Birmingham

City of Birmingham

Cultural vibrancy, excellent transport links and impressive retail spaces make this entrepreneurial city one of the most attractive urban centres outside London. So what’s it really like to live in Birmingham?

‘Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe with almost 40% of the population under the age of 25.’

Moving to Birmingham

With a population of around 1.1 million, the sprawling city of Birmingham is known as the most prosperous centre for business and innovation in the West Midlands, with 75,000 companies spread across the city, 1,000 of which are international. Voted the Best UK City to Visit by readers of Group Leisure Magazine in 2013 and one of the ’top cities for 2015’ by Rough Guides, the region is home to the sleek headquarters of several FTSE100 companies, and celebrates the highest concentration of financial and professional services outside London.

A major centre during the Industrial Revolution and the world’s first manufacturing town, the spirit of invention and entrepreneurship is still very much alive and thriving in the background of the city. Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe with almost 40% of the population under the age of 25. As a result, the area is continuously bursting with creativity and fresh ideas, inspired by the youthful ambition that has fuelled so many ground-breaking automotive, medical, and technology inventions in the past. Every year, of the 4,000 inventions copyrighted in the UK, over half are from Birmingham and in 2013, the eager business-minded population registered over 16,000 start-ups in the city. What’s more, with so many universities, there are plenty of students wandering around, doing their weekly shop or heading for a study session at the Library of Birmingham, the largest regional library in Europe and officially opened by Malala Yousafzai in 2013.

House prices in Birmingham

House prices in Birmingham are around £175,000 on average as of 2017, currently lower than the average UK property price although prices are rising here relatively swiftly. Available properties in Birmingham are a mix of luxury properties, modest terraced properties, detached family homes and budget-friendly flats, with certain parts of the city, such as Bournville and Sutton Coldfield, supporting a more affluent community than other areas. At the centre of the city, stylish apartments are a common sight, drawing in young professionals looking to reside at the centre of the buzz. For sporting enthusiasts, Edgbaston is another popular area, home to the famous Edgbaston cricket ground as well as everything from decadent million-pound properties to one-bedroom flats.  Bordering this, the prime student location of Selly Oak is home to Selly Oak Colleges, part of the University of Birmingham, but also has plenty of affordable properties suited to the needs of first-time buyers.

“A major centre during the Industrial Revolution and the world’s first manufacturing town, the spirit of invention and entrepreneurship is still very much alive and thriving”

Transport

Regarding transport links, Birmingham is very well connected with regular routes running in and out of London, as well as across the length and breadth of the city. The Bullring Shopping Centre is directly linked to the city’s main train station, Birmingham New Street, and via this route, a trip down to central London’s Euston station takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. This journey will become significantly shorter once plans for phase one of High Speed Two (HS2) rail service come into effect. Within the city, public transport includes the Midland Metro tram system, a myriad of bus routes and a number of local railway lines ensuring that residents are well served in all directions.

For drivers, the M5 and M6 pass along the edges of the city along with several other major roads for easy travel in and out of Birmingham and for international travel, Birmingham Airport is only a 30-minute drive from the city centre.

Lifestyle

After a hard day’s work, Birmingham offers a glittering array of restaurants and bars for residents looking to relax and unwind. From extravagant evening spots such as Bacchus Bar to stylish eateries like Simpsons, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets, largely owing to the city’s culturally diverse population. Of Birmingham’s 1.1 million residents, one third are from a minority ethnic community, which has led to a rich mix of food and shopping outlets in the area. Where else can you lunch at a renowned Michelin-starred eatery, grab a quick pint of Guinness in the UK’s only Irish Quarter, Digbeth, and finish off with a fiery dinner in the Balti Triangle district at one of over 100 Balti houses stationed across the city?

