Living in Birmingham: Unknown Hidden Gems Revealed

Apr 12 2024

Are you looking for flats to rent in Birmingham, or considering a move to the city? It’s known and loved by many people – mostly for its community spirit, cultural diversity, heritage and thriving food scene. Plus, Birmingham has excellent, fast transport links to major cities in the UK, like London, Manchester and Liverpool – making it a great place to live.

But there’s so much more to Birmingham than this, and don’t just take our word for it – we interviewed seven Birmingham locals to delve into:

  • The best things about living in Birmingham
  • Its food scene and unique restaurants
  • Places to visit and things to do
  • The myths and misconceptions about the city, and what people should know about it

“One thing I love about Birmingham is the food scene. The city is like a melting pot of different cultures and you can taste that in the diverse food offerings. You can get British pub grub or mouthwatering dishes from all corners of the world. I’d especially recommend trying a Balti curry and visiting the annual Frankfurt Christmas Markets.” – Jenny Leonard, 26, Birmingham City Centre

Designed for those who want to work, live and play all under one roof, Corkfield has cultivated a vibrant, close-knit community, right on the edge of the city in Edgbaston. We offer 375 beautifully-created studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments in the heart of Edgbaston.

To find out more, book a viewing or get in touch with us here.

The Best Things About Living in Birmingham

We wanted to find out some of the lesser-known benefits of living in Birmingham. What better way to find out than asking the Birmingham residents themselves? Amongst the answers we got, we found out that the best parts of Birmingham include:

  • Cultural diversity
  • The rich history and fascinating architecture
  • Proximity to other big cities in the UK
  • Lower cost of living
  • Diverse career opportunities
  • Connectivity and convenient transportation
  • Amazing and unique food spots and bars
  • Residential buildings with modern amenities
  • Local parks and walking spots
  • Sport centres
  • Quirky boutique shops, cafes and bars

If you’re keen to find out more, read on!

‘One of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK’

Jack Howell, 23, and from Small Heath, said: “As someone who’s lived in Birmingham their whole life, I think it offers a unique blend of history, culture and quirks that makes it a fascinating place to live. It’s one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK – there are lots of communities, languages and traditions.

“It has a rich industrial heritage and architecture. Its historical canals and Victorian buildings like the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery means the city’s history is woven into its growing, urban landscape.”

Haley Morrison, 33, and from Handsworth, said: “The best thing about living in Birmingham and raising a family here is the access to other cultures. You grow up around a wide range of ethnicities and nationalities, and you learn so much from others from an early age.”

Lower cost of living

Aleksandra Saleh, 33 and living in Sheldon, said: “The best thing about living in Birmingham for me, is being in the middle of England – it’s close to the north, close to London, and close to Wales. But it’s cheaper than the south, and there are still lots of work opportunities.”

Haley Morrison, 33, and from Handsworth, said: ”The city is special to me because it’s home, and I get a better, smaller version of London, for half the price. I’ve got that ‘city feel’, but I can walk down the road and be closer to nature in the middle of fields.”

All of these great things about the city are attracting residents from all over the world. Brandon moved to the city centre from the US, after visiting more than 10 times – he also echoed the convenience of Birmingham’s location.

Convenience and connectivity

Brandon Smith, 35, living in the city centre, said: “For me, the best thing is the convenience. You can get to a majority of the UK’s largest cities, like Manchester, Liverpool or London, in two-and-a-half hours or less. The public transport and rail infrastructure is top notch, with well-connected routes to many places.

“When the HS2 railway lines are built, it’s going to open the city up to even more demand and create more economic power.”

Sitting at the heart of the high-speed rail network, HS2 will connect Birmingham City Centre to London and the rest of the network, from the new Curzon Street Station – which will be one of the most environmentally friendly stations in the world. It’s reported HS2 will cut the journey between Birmingham and London from 1hr 21 min to to 45 minutes.

Food, people and community

Finally, as someone born and bred in Birmingham, Jenny said the people and the food are two of the best things about living in the city.

Jenny Leonard, 26, and living in Birmingham City Centre, said: “One thing I love about Birmingham is the food scene. The city is like a melting pot of different cultures and you can taste that in the diverse food offerings. You can get British pub grub or mouthwatering dishes from all corners of the world. I’d especially recommend trying a Balti curry and visiting the annual Frankfurt Christmas Markets.

“But what truly sets Birmingham apart from other places is its people. The sense of community here is incredible, and you’ll always feel like you belong. Brummies are known as some of the friendliest, most welcoming folks you’ll ever meet. Warmth is our currency and that’s proven with our retention of diversity.”

Those looking for flats to rent in Birmingham might want to consider flats to rent in Edgbaston – which is a 15-minute drive, or 24-minute journey away on public transport. This suburb offers easy access to the city, so residents can still soak up everything it has to offer.

