A former mill-town in the Greater Manchester area, Bolton has a fascinating history that’s inextricably entwined with Britain’s industrial past. Located in the North West of England, Bolton is close to both the city of Manchester and the picturesque West Pennine Moors. It’s home to one of the oldest public libraries in the UK, as well as a university and the Bolton Wanderers football team.
Is Bolton a good place to live? Yes. While there are downsides to living in Bolton, the area offers an excellent balance of access to rural areas and the amenities of a large town. Transport connections are excellent and there are plenty of good schools.
Whether you’re considering a job offer from one of the many businesses operating out of Bolton, thinking of beginning a degree programme at the University of Bolton or just considering possible UK towns for relocation, you’ve found this page because you have questions about Bolton and its environs. What is the Bolton job market like? How expensive is it to buy property in Bolton? Where are the most desirable neighbourhoods? To find out all of this and more, read on.
Is Bolton a good place to live?
Like any large town, Bolton has good and bad points. The town has weathered significant economic upheaval since its heyday as a major player in Britain’s textile manufacturing industry. Like many former industrial towns in the UK, Bolton has recovered from its post-industrial decline by embracing services and high technology. The result is a thriving town with plenty of amenities and opportunities.
Unfortunately, Bolton struggles with a fairly high crime rate as compared to the rest of the UK. While most of the actual crime is concentrated around the town centre, there are a few hot spots in outlying areas too. It’s worth noting that crime in the UK as a whole is fairly low so even a town with a higher-than-usual crime rate isn’t necessarily a dangerous place to live. Crime tends to be higher in less affluent neighbourhoods such as Great Lever and Clayton. In the more upmarket areas, including villages such as Lostock and Egerton, crime is very low.
Bolton is well-served in terms of schools. There are plenty of primary schools, both state-funded and independent. Secondary schools in Bolton vary in quality but some are very good. Because of the town’s industrial past and tech-oriented present, Bolton is a good place to study engineering and IT subjects. For school-leavers who are interested in further education, there are two main options: Bolton College and Bolton Sixth Form College. Bolton has its own university, the University of Bolton, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in a broad range of topics.
Transport links in and out of Bolton are very good. The town is on a number of major roads and motorways — a legacy of its past as a manufacturing centre. There are plenty of local buses as well as regional and intercity bus services. Rail connections are excellent, with plenty of trains to Manchester and regional stations as well as long-distance services.
Bolton’s social scene and nightlife has benefited significantly from the University of Bolton, with lots of new venues popping up after the former college acquired university status in 2005. The centre of town can get a little rowdy in the evenings, especially late at night after the pubs start to close, but there are quieter areas where you can enjoy a more relaxed night out in pleasanter surroundings.
Is Bolton a good place to work?
There’s good news and bad news when considering Bolton’s employment situation. The percentage of people in full-time employment is lower than in the country as a whole and also lower than the average in the region. There’s also a higher level of unemployment. This suggests that more people are out of work, and also that underemployment is a problem in the town.
For those in work, the average wage is dramatically lower than the UK average — less than £20,000 as compared to a national average of around £29,000.
With all of that being said, there are plenty of great opportunities for career development in Bolton. If you’re a skilled and experienced candidate, or even a recent graduate with a good qualification, you can find an excellent position at one of the many major companies operating in and around Bolton.
The wholesale and retail sector provides the lion’s share of employment in Bolton, furnishing more than a fifth of the town’s jobs. Motor vehicle repair features heavily in Bolton’s service sector. Manufacturing is the next largest sector in terms of the number of jobs it provides; while textiles aren’t produced in the same quantity as they once were, this type of manufacturing still takes place in Bolton. There are plenty of traditional manufacturing firms in the area, making everything from paper to steel to building materials. Two big names are sportswear manufacturer Reebok and Warburton’s bakery. Health and social work engages over one-tenth of Bolton’s workers, chiefly through the NHS and Bolton Council but also through private care providers. Storage, transport and communication services provide another important source of employment, with call centres and data processing supplanting heavy industry since the 1990s.
The presence of high-tech electronics and IT companies means that there are well-paying jobs to be had in Bolton. Another sector offering higher-paying positions is the legal sector; Keoghs LLP is one notable law firm operating in Bolton.
Is Bolton a good place to buy a house?
Housing in Bolton is very cheap. There are fairly huge differences between house prices in the cheapest areas versus the more expensive areas; the least expensive places to buy a house are Great Lever, Heaton, Tonge Moor and Clayton, while the most expensive include Lostock, Altrincham and Egerton. On average, however, the price of a house in Bolton is under £212,000.
The average purchase price for a single-bedroomed house is £128,000 while a three-bedroom house costs somewhere in the region of £180,000.
Larger five-bedroomed properties tend to be available in more desirable areas, which means that prices are significantly higher: around £621,000 on average.
Rents are similarly quite low. The average rent is around £670 pcm. A one-bedroom house rents for about £540 pcm. A three-bedroom house costs around £790 pcm and a five-bedroom home rents for roughly £1,660 pcm.
As you can see, Bolton is an attractive option for homebuyers — particularly those looking for a way onto the property ladder. Bolton is quite popular with commuters working in Manchester; the two cities are well-connected by road and rail, and Manchester, being a larger city, has plenty of employment but more expensive housing.
Is Bolton a good place to retire?
Bolton has a smaller percentage of retirees than the population as a whole, both regionally and nationally. Even so, there are a number of advantages to retiring to Bolton. Although it’s not quite as safe or crime-free as you might want, crime is fairly low in more affluent areas. There are plenty of amenities and good transport links. Healthcare, often a concern for retirees, is good.
There are many excellent retirement properties and communities in Bolton. You can find quality retirement flats with one bedroom for around £55,000; the average is closer to £100,000, however, as luxury developments in more sought-after neighbourhoods tend to be significantly more expensive. The Sharples Hall development is fairly inexpensive while still being a pleasant neighbourhood, while areas such as Lostock, Altrincham and Egerton offer more luxurious properties at higher prices. There tend to be relatively few larger retirement properties in Bolton and the ones that do come on the market are usually in outlying areas.
Retirement rentals are mostly for one-bedroom properties, which rent for around £600 pcm depending on location and the services provided by the property’s management. Most retirement properties available for rent are one or two bedroom flats, with a few studios. If you wish to rent a larger home for your retirement, your best option may well be to look for a standard rental property that meets your needs. A three-bedroom home is roughly £790 pcm while a standard five-bedroom house costs around £1,660 pcm.
Is Bolton a good place to visit?
Yes, Bolton is an interesting place to visit if you find yourself in the Greater Manchester area. Bolton offers a range of accommodation options, from standard chain hotels to boutique suites in interesting parts of the city.
Local landmarks include Bolton Town Hall (a Grade II listed building) and Smithills Hall, a 14th-century hall that now houses a museum. Hall i’ th’ Wood is a yeoman farmer’s dwelling dating from the medieval era, also a museum. If your thirst for history is still not quenched, a visit to Bolton Steam Museum is sure to be a hit with younger family members.
Bolton has an abundance of parks, farms and play areas to visit. Smithills Open Farm offers a fun and educational experience. Moses Gate Country Park and Jumbles Country Park offer interesting trails and scenic walks, while the On-Safari Play Centre will allow boisterous youngsters to burn off their surplus energy even when the weather is bad. You can easily access the West Pennine Moors If you’re a more ambitious hiker.
Moviegoers will be pleased to learn that Bolton has a 15-screen cineplex in the city centre. If you want a change from the latest blockbuster film, however, try the Octagon Theatre; this famous Bolton landmark offers a range of entertainment. The city centre is also great for shopping.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.