Couple buy dream home up north after leaving London where it would cost millions

Simon Mayhew

Simon Mayhew moved into his Manchester penthouse last year (Image: M.E.N)

A couple has told how they relocated from London to Manchester to buy their dream home due to properties being more affordable in the north.

Simon Mayhew and his partner Paul, moved into their duplex penthouse last year.

The 37-year-old theatre agent moved from Suffolk to London in 2003 and rented for several years before meeting Paul, who works as a photographer.

Despite both living in the capital at the time, the pair first met while on holiday in Gran Canaria.

Simon got on the property ladder when he was 31 after buying his first home with Paul in 2016—a two-bed ground floor flat in south-east London that cost £275,000.

Over the last six years, the couple has climbed up the property ladder in London, making the jump from their flat to a four-bedroom house that they bought for £630,000.

However, despite feeling settled, the coronavirus pandemic forced Simon and Paul to rethink their living situation.

Simon told The Manchester Evening News: “We had to give up our office in Soho because of the pandemic, but it made me and my partner realise that we actually didn’t need to live in London anymore as we can work from anywhere, so we decided to make the trip up to Manchester.”

Living space

The stunning open plan living space (Image: M.E.N)

The pair packed up and moved in February 2021 to start their new life up north.

They lived in an apartment in Deansgate Square before coming across their dream penthouse in Castle Wharf.

“Originally we were only going to stay in Manchester for a year but we loved it so much that we wanted to buy here,” said Simon.

“We were living in Deansgate Square but we wanted something a bit more homely. We always wanted to be by water and Castle Wharf is right on the canal so it was perfect.

“We kept walking past it and we were like, ‘oh my God, imagine living in that penthouse, that would be amazing’.

“Then one day we went into the marketing suite but we had no intention of buying, like absolutely no intention whatsoever. We just wanted to be nosey and have a little look.

“But the second we set foot in there we just fell in love with it. I’d say it’s our dream home.”


The kitchen area (Image: M.E.N)

The pair bought their three-bed penthouse suite for £690,000 and moved in during December 2021.

Their duplex apartment overlooks the city centre facing Deansgate Square and Beetham Tower.

“If this apartment was in central London, it would’ve cost about five or six million, it would be extortionate. The price difference is crazy,” said Simon.

“I do think it’s good value for money because we’re right in the city centre and we have a wrap-around balcony with such a large outdoor space and amazing views.

“A lot of the apartments around here just don’t have the size of outdoor space that we do.

“I love that you walk outside our front door and you’re immediately in the city. Everything is right there and we can walk everywhere.

“Manchester was the only place where I could see myself living outside of London because it’s big enough that there’s so much going on but small enough that there is a real sense of community.”

Living room

The living area (Image: M.E.N)

Simon and Paul still own their house in London but they now rent it out, which helps pay towards the mortgage for their apartment.

“We did a lot of renovations on our house in London which bumped up its value and we now rent it out.

“What we rent it out for is massive compared to what we’re paying here and that’s enabled us to be able to afford to buy this here.”

After buying their penthouse apartment, Simon said it was move-in ready with a blank canvas for them to put their own stamp on it.

Simon, who is currently taking an interior design course, described his home as a boutique hotel feel with luxury neutrals and a hint of colour.

“My main inspiration for my own interior design is definitely Soho House. I love everything about the brand and their style so I took inspiration from that,” he said.

“We haven’t done much to the house in terms of renovation work, apart from adding in a media wall and a room divider which I got inspiration for from downstairs in the concierge. Apart from that we’ve just decorated, restyled and accessorised.”


The penthouse has three bedrooms (Image: M.E.N)

Taking us through the layout of the penthouse, Simon explained: “You come in through the front door and there’s the hallway which we’ve wallpapered with a really gorgeous textured wallpaper which gives it a boutique hotel vibe.

“The first door on the right is our downstairs bathroom. Then when you walk into the main door you walk straight through into the lounge and kitchen area.

“The lounge is on the right hand side and the kitchen wraps around on the left hand side. The entire width of the living space has an outdoor balcony which is accessed by sliding doors.

“Upstairs there’s three bedrooms on the left hand side and then there’s a big bathroom on the right hand side.”

After buying his penthouse, Simon set up his own home Instagram account @myhomeinthecity_ which has now amassed 10,100 followers.

“I’ve always been into interiors and then when we bought this place I realised that home accounts existed on Instagram.

“I didn’t really follow many before, but that’s when I really got into it and now I just love it.

“I got a big following fairly quickly just through interacting with other home accounts and creating connections with businesses.

“Every Friday I host Sourced By Me, which is doing really well.

“Each week people tell me what they’re looking for for their home, which could be anything from finding a piece of furniture to giving paint or wallpaper advice.

“I’ve been connecting with a lot of companies and brands on that.

“It’s doing really well and I’m just going to see where it takes me.”

Giving advice to other homeowners when renovating, Simon said: “My best piece of advice is to work out what colours you like, don’t try and copy trends or anyone else.

“Work out the colour tones that you gravitate towards and then you can incorporate other people’s tastes and ideas. Just go for it and throw yourself into it.”

Simon said he believes that in order to become a homeowner, you should be careful with your savings – but not to the point where it restricts your life.

“With saving it’s a balance, because you want to live your life but you also want to get on the property ladder.

“I just wouldn’t put pressure on yourself because it’s going to take different people different lengths of time. I would say don’t save so hard that you’re not enjoying your life.”

He added: “I’m absolutely so proud of my home and proud to be a homeowner. I love Manchester and I can’t see us ever moving back to the south now.”

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