Situated centrally in England, Birmingham is the second largest city and has the second largest city economy. Birmingham has a population of about 1.3 million living in the city and 3.7 million in its greater metropolitan area and is a youthful city with 43% of its population under the age of 30.
Although many will say that moving to London is preferential to moving to Birmingham and true there are more job opportunities in the capital, without a doubt, even though wages are lower, money goes further. Compared to London, rents are on average 30- 45% lower and food baskets and other costs, 20%+ cheaper. Moving to Birmingham could be the best decision you make as it is a fun city and certainly Brummies (the friendly nickname for people who live in Birmingham) are friendly and welcoming. Birmingham is the most ethnically diverse city in the UK with more than 108 different languages spoken.
So What Is the City’s Employment History?
From a small market town, by the 18th century, Birmingham had become the first manufacturing town in the world. It developed into an industrial jungle which was the centre of the industrial revolution and then became the heart of the UK’s technological and scientific advances. It has always had numerous small workshops where specialised and highly skilled engineers and craftsmen have worked. Today, it is a major international commercial centre with a strong service sector. The city has plenty of employment opportunities – especially with start- up companies and an increasing number of national and international companies are relocating there.
How Is the City Changing?
Birmingham is the second largest city in England but prides itself on the fact that there are 500 lovely parks with Cannon Hill and Sheldon being the largest. Birmingham also has a canal network with more waterways than Venice and a boat trip or walk along the tow path to one of the trendy coffee shops is a relaxing to do. There have been successful restoration projects for historical streets and buildings as well as part of the canal. The city has fun activities for families including ice skating, the World Sea Life Centre and Wacky Warehouse.
There are six thriving universities and rich culture including a lively literary, arts and music scene. With so many different nationalities living in the city there are all types of different restaurants too! In 2022, the city will host the Commonwealth Games.
The ‘Big City Plan’ was launched in 2010 with the aim of developing Birmingham into a world class city by 2031.This project is the biggest of its kind in Europe and very ambitious. The plan is in two phases and includes the development of 28 kilometres of pedestrian and cycle routes, 5,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs.
What Is the City Centre Like?
There are seven distinct parts to the city, some are old and historical like the Jewellery Quarter and others relatively new. In the Big City Plan, each will be sensitively developed with its own distinctive character and focus. Birmingham is known for its good selection of shops. The Bull Ring is a huge shopping mall with three storeys of great shops and the Mailbox is a collection of designer shops and a Harvey Nichols store. There are markets too such as Bull Market and Balti Triangle which specialises in Asian foods and clothing. There is a good selection of bars, clubs and a good nightlife.
Is There a Good Transport Network?
Birmingham has great public transport that is continually improving. There are buses, trains and the Midland Metro rail/trams. The services operate every day of the week and some are 24 hour. New Street Station is a new rail hub in the city centre that has really sped journeys up for commuters, as has the new Moor Street bus interchange. Season tickets are well priced and average £65 a month for transport within the city.
The development of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network will have a huge impact on the city as it will be linking Birmingham with London. The first phase of the project that will link London and Manchester with 18 trains an hour will be completed by 2026 and the second phase linking Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds will be completed by 2033. The ‘bullet’ style trains will have a top speed of 324 kilometres per hour which will greatly reduce commuter time between the cities.
Driving in the city is easy, rush hour is a nightmare and car parking very expensive! There have been a number of incentives to encourage car sharing and cycling. Birmingham also has the convenience of its own international airport that is situated just south east of the city centre.
What About Rental Prices?
House prices compared to other cities are reasonable, but prices vary from one area to another across the city. A one bedroom flat to rent in the city centre averages £550+ a month, but one in the suburbs will cost up to £200 less. A three bedroom flat in the city centre will set you back about £900 monthly whereas the average price, if you look further afield is £650. These figures make the cost of renting a property in Birmingham up to 150% cheaper than in London.
There are plenty of flat shares in the city centre as many of the large Victorian houses have been converted into four-six good size studios. Some of the older flats do need work doing on them, but this is usually reflected in the rental price. For students, Selly Oak is the popular location as there is a large selection of student accommodation.
And Property to Buy?
As a ‘rule of thumb’ the average cost of a property is about £2,900 per square metre (10.8 square feet). The most expensive residential areas are Sutton Coldfield and Solihull. Edgbaston, Moseley and Harbourne are popular and property prices are in the mid-range. Harbourne in particular, is popular as it is very ‘self-contained’. Kings Heath, Stirchley, Selly Oak and Bournvillle are more reasonably priced.
Currently, there are several building projects that are converting old warehouses into attractive flat complexes. The first luxury apartment complex, One Five One, which comprises of 11 apartments in a historical building has already been completed. The Axium is a large project on the south side of the city centre that is creating a complex of 304 flats within the shell of a historical building.
The great plus factor is that nowhere in England is far from Birmingham as it is so centrally located. For holidays and weekends away you can reach so many places in just 2-3 hours in any direction. If you are a chocolate lover, the biggest bonus is that Bournville of course is home to the world famous Cadbury’s chocolate!