For shopping addicts, there is no doubt that Birmingham’s glamorous retail scene is unrivalled by any other urban centres in the Midlands. Headed by the iconic golden bull statue and opened in 1964, the Bullring shopping centre sits beneath St. Martin’s Church, one of Birmingham’s oldest buildings and an area which has been the site of a market for more than 800 years. It hosts over 160 stores ranging from high-end department stores, such as Selfridges to international chains including Forever 21 and Topshop. It’s no wonder that the centre attracts around 20 million shoppers every year, drawn in by the variety, generous store size and the annual Christmas Market, which is the largest of its kind in the country, and combines fairground rides and live music with warming schnitzels and hot chocolate. Alongside the best in mainstream fashion, areas such as Soho Road and Ladypool Road in Ladywood are full of shops which celebrate the newest trends in South-Asian style. Stores like J P Emporium, Kiran’s and Royal Sweets, overflow with the latest traditional clothing designs, jewellery and authentic pastries and sweets.

Groceries

Alongside branches of national supermarket chains such as Tesco and Sainsburys, there are many specialised Asian grocers and supermarkets like Wah Wah Mirchi to be found throughout Birmingham. Other popular food outlets include Nima Delicatessen on Alcester Road and Damascena Coffee House, which serves an abundance of authentic Middle-Eastern delights.

Health & Sport

Birmingham is home to a number of great sporting firsts, being the esteemed birthplace of tennis in 1859, as well as the first city to be named the National City of Sport by the UK Sports Council. For footie fans, moreover, local football teams Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City, Coventry City and ‘Wolves,’ all have their home grounds in the region, whilst for more localised exercise branches of gym chains such as PureGym, easygym and David Lloyd can all be found throughout the city.

Culture

Alongside an enviable shopping scene and lively nightlife, the city is known for being a prime cultural hub, with some of the best museums, arts and events venues outside London. With over half a million visitors a year, the Birmingham Hippodrome is the busiest theatre in the UK, hosting a range of dance, drama, musicals and comedy performances. Alternatively, close by on Chamberlain Square, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which first opened in 1885 hosts the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world, drawing art-enthusiasts from all over the country. The National Exhibition Centre (NEC), in Marston Green, is also a notable events venue, hosting over 320 exhibitions every year.

Meanwhile for a unique cultural experience, be sure to take to the streets on the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi, where the celebrations are the largest in Europe, or on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, when more than 80,000 people turn out to get involved in the third largest of its kind in the world.

“With over 8,000 acres of green space and 6 million trees standing tall throughout the region, the city is one of the greenest in the UK”

Schools and Education

Birmingham offers a good selection of schools, particularly for younger children with seven primary schools in the area where 100% of pupils are achieving expected levels of English and Maths. Leading primary schools in Birmingham include Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary School. Chad Vale Primary School and Warren Farm Primary School, whilst Selective King Edward Vi Camp Hill School For Girls (Selective), King Edward’s School (Independent) and state Bishop Challoner Catholic College  are among the best secondary schools in Birmingham.

Safety

The average crime rate in Birmingham was 78 crimes per 1000 people as of 2016, lower than other large cities in the UK such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. Areas with the highest crime levels include Ladywood, Nechells, Soho and Aston.

Green Space

For some quiet time away from the flurry of the city, take a welcome break in one of Birmingham’s 600 parks and open spaces. With over 8,000 acres of green space and 6 million trees standing tall throughout the region, the city is one of the greenest in the UK. Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield, is the largest urban park in Europe and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), offering residents in the north of the city 2,400 acres of space to unwind after a long day. Alternatively, closer to central Birmingham, spaces such as Woodgate Valley Country Park and Lickey Hills offer locals a number of family-orientated facilities, including playgrounds, woodlands and a kite-flying area to enjoy.

History

By the 19th century, Birmingham’s pumping pistons had fired the city into the lead as the first manufacturing town in the world. In addition to shiny buttons and buckles, the city’s craftsmen were leaders in the manufacture of pens, jewellery and guns, with the latter two specialisms each owning their own district. During the Napoleonic Wars, more than 3 million guns were made in the Gun Quarter of the city and two thirds of those used by the British Army originated in this area. Production in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was also significant, with over 40% of the UK’s handmade jewellery created in the city to this day.

 

 

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