Altrincham has been named the Best Place to Live in the North West of England.
It is top of a list of eight locations in the region chosen by The Sunday Times in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.
Manchester also made it into the shortlist, particularly for the area around Manchester Piccadilly station, which has been commended for its redevelopment.
On Altrincham, judges described the Greater Manchester market town as where suburbia meets utopia.
They particularly admired the areas schools, with the girls grammar being named the North West state secondary school of the decade by The Sunday Times Parent Power guide, while the boys grammar landed second place.
The convenient tram route into central Manchester was noted, and so too were its open spaces such as Stamford Park, the River Bollin and the National Trusts Dunham Massey.
Most of all, though, they were impressed with the market and food hall responsible for the regeneration of the town centre.
They made a special mention of Tender Cows triple-cooked chips (4) and the way that even though the market was only able to sell essentials during lockdown, it remained at the heart of life in the town.
Altrincham was titled The Sunday Times Best Place to Live in Britain overall last year, but this year that honour went to Stroud in Gloucestershire.
Alongside Alty, seven other locations were selected across the region for the guide, listed in no particular order.
They favoured Manchester, Saddleworth in Oldham, Liverpool, Knutsford and Bollington in Cheshire, Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, and Arnside and Silverdale, Cumbria.
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, says the guide has never been so important in 2021.
The pandemic has taught us how much we rely on our homes and communities, she says, with many of us reassessing our priorities on where we really want to live.
Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience, Helen said.
It hasnt been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead, it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.
Altrincham was chosen as our regional winner this year as it has everything you want in a suburb: parks, excellent transport links and top-class schools.
She added: The inspirational market and food hall that transformed the town centre from the worst in Britain to a favourite destination have continued to show their value, even during the pandemic.
Safiyyah Abdulla, of GINKGO on Stamford New Road, says moving to Altrincham from London was a no brainer.
She owns the health and eco-lifestyle store with her sister, Qayyah, offering nutritional supplements alongside a zero-waste refill station.
"When choosing a location for our new store, Altrincham was an absolute no brainer, she said.
We love living and working here. There really is an unparalleled sense of community and we feel so fortunate to be surrounded by the most amazing set of local independent businesses who have rallied together to support each other through the last year.
It has been fantastic to see that despite Covid, a growing number of vibrant independents are joining the area and with the exciting new redevelopment plans for Stamford Quarter, the area really feels like it will continue to flourish."
Altrincham property expert Steve Ford from Purplebricks says in his 37 years of estate agency, Altrincham has always been an "extremely popular hotspot."
The tram gets you to the centre of Manchester in about 20 minutes whilst you still enjoy the leafy suburbs on the edge of the Cheshire countryside," he said.
Altrincham town centre is enjoying a huge investment and resurgence.
"The announcements this week around the proposed improvements to the Stamford Quarter further illustrate how the town centre is truly returning to a bustling market town."
The Sunday Times expert judges assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.
They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well-designed homes, and locations bursting with community spirit.
This is what the judges had to say on the other selected locations in the North West:
Even in a difficult year for Manchester, with its shops, bars and live music venues closed and a supernova of high-rise investment flats springing up, the judges found plenty to be impressed by.
Most of it is in the area around Manchester Piccadilly station.
Piccadilly provides a perfect weekday work perch or a full-time base in the thick of the action, the judges said.
The clutch of new developments under construction wont just plug a gap between Manchesters best bits Ancoats and the Northern Quarter; Canal Street and Oxford Road they will also bring much-needed colour and community to an overlooked corner."
They are particularly impressed by Crusader Mill, an elegant conversion that has become the citys first purpose-built owner-occupier development thanks to a ban on buy-to-renters by developers Capital & Centric and Kampus, a lively garden neighbourhood beside the canal.
Average sale price: 210,000
Average rental: 650 pcm
This collection of villages combines old-fashioned country living with high-class shops and restaurants - perfect for Manchester commuters and work-from-homers looking for fresher air without sacrificing the good things of life, said the judges.
Their highlights include the luxury ice cream from Grandpa Greenes in Diggle and country pubs, such as the Cross Keys Inn, or the Church Inn, where the Rushcart Festival, the big event of the year, is celebrated in jolly style.
Average sale price: 229,000
Average rental: 1,200 pcm
These twin villages on the Kent estuary have some of the finest views in the country as well as an energetic, kind-hearted community, said the judges, who were impressed by the efforts of the 500 or so volunteers who delivered meals, ran telephone buddy systems and sewed PPE kit during the pandemic.
They also highlighted the friendly sailing club, which has been holding virtual music nights featuring local musicians, and the tasty fish and chips from the Arnside Chip Shop.
Average sale price: 295,000
Average rental: 625 pcm
Cheshires happy valley kept a smile on its face thanks to an endless choice of country walks and helpful neighbours, said the judges.
They love the views from White Nancy, the beehive-shaped folly overlooking the town, the walks on the Middlewood Way, and the spicy takeaways from the Indian Goat, a brilliant new food truck based at the immaculately kept recreation ground.
Average sale price: 285,000
Average rental: 725 pcm
This handsome old town justified its status as one of our very favourite locations thanks to its magnificent scenery, brilliant high street and its prompt, well organised and inspiring response to the coronavirus, according to the judges.
They were particularly impressed by the way organisations such as the Rugby Club, Queen Elizabeth School and the churches work together to help the community, as well as the variety on display in its town centre, from Dales Butchers and the Milking Parlour, a brilliant cow-to-cone ice cream shop, to the clothes and homewares at Abrahams, described by some as the Liberty of the North.
Average sale price: 350,000
Average rental: 765 pcm
Posh Cheshire with a sense of fun and a love of the countryside, is how the judges described the ancient market town that is a regular feature on the Best Places to Live list.
Theres no better example of its spirit than the Knutsford Hosts, a group of volunteer helpers whose efforts have been vital during the pandemic, they said.
They also liked the quirky buildings designed by Richard Harding Watt, the walks in Tatton Park, in Toft Wood or around Knutsford Moor - and the coffee from the Tatton Perk coffee van.
Average sale price: 445,000
Average rental: 1,100 pcm
Despite the current political controversy, the judges think that Liverpools prospects look bright, with exciting new plans in the pipeline, from the new film studio in the iconic Littlewoods building to Evertons new waterfront stadium.
There was lots of competition but the judges favourite spots are Aigburth, which they described as a family-friendly suburb thats sensible but never boring, with Sefton Park for exercise and Lark Lane for fun.
Also the Georgian Quarter, where the beautiful period houses sell for half as much as they would in Bath, and neighbourhood restaurants such as the splendidly restored London Carriage Works.
Average sale price: 145,000
Average rental: 875 pcm
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