Birmingham, a major regional city in England’s West Midlands, needs little introduction as one of the world’s current hot spots for property investors.
But like all cities, Birmingham too has many faces and places that require some closer exploration to help property investors decide where to put their money. It’s like deciding which part of this magnificent city’s significantly varied character appeals most to you and then matching it with all the relevant economic and investment imperatives that make for a good property investment.
But first, a few facts about Birmingham in general. Mercer’s most recent Global Quality of Living Report ranked Birmingham in the world’s top 50 cities, ahead of Hong Kong, Rome and even Dubai! And in this year’s PwC Emerging Trends report, Birmingham has been rated the top city in the UK for property investment.
A major pull factor to Birmingham is the exceptional range of employment opportunities offered here. Giants like HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and HM Revenue and Customs are all relocating here and collectively increasing their staff numbers to approximately 8,000 personnel by this year. Already this city is home to 1.1 million people, with further predicted population growth of some 171,000 people by 2039.
Almost 40% of the city’s population are aged under 25, which allows Birmingham to claim that it is the UK’s youngest and fastest growing regional city. As such, it has undeniably become the city of choice of a booming and vibrant community of young professionals. And here is the cherry on the property investment cake: 51,000 new residential properties are needed in Birmingham over the next 10 years if supply is to keep up with demand.
Curzon Street Station in Birmingham’s Eastside will be at the heart of England’s new high-speed rail network, known as HS2. This high-speed rail system will bring Birmingham and the West Midlands within an hour’s commute of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, London, York, Preston and Wigan, .
Some very impressive new mixed-use developments are in Curzon Park where the rail terminus will be located, as well as in nearby City Park Gate. The area is also home to Birmingham City University’s popular Birmingham Institute of Art & Design.
In the Westside, the charm of the old mixes flawlessly with the vibrancy of the new. Here, meticulously restored Victorian commercial premises co-exist with bold new living and working complexes. A prime example is Paradise Square, a planned ten-building development that will eventually comprise of commercial, civic, retail, leisure and hotel space.
Here too you will find the prestigious Queen’s College Chambers Building which dates back to 1828, when it started life as accommodation for medical students. Now with the original magnificent façade retained and restored and with modern apartments added behind it, this is one of the hottest properties in the city.
Another favourite with people from across the city is Westside’s canalside Brindleyplace and its vibrant waterside lifestyle. Here locals and visitors enjoy a wide choice of meals, comedy, music and pubs, while it’s also popular for the Dragonboat or film festivals.
It’s an area where professionals and footballers – Premiership professionals themselves – rub shoulders.
This is an authentic creative hub with a solid history, described by English Heritage as ‘a national treasure’. Some 250 years ago, jewellers made this area their trade home and these days around 40% of the UK’s jewellery is still made here, preserving that artisanal character of centuries gone by.
Since then the arts, media and creative industries have also moved in, along with a substantial community of professional service providers. It is also in this area that one finds Birmingham’s last remaining Georgian square, together with lovingly restored old townhouses.
In addition to the creative pull of the Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth is billed as Birmingham’s major creative quarter. It’s a mere 10 minutes’ walk from the famous Bullring retail centre, and with its refurbished and repurposed former industrial buildings, it has a look and feel similar to London’s Shoreditch.
Here people join in the creative bustle and buzz, grabbing street-side fast food or a good craft beer, before browsing the contemporary art galleries that are aplenty around here. Together with the area’s seductive blend of culture, art and entertainment, it’s value-for-money appeal also draws the young, the artistic and those simply with a love of art to come and settle here.
This part of the city is situated on its northern side and was for many years a centre of the world’s gun-manufacturing industry, hence its name. These days the gun industry has been replaced by small-scale engineering and commerce. The area is within walking distance from two universities – Birmingham City University and Aston University. As a result, it’s fast becoming popular among students and young academics.
Who can resist a Chinatown anywhere in the world? With a landmark pagoda at its heart, the ever-popular Chinese Quarter lies within the wider Southside that includes a Chinatown. It’s an area alive with the sounds, smells and buzz of its many restaurants, cafes, street food vendors and some of Birmingham’s hippest nightspots. Over the last few years active rejuvenation of the area has given it a vibrant new lease of life. For culture and arts addicts the Birmingham Old Rep Theatre, Royal Ballet, the O2 Academy and Birmingham Hippodrome are all within easy reach. The area is much sought after as a residential or work address by young professionals who are lured here by the energetic local atmosphere.