Living in Birmingham: Why Londoners love Commonwealth Games host city


Nearly 10 years after the capital’s glorious summer of the London Olympics began, the sporting spotlight is shining on a different British city that sits on the cusp of major change.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Keely Hodgkinson and Dina Asher-Smith will be among the international athletes heading to Birmingham tomorrow to compete in the Commonwealth Games, the latest milestone in a major investment in the city.

With HS2 on the horizon, much cheaper house prices in the capital and massive regeneration in the city centre, Birmingham is the next under-the-radar relocation option for those leaving London in search of better value homes. Designed to go to hotspots. and a more comfortable lifestyle without sacrificing urban culture.

According to Hamptons research, the number of Londoners making a dash for the Midlands has increased more than sixfold in the past decade.

Birmingham’s sheer affordability is one of the main reasons why Britain’s second city is gaining traction with a growing number of shoppers forced to move out of the capital.

House Prices: How They Compare

Greater London

  • Average Price 2022: £695,383
  • 10-year price change: 63.6%


  • Average Price 2022: £251,888
  • 10-year price change: 64.6%

Source: Sewells research using the Land Registry

Average prices in Birmingham are around a third of those in London – just over £250,000 compared to around £700,000, according to exclusive research by Savills.

No wonder growing numbers of London expats are skipping the Home Counties in favor of the Venice of the North.

‘Coming from London to Birmingham feels calm and friendly’

Luisa O’Melan with her dog Bernie

/ H&P

In 2018, the same year she won the BAFTA Breakthrough Award, 39-year-old comedian Luisa O’Melan was devastated by the unexpected death of her mother.

“I was burnt out, I had a budget of about £250,000 that couldn’t buy me anything in London, and then, because I wasn’t thinking straight, I bought a Burmese mountain dog.”

She was paying around £1,000 a month to rent a flat in London but soon discovered the landlords weren’t keen on her oversized pet.

“Then my sister, who was living in the Midlands, said: ‘Why don’t you look at Birmingham? It’s really nice, it’s central for gigging, HS2 is coming, and you can buy something with a garden. “

O’Melan saw sense in this argument and spent £300,000 on a three-bedroom Victorian house in Selly Park, with plenty of open space for Bernie to walk, across the road from the Midlands Arts Center and nearby attractions such as Couch-Struchley, now A cocktail bar in Hai. Named one of the best in the UK.

She is in the middle of a tour and will play London’s Soho Theater from August 2nd to

“For me it’s the people who make Birmingham. They’re so lovely and so open and welcoming, and London feels calm and friendly coming from Birmingham,” she says.

‘Life here is better for my mental health’

Paul Oliver and John Allen in Birmingham

/ H&P

Other recent London transplants have seen the city transform around them.

Joan Bowen and her husband John were living in a two-bedroom house in Brockley that was bursting at the seams with two boys, John Allen, five, and Paul Oliver, three, and four Jack Russell terriers. However, an increase in capital was out of the question.

Bowen, 38, a special needs teacher, is originally from Birmingham and was happy to be closer to her family. Once her husband, 43, who works in public relations, realized how much more bang for his buck he could get by going 120 miles up the M1, she agreed. They sold their Southeast.

London house for £470,000. Their new four-bedroom house with its own family-sized garden in the suburb of Ardington is priced at £178,000.

“Brockley was pretty run down when we moved there, and then all of a sudden the whole area became really gentrified with farmers markets and cafes and delicious mummies,” he says.

“Exactly the same thing is happening in Birmingham, it has designer shops and eateries and private members’ clubs, not many of them. It’s not as intense as London and life here is very good for my mental health. is better.

HS2 and other investments

“I’ve known Birmingham for 40 years, and if you asked me if it’s an attractive city to move around in, I’d say no,” says Peter Smith, residential director at Barrows & Forrester estate agents.

But that was before Birmingham city centre, surrounded by beautiful, leafy, family-friendly suburbs, began to revive and regenerate.

“Companies like Goldman Sachs and HSBC have moved here, and it’s had a snowball effect on other companies that come close to them. And it all really started because of High Speed ​​Two,” says Smith.

Bullring Shopping Centre

/ Getty Images

HS2 is a monster infrastructure project to build a new train line that will — eventually — connect London to Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

The first phase, due to be completed sometime after 2029, will link the capital to Birmingham, cutting journey times to just under 50 minutes.

Investment in Birmingham shows no signs of slowing down. Australian developer Lendlease, for example, is planning a £1.9 billion regeneration of the city centre’s Smithfield site.

It is currently home to the Bull Ring Markets, replaced by houses, a festival square with cafes and a new market.

And once the Commonwealth Games are over, its £700 million athletes’ village in Perry Barr will be redeveloped as 1,400 new homes plus an upgraded local station, parks and, of course, a sports stadium.

Where to stay in Birmingham

Digbeth: Hipster hangout

Average price: £152,270

Once politely described as “character”, industrial dugout has been colonized by a young, arty crowd who hang out in warehouse clubs, contemporary art galleries and street food markets.

Harborne: Peaceful, but not lazy

Average price: £365,271

Both families and young professionals love this affluent south-west suburb with its smart period houses and flats, good high street, excellent schools and close proximity to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the University of Birmingham.

The Jewelery Quarter: Brim’s answer to Clerkenwell

Average price: £204,964

The rapid regeneration of the city’s former jewelery district has created a classic city-fringe village, with high-rise apartments, independent cafes and cool shops.

Know: Trophy address

Average price: £509,950

This very leafy suburb with its village-style high street is one of the best options in or around Birmingham, and is close to HS2’s Birmingham interchange station which means a short commute into London and No need to go downtown to catch it. Service