For Service-leavers looking for a place to call home and put down roots, The Midlands offers a great balance of city and country.
By Sarah Todhunter
Spanning the heart of England, The Midlands covers a wide area and is an increasingly popular area for those looking to relocate, particularly due to its transport links into both London and to the north. The Midlands region is currently home to over 10 million people.
The East Midlands
The fourth largest region of England, the East Midlands consists of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire (excluding north/northeast), Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. The two largest cities are Nottingham and Leicester and there are many towns of varying sizes dotted across the area.
The region’s most prominent industry is manufacturing, with factories located over the entire area. From automotive and industrial companies such as Rolls Royce and Tata Steel, to the likes of Dr Martens, Carlsberg and Weetabix, there is an established base of manufacturing throughout the East Midlands.
Due to its transport links into London and its proximity to the road network, in particular, the M1, A1, A6 and the nearby M6 on the east/west border, the area has become home to distribution networks for a number of large companies. Under construction and due to be completed in 2019 is the East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park, Castle Donington, which is expected to create over 7,000 new jobs, with Amazon and Nestlé having already signed contracts.
The East Midlands benefits from having significant green space, with over 88% of the region being rural, which is particularly good for families who enjoy escaping the hustle and bustle of inner-city living. Northamptonshire alone boasts six council-owned country parks, each with walking trails, playgrounds and various organised activities for children.
House prices in the East Midlands are the fastest growing in the UK, up 12% on 2015. This is likely due to the ongoing investments by businesses moving to the area, and also due to many people working in London moving to areas such as Wellingborough and Kettering, balancing the commute with cheaper real estate. Rightmove reports that the average house price in the past year was £203,351.
Rutland, having been voted the UK’s third best place to live in 2017 in the annual Halifax study, tops the charts with an average price of £330,859, while Lincolnshire was the cheapest at £182,271. These figures may be skewed by detached houses being the highest selling home type during this period though, as the average East Midlands terraced home was only £146,666.
Leicester is the largest city in the East Midlands, with a population just over 443,000 (according to the 2011 census). The city intersects two main railway lines, the north/south Midland Main Line, and the east/west Cross Country Line.
The city is also home to the National Space Centre, a favourite with families. Leicester is a hub of multiculturalism, with 33.6% of its residents being from abroad, compared to 9.9% in the East Midlands as a whole. This gives the city a diverse range of eateries, shops and cultures.
Average house prices in Leicester are £206,054, with a detached home averaging £310,615 and a terraced home averaging £161,917.
According to the 2011 census, the city of Nottingham was home to 290,000 people, a figure now thought to be closer to 310,000. A city of many facets, in 2015 it was named both the ‘Home of English Sport’ and a UNESCO ‘City of Literature’. Nottingham is investing heavily in its future, with programmes aimed at diversifying arts and culture, and the council targeting low-carbon technologies. The city is well served by public transport and is home to two universities. With a rich history, Nottingham is a great place to live.
Average house prices in Nottingham are £189,915, with a detached home averaging £288,332 and a terraced home averaging £130,884.
The West Midlands encompasses the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands (county) and Worcestershire. It is
one of the most densely populated regions in the UK, with 430 people per square kilometre, compared to the East Midlands, for example, which has only 290 people per square kilometre. This is due, in part, to it covering a smaller landmass but having large populations in cities which include Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
The birthplace of the industrial revolution, the West Midlands has a large employment sector in metal production and transport equipment. The Jaguar Land Rover factory employs 10,000 workers, but with uncertainty over Brexit,
these roles aren’t as stable as they once were.
One of the largest sectors of employment in the West Midlands is the food industry. Bulmers, Cadbury, Tyrrells, Müller Dairy, Marmite, Coors and Marston’s are all food and beverage manufacturers that call the West Midlands home.
The second largest city in England, at the last census, Birmingham had a population of 1.086 million people. Much like London, the service sector provides the majority of employment, but it is also the largest centre of employment in education, health and public administration. It is a vibrant, modern city with plenty of culture and lots to do for families, including the Sea Life Centre, Thinktank Science Museum and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Average house prices in Birmingham are £189,793, with a semi-detached home averaging £201,986 and a flat averaging £152,687.
The ninth largest city in the UK, Coventry is a modern, architecturally interesting city that has won multiple awards for its design. The city has traditionally been a hub of vehicle manufacturing but is now more likely to be manufacturing agricultural machinery and machine tools. There is also a growing economy in business and financial services.
For families with vehicle-mad kids, The Coventry Transport Museum and Midland Air Museum will both be big hits.
Average house prices in Coventry are £195,280, with a detached home averaging £341,243 and a terraced home averaging £166,163.
The Midlands is a varied region with great transport links and includes a great mix of cities, towns and rural areas. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the urban jungle or relax in a quiet village setting, you’ll find it in the Midlands.