Many people still think of Birmingham as a city of industry and little else. Today, the UK’s second city has been transformed into a place of culture, green spaces and is welcoming businesses both from the UK and internationally.
If you are considering moving to Birmingham, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the UK’s second city.
Quick Birmingham Facts:
- Population: 1,111,307 (2017 estimate), 3.8 million in the Greater Metropolitan area, most ethnically diverse city in the UK.
- Official Language: English (de facto) with 108 languages being spoken in schools, including Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and many others.
- GDP Per Capita: $46,296.98 USD
- Youthful Population: 45.7% of Birmingham’s population is under 30
- Currency: Pound Sterling or Great Britain Pound (£, GBP). As of early 2017, $1 USD = £0.80, €1 EUR = £0.85, $1 CAD = £0.61, $1 AUD = £0.62
1. Moving & Shipping Costs to Birmingham
Since Birmingham is located roughly in the middle of the UK, it’s relatively affordable to move there from elsewhere in the UK. However since it lacks its own port, shipping from overseas can be a little more expensive.
Here are some sample 2017 International Container Shipping Rates & Costs to Birmingham, UK from other major world cities:
|New York, USA||£968||£1,445|
Note:The prices listed above are sample shipping costs only and do not cover all moving costs. To better understand international moving costs have a look at our guide: International Moving Costs: 9 Things You Can’t Ignore.
2. Birmingham Housing Costs
Compared with other major cities in the world, house and flat and flat prices in Birmingham are reasonable. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Birmingham
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: £550+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: £340+
- 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: £900+
- 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: £650+
Birmingham Home Purchase Prices
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: £2,850
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: N/A
Birmingham Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in Birmingham compare with other cities around the globe.
London is 170.09% more expensive
New York is 283.04% more expensive
Los Angeles is 155.39% more expensive
Toronto is 55.66% more expensive
Sydney is 153.95% more expensive
Paris is 60.64% more expensive
Dubai is 181.17% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share a flat or house. Birmingham is a city with many large Victorian houses that offer house shares. With a house share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house. There are many flats available for shared rental as well. Have a look on Birmingham’s Gumtree page, SpareRoom or Easyroommate and find someone you can get on with to share the costs with you.
- Different areas & different prices. Like all cities, Birmingham has its expensive and cheaper areas. Areas like Sutton Coldfield and Solihull tend to be the most expensive. Edgbaston and Mosely are reasonably priced and Mosely was voted best place to live in the UK for city living in 2015. It is full of large Victorian houses, leafy streets and parks. Kings Heath, Selly Oak and Bourneville (of Cadbury’s chocolate fame) are more affordable and relatively close to Birmingham University and other tertiary education institutions. The city centre has a combination of new expensive flat complexes and flats that need a little work: the rents obviously reflect the comfort of the flats.
3. Birmingham Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Brummies, as Birmingham residents are affectionately known, love their food and, with the wide range nationalities in the city, there is a diverse selection of foods and restaurants to choose from.
However, do note that with the recent decline in sterling, a lot of imported food has increased in price, which has obviously pushed up restaurant prices.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: £8.00 – £16.00
- Takeout Coffee: £1.70 – £3.00
- Bottle of Coke: £0.70 – £1.50
- 1L of milk: £0.50 – £1.00
- Loaf of Bread: £0.62 – £1.20
- 12 Eggs: £1.25 – £2.35
- 1kg Chicken £4.00 – £5.90
- 1kg Beef: £5.00 – £10.00
- 1kg Apples: £1.00 – £3.00
- 1kg White Rice: £0.60 – £2.00
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 46.57% more expensive and groceries are 93.46% more expensive than Birmingham.
- Toronto restaurants are 1.78% cheaper and groceries are 22.98% more expensive than Birmingham.
- Sydney restaurants are 8.71% more expensive and groceries are 53.88% more expensive than Birmingham.
- Paris restaurants are 15.02% more expensive and groceries are 44.64% more expensive than Birmingham.
- Dubai restaurants are 4.01% cheaper and groceries are 11.91% more expensive than Birmingham.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: The UK has a large selection of supermarkets and other stores to suit every income level and palate. For those with a large food budget there is M&S, Waitrose, and Ocado (online only). For those on a smaller budget, there’s Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. The cheapest options include Aldi, Lidl, ASDA and Iceland.
- Find Cheap Eats: TimeOut, Tripadvisor and The Guardian all have their own guides to cheap eats in Birmingham, which include everything from traditional Indian curries to Mexican fusion.
4. Birmingham Alcohol Costs
Birmingham is renowned for its friendly pubs, bars, clubs and nightclubs. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: £2.80 – £3.85
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: £2.00 – £4.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: £1.00 – £2.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: £1.00 – £2.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: £5.00 – £8.00
How to drink for less in Birmingham
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Many pubs have Happy Hour after work, some from 5.00 pm until 9.00 pm and all day Sunday. Try The Victoria on John Bright Street, Revolution on Broad Street and the Chameleon on Hill Street for their Happy Hour specials. Turtle Bay on John Bright Street has Happy Hour for all of its opening hours except from 7.00 p.m. until 10.00 p.m.
- Scour the areas around Birmingham University and other tertiary institutions to find the best alcohol deals.
5. Birmingham Transportation Fares
Birmingham has an excellent transport system of buses, trains and the Midland Metro. Network West Midlands allows you to plan your journey with online timetables and the ability to buy tickets online. It is situated in the heart of the country and is at the centre of the UK’s road and rail network.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult Single (Stage 1) Midland Metro – £2.60
- One day ticket for bus, tram and train – £8.50
- Monthly season ticket for bus, tram and train – £85
- 1st class monthly season ticket – £125.50
- Yearly season ticket for bus, tram and train – £1,020 – £1,510
How to save money on public transport
- Use Swift Pay As You Go and your day ticket will cost £8.30
- Buy a Network Daytripper and travel after 09.30 for £6.60
- Buy a bike. There is good system of cycle lanes all around the city
- The city is not that big and exercise is always good.