The Food Scene: Unique Restaurants in Birmingham

Now this is where you won’t be short of options. Our Brummie locals have dished up their thoughts on the thriving food scene – and the best areas and restaurants to visit in the city for meals that you won’t forget.

Charlie Meyler, 28 and from Stourbridge, said: “One thing I wish people knew about Birmingham is that outside of London, Birmingham has the most restaurants with Michelin Stars. Both Adams and Carters are two of these amazing restaurants and have modern, British menus. For something a bit more down and dirty, you can’t go wrong with Original Patty Men, which has three sites in Birmingham and is an American, comfort food-style burger place.”

Jonathan Schokman, 37 who lives in Birmingham City Centre, said: “My favourite food spots are Qavali, which is an Indo-Persian restaurant and cocktail bar on Broad Street, and The Coconut Tree, which is a Sri-Lankan restaurant on Gas Street.

“I’m the general manager there, but it’s always a favourite of mine because of the authenticity of the food. Being Sri Lankan myself, I can’t help but feel nostalgic because of the atmosphere, hospitality and that special feeling the taste of the food brings. It reminds me of my mum’s cooking back home.”

Exploring multi-cultural restaurants in Birmingham

Birmingham’s very own ‘Balti Triangle’ is also popular with our locals. It received it’s legendary status due to a large number of restaurants in the area serving up curries using the uniquely Birmingham, balti technique. The Balti Triangle is situated between Stratford Road, Alcester Road and Wake Green Road, and offers a mouthwatering selection of South Asian food.

Haley’s favourite food spot is Asha’s on Newhall Street, according to her, rumour has it that actor Tom Cruise likes it too. It’s a contemporary Indian restaurant owned by famous Hindi actress, Asha Bhosle.

Moving away from Indian food now, Brandon comes with recommendations for Caribbean, Chinese and Italian food. He said: “My favourite food spots are Adian’s Tropical Fusion which serves Caribbean dishes, Lucarelli’s which is Italian, and Mrs Chews which is Chinese.

“One of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Birmingham is Adian’s. It’s a bit off the beaten

path, and it’s reasonably priced with a great variety of delicious foods.”

Aleksandra says that Moseley High Street is a great food place, as well as the industrial area in digbeth.

Hidden foodie spots you never knew about

When it comes to the best-hidden food spot in Birmingham Jack vouches for the Hockley Social Club in the Jewellery Quarter. He said: “It offers such a wide range of street food, drinks and social activities, I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Birmingham.

“The food scene is one of the best things about living in Birmingham. Because of the city’s cultural diversity, it offers a wide range of cuisines from around the world, including traditional English cuisine along with Indian Caribbean food.”

Hockley Social Club is a former 10,000-square-foot printing factory that is now a street food venue. It’s a relaxed dining food hall, bar, event space coffee shop, late-night hangout and record store.

And Jenny’s recommendation is Saqibs Kebab House on Aston Lane. She added: “To me, it’s the best kebab house in England and it won’t ask you to empty your purse.

“All the best food I’ve ever had has been in Birmingham – we have the best curries, an incredible range of Italian food and more recently a wonderful selection of South American-infused foods. A couple of years ago I even had the privilege of enjoying an ostrich burger!”

Places to Visit and Things To Do in Birmingham

As well as a bustling food scene, there are also plenty of attractions and beauty spots to be adored, in and around Birmingham.

Tours, attractions and activities

The first one, however, does still involve food! Restaurant manager Jonathan said: “I’d say one of the best things to do in Birmingham is The Restaurant Tour, a tour that takes you to six of the city’s top restaurants all in one day, so you can wine and dine on their top dishes.”

One of Jack’s favourite places to visit is Digbeth. According to him, it’s a vibrant place that features some of the best and unique cafes, restaurants and bars in the centre of Birmingham. Once the city’s industrial heartland, it’s now home to The Custard Factory – which is a creative hub. Inside this former Bird’s Custard building, there are indeed hip and trendy bars, independent shops, galleries and cafes.

In Digbeth, there are also several activity bars, Birmingham’s oldest pub The Old Crown, colourful street art, and much more. According to Haley, the area has completely reformed central Birmingham.

Jenny recommends immersing yourself in the history at Aston Hall – a beautifully preserved, Grade I-listed Jacobean mansion. Watch out though, it’s also said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK. There are more than 30 rooms to explore and a history spanning 400 years.

Scenic walks and architecture

Haley also recommends walking spots around Beacon Hill, Sandwell Valley and Swan Pool. Sutton Park, which has plenty of walking trails with scenic views, also comes recommended for a stroll. It’s a 2,400-acre National Nature Reserve.

From Corkfield, you can see impressive Edgbaston Stadium, Cannon Hill Park and Birmingham city centre – as we balance urban life with natural living. Edgbaston Stadium has sweeping architecture and is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club.

