1800s, Manchester was the largest textile-producing city in the world. At one point, Mill No 11, the largest cotton mill in the world, housed over 4,000 looms. While no longer used in the production of textiles, developers have restored many of these mill buildings over the past ten years to house high-tech companies, luxury apartments, and condominiums.
Any of the homes in Downtown, including those in the residential Historic District, are within walking distance to the SNHU Arena, home to the Manchester Monarch’s hockey team, and Delta Dental Stadium, home to the Fisher Cats professional baseball team. The median home price is $307,500, and rentals are on the higher side, averaging $1,458. Like most of the more well-off neighborhoods, Downtown feeds into the Manchester Central High School.
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