Relocation – West Midlands
The West Midlands includes the cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Stoke-on Trent as well as county towns such as Worcester and Shrewsbury. In the second part of our series exploring The Midlands, we discuss how each area has its own personality and attraction for Service leavers seeking to relocate post-Service.
By Gary Buswell
Although it might not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking of relocation opportunities, the West Midlands offers exciting potential to Service leavers looking for a fresh start. The region is considered the UK’s new growth capital and last year unveiled around £10 billion of investment taking place in the coming years. Here are some of the best places to consider moving to.
The UK’s second largest city, Birmingham is the heart of the West Midlands and will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. With the HS2 network set to improve the city’s transport infrastructure, it’s a great time to consider relocation opportunities.
Once one of the UK’s most important industrial cities, Birmingham is now dominated by a sizeable service sector which provides around 88% of jobs. Many of these are in areas such as public administration, finance, education, health and retail, with skills highly valued including managerial, communications, IT and customer service. Big employers include National Express, Severn Trent Water and HSBC. Manufacturing still provides plenty of jobs too, with Jaguar Land Rover and Cadbury having a strong presence.
Birmingham also has an abundance of exhibition spaces, including the National Exhibition Centre and the International Conference Centre, and accounts for 42% of the UK’s exhibition trade.
The majority of property sales in Birmingham at the moment are terraced homes which sell for an average of £169,880. Semi-detached properties average at £211,783 and flats sell for around £167,868. The overall average price for Birmingham properties is £201,184. Homes in the centre sell for just over £200,000, cheaper than nearby Edgbaston (£319,054) and Selly Park (£293,654). Good areas to move to include Mosely (voted best place for city living in the Sunday Times in 2015), Edgbaston (popular with families) and Sutton Coldfield.
With six universities in the city, Birmingham is unsurprisingly a vibrant place teeming with nightclubs, trendy restaurants and entertainment venues. Broad Street is the epicentre for nightlife. There are also a number of major shopping centres and areas (including the Bullring, the Mailbox and Jewellery Quarter) and big sports venues (Barclaycard Arena, Alexander Stadium, Villa Park, Belfry Golf Course). For art lovers, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has an extensive collection of paintings dating back to the 14th century and antiquities from ancient times onward.
Perhaps most famous for its rebuilding after being heavily bombed during the Second World War, Coventry was recently voted one of the top 10 places to live and work in the UK by PwC and will be the UK City of Culture in 2021.
Coventry has historically had an important motor and manufacturing industry and is still home to key automobile producers including the RDM group, which has been working on pioneering driverless cars. There has been much regeneration in the city over the past couple of decades. The main industries today include business services, finance, logistics, leisure and research. The biggest employers include Coventry University and KM&T, with many job opportunities also available in nearby Wolverhampton.
Terraced properties are the most popular in Coventry, currently selling for an average of £172,028. Semidetached homes sell for an average of £221,584 and detached properties fetch around £336, 238. The overall average house price for Coventry is currently £202,346. More expensive nearby areas include Meriden (£345,746) and Hampton In Arden (£482,955). One of the most sought-after areas is Earlsdon, which is a suburban neighbourhood with a village feel.
Coventry is another West Midlands student haven with two universities and plenty of bars, restaurants, pubs and shopping districts geared towards younger residents. Popular tourist attractions include Coventry Cathedral, Coventry Transport Museum and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, while the Coventry Canal Basin is a renowned location for its countryside art trail.
Located in the northern part of the West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent is known as the ‘city of five towns’ and is now an attractive relocation option having overcome an economic decline in the 1980s and 1990s.
Stoke is well-known for its pottery industry which has been producing since the 17th century. Although not as powerful as it once was, well-known makers such as Royal Doulton and Wedgwood are still based there. Although the once big coal and steel industries have declined, the city is one of the fastest growing areas of the UK with the manufacturing and service sectors both performing well. Among the companies with a strong presence are Michelin Tyres, bet365, Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative Group. Stoke has also been ranked the 2nd best place in the UK to start a business according to a 2016 study.
Semi-detached properties are the most popular in Stoke-on- Trent, selling for an average price of £133,870. Terraced homes average at £90, 731 and detached properties at £223,144. The overall average property price currently stands at £139,586. This is cheaper than nearby areas Endon (£281,056), Newcastle-under-Lyme (£159,388) and Cheddleton (220,988).
The city has a popular shopping centre (the Potteries), some good music venues (including the Sugarmill and the Underground) and areas offering night-time entertainment. Hanley is popular for nightlife, featuring an array of clubs, pubs, restaurants and theatres. There are four museums in the city showcasing artefacts from Stoke’s industrial history. For family entertainment, Alton Towers is only a short drive away.
Other popular West Midlands locations
- Wolverhampton – the 4th biggest city in the West Midlands region and crowned the 6th best place for families to live in the UK in 2015.
- Stratford-Upon-Avon – this attractive market town is famous for being Shakespeare’s birthplace and has plenty of jobs in the tourism and IT sectors.
- Warwick – its good location with strong links to both north and south means that many big companies have head offices there, including IBM, Volvo and the National Grid.
- Solihull – just south-east of Birmingham, one of the most affluent towns in the UK outside of London.
- Telford – one of the fastest-growing towns in the UK with a strongly developing IT service sector.