6. Cost of Internet in Birmingham
Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2017 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12 month contract:
- Sky: £18.99 a month (Standard Broadband up to 17mb)
- TalkTalk: £20 a month (Standard Broadband up to 17mb)
- BT: £24.49 a month (Standard Broadband up to 17mb)
- Virgin Media: £32.25 a month (Fibre up to 50mb)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
The climate in Birmingham is relatively mild, with a summer temperature average of 17°C. February is the coldest month, where the average temperature is around 3°C. January is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 70mm.
Like most places in the UK, rain is always a possibility, so it’s wise to carry an umbrella or a fold up waterproof jacket.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: £38 – £70
- Summer Dress: £20 – £40
- Running Shoes (Trainers): £45 – £75
- Business Shoes: £35 – £65
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): £65
- Deodorant: £2.00
- Shampoo: £4.00
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): £1.75
- Gym membership: £20 – £30 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: £7 – £9.50
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Birmingham
Everyone in the UK, including in Birmingham, drives on the left. Driving in Birmingham is relatively easy but parking is expensive.
If you’re moving to Birmingham from within the UK, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new Birmingham one.
If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here. Note that you will need to prove you took your driving test in a manual transmission car. If you can’t prove it, you’ll only be able to exchange your license for an automatic.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Birmingham:
- Volkswagen Golf: £16,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol): £1.10
- Registration fee (if any): £55 one time
- Other fees (if any): No more than £54.85 for an MOT fee, after cars are 3 years old.
Ways to save money on driving in Birmingham
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Bla Bla Car or Liftshare.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Birmingham
No matter where you live in the UK, you will pay the same rate of tax. To learn more about the different taxes – income, self-employment, business, capital gains etc, have a look at our moving to the United Kingdom guide.
Sales Tax, or VAT (Value Added Tax) is 20% in the UK and is added to most goods and services throughout the country. Unlike some countries, it is always included in the marked price.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will be subject to council tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about council tax in Birmingham at Birmingham Tax.
Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Birmingham you’ll have to pay stamp duty. While there’s no tax on the first £125,000 of your home value, the marginal rate increases to 12% on a value of over £1.5 million.
10. Flight Costs from Birmingham
If you do make the move to Birmingham, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:
- New York: £191
- Los Angeles: £217
- Toronto: £257
- Vancouver: £225
- Dubai: £74
- Sydney: £390
- Melbourne: £350
- Cape Town: £452
- Hong Kong: £223
Other Tips on Moving to Birmingham
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Birmingham but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Birmingham Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling into Birmingham.
- Meetups: Birmingham has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup.com. Find groups for walking, entrepreneurs, football fans and more.
- Attend local events: There are tons of events going in Birmingham at any given time. Find out what’s going on from Visit Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, Eventbrite, TimeOut and Skiddle,
12. Moving to Birmingham with a Family
Birmingham has a lot to offer families. It has lots of parks and kiddy oriented activities. It is also close to lots of beautiful countryside and historical sites. Here’s some extra food for thought.
- New parents (or parents to be): Check out the local NCT courses and NCT events.
- Live in a family friendly area: The best areas for families include: Blackwell, Halesowen, Sutton Coldfield, Redditch, Tamworth, Solihull, Wythall, Alvechurch, Curdworth, and Knowle.
- Find things to do with the kids: Day Out With The Kids, Visit Birmingham and the Birmingham Mail all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Birmingham for Work
Moving to Birmingham for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Birmingham does have job opportunities but obviously nowhere near as many as London.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Birmingham are not as high as in London and other major cities in the world. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoorand Payscale.
- How to find work:If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Birmingham, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Monster, Total Jobs, Gumtree, Reed.co.uk and Indeed. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Birmingham from Australia
There are very few Australians living in Birmingham, most head to London.
However, as London is only a short train ride from Brum, you can meet some of 56,000 living in London with the greatest of ease.
- Size comparison: While Birmingham is the UK’s second most populous city, its population is only 1.1 million which means that it’s closer in population to Adelaide rather than Melbourne. Even the Metro area’s population of 3.7 million makes it smaller than either Melbourne or Sydney.
- Join expat groups: Both InterNations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Birmingham.
15. Moving to Birmingham from Canada
While you won’t find a huge number of Canadians living in Birmingham, there are a few. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: Birmingham’s population in the city proper is slightly less than Calgary’s but’s metro population is just slightly smaller than Montreal’s.
- Expat groups: You won’t find many Canadian expat groups in Birmingham, although InterNations does have one and there is also the North American Connection organization for Americans and Candians living in the West Midlands.
16. Moving to Birmingham from the United States
Birmingham doesn’t seem to attract many Americans, as they generally prefer to go to London. However, there still some some who make the move. If you’re considering it, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: Birmingham’s population is roughly the same as San Jose, California, although the metro area has roughly the same number of people as the greater Seattle metropolitan region.
- Expat groups: The North American Connection organization helps Americans and Canadians living in the West Midlands to integrate into British society along with hosting a range of social activities. InterNations and Expats Blog also both have resources for Americans moving to and living in Birmingham.
- Not Alabama: Your American friends may be slightly confused about exactly which Birmingham you’ve moved to, so be prepared to explain that there’s a Birmingham in the UK along with one in Alabama.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Birmingham you can start by comparing moving quotes here.
Guides to moving and living in other UK cities