Cannon Hill Park is just three minutes from Corkfield and is one of the finest examples of cultivated natural space in the West Midlands. There are outdoor sports, games and rides, shows, exhibitions, crafts and wildlife.

Jenny suggests people also visit Edgbaston Reservoir – a 70-acre open-water site perfect for walkers, nature lovers and those who want to try sailing and rowing.

Shopping centres and independent shops

Aleksandra said: “There are places with soul like Cannon Hill Park, the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), and Moseley Village.” Moseley Village is a square filled with independent shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

One area not to be forgotten is The Jewellery Quarter, described as a national treasure, and it has more than 100 shops. Charlie said: “It’s the ‘cool and edgy’ part of the city, like the Northern Quarter is in Manchester, and has a lot of great independent shops, galleries, bars, restaurants and yes – jewellery shops.”

Birmingham has more than 35 miles of canals, so there are many lovely canal walks you can take throughout the city.

Corkfield residents get exclusive discounts to some of the best places

At Corkfield, we also celebrate the amazing independents that you’ll find in Birmingham, Edgbaston and beyond. We’ve partnered with some of the very best and brightest, proudly known as our ‘Neighbourhood Heroes’. As a resident in one of our apartments, you’ll get exclusive discounts and treats straight from these businesses, spanning excellent eateries, dining destinations and shopping spots.

Busting the Myths about Birmingham: What We Wish People Knew About the City

There are many myths and misconceptions about Birmingham – as there are about most cities. Our locals have told us what they wish people knew about it.

The accent is not all that bad!

Aleksandra said: “One of the biggest myths is that the Brummie accent is hard to understand, I don’t think it is. It’s characteristic, but not as hard to understand as, say, the Scottish accent.”

Haley added: “I think the biggest misconception is people assume the Birmingham accent is the Black Country accent, it’s completely different!”

When it comes to the music scene, Jonathan said: “I wish more people knew Bands like UB40, Duran Duran, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest all come from Birmingham. It still has an amazing music scene.”

Charlie noted “I think some people hear our accent and feel like it gives them the right to mock Birmingham, without knowing much about it. But it’s a working-class city in a region that’s had a huge impact on the wider nation.”

‘There’s nothing to do’

Charlie added the biggest misconception about Birmingham that isn’t true, is that it’s dull or ‘there’s nothing there’: “On face value it might seem like it’s full of office blocks, like most cities are, but scratch beneath the surface and there’s so much to be appreciated and enjoyed.

“It sounds cliché, but Peaky Blinders has really put Birmingham on the map. It helped to carve an identity out for the city in a way that hadn’t really been done before. Of course, Birmingham isn’t just one TV show, it’s a city full of people and varied cultures.”

Brandon thinks that Birmingham gets a hard time in the press, and said: “In my personal experience, the city is safe and people are friendly. It’s easy to get caught up in stereotypes and clichés.”

Jenny said some funny myths involve Cadbury’s World and the iconic Bull: “There’s a myth that the air in Birmingham smells like chocolate because of the chocolate factory. Another one is that if you stroke the bronze Bull statue it brings you good luck, people come from all over to make a wish.”

Next year, an art trail celebrating the iconic Bull is coming to the city.

Stereotypes and negative views of the community

Jenny added: “The biggest misconception is that Birmingham is a miserable city and we, its citizens, are all miserable too. I think this exists partly because we live in a concrete jungle, and more humorously because of how drawly and downbeat our accents can be. It isn’t for everyone but we’re some of the friendliest, community-led people around.

“Unfortunately, negative stereotypes can overshadow the city’s true character. But let me tell you, those who take the time to visit and experience Birmingham first-hand are often pleasantly surprised by its charm and vibrancy.”

Jack said a common myth about Birmingham is that it has more canals than Venice: “The city of Birmingham only has six canals, while Venice has more than 150.

“In my opinion, like any other major city, Birmingham is not immune to issues like crime and urban neglect, which can contribute to negative portrayals in the media. But it’s essential to recognise Birmingham is a diverse and dynamic city with much to offer.”

Where to Live in Birmingham

Designed for those who want to work, live and play all under one roof, Corkfield has cultivated a vibrant, close-knit community, right on the edge of the city in Edgbaston. We offer 375 beautifully-created studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments in the heart of Edgbaston.

Whether you’re working solo or feeling social, our lounges are created for life both on and off the clock, with co-working spaces designed for productivity and good company. That includes pooch pods, so your four-legged friends are never far away!

When day turns to night, why not retreat into our private dining room? Designed for getting together with friends old and new, or taking the evening to new heights with a beautifully created sky terrace and podium gardens for when you need to get back to nature.

Sometimes you need more than a home. So when you need a home that brings together every aspect of modern living, Corkfield is the perfect base.

To find out more, book a viewing or get in touch with us here.

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