How I learned to stop worrying and love Birmingham

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Yesterday marked a whole year of me living in Birmingham. I love it and I’m staying. Here’s why…


Before I moved here, to me Birmingham was just a name with a bad reputation, a city of council flats, unemployment and criminals. When explaining my plan to move to Brum, a lot of my friends and family asked, “why”? I often found myself asking the same question. Why am I moving to a city I barely know, with a bad reputation and had a half finished business plan to become a freelance filmmaker there? Why not London, I talk about that here.

According to figures produced by the Office for National Statistics, 58,220 people aged between 30 and 39 left London from 2012 to 2013. It is the highest number on record. In the space of just one year, some 5,480 people, moved to Brum from the capital, making it the most attractive city for Londoners. Next was Bristol, some way off at 3,290, followed by Manchester with 3,260, Nottingham with 2,990 and Oxford with 2,720.

But it wasn’t the numbers that won me over, I’m not following a crowd of people. In the end, Birmingham won through on merit, and not because I felt any sense of loyalty or belonging. Birmingham made me the best offer. There was no promise of a better paid job. I didn’t have a job to go to. Birmingham won through house prices, culture, restaurants and bars. It also offered space, and opportunities for freelancers. Most importantly, though, it did it through aspiration. It’s a city on the move and I get to contribute. I think this says a lot about the opportunities presented by smaller cities like Birmingham, and should serve as food for thought for anyone in London who feel priced out of their current neighborhood. There is so much potential here, it just needs a critical mass of risk takers to give it a chance.

If you’re a fellow filmmaker intrigued about the prospect of moving to Birmingham, hop on a train (we have great transport links to the whole country) and come for a chat. Just be aware that it might be the start of a whole new adventure.

Birmingham isn’t the best city in the UK, but it wants to be, and I love that.

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