From London to Los Angeles, the resurgence of city centre living has turned property markets on their heads and revolutionised the way people live, work and play. Where not so long ago the bustle of day led to the emptiness of night, contemporary metropolitan lifestyles have transformed inner cities into vibrant quarters of modern urbanites from almost every field imaginable, with nary a thought of catching the last bus home.
Birmingham was a little late to the party, but its ever-growing cache of city centre homes now includes everything from starter studios to sharp apartments to massive warehouse conversions. The city’s emerging creative scene is generating a new breed of live/work developments and, with academy schools like Perry Beeches raising the bar for education in the city centre, families are now taking up residence in the stylish contemporary town houses being built to cater for this new demand.
And at the core of this new-found enthusiasm is Birmingham’s revitalised heart, now the busiest shopping centre in the UK and as unrecognisable as its new population. No longer dead after 6pm, its streets are alive with a nourishing culinary and cultural scene, with food, theatre and music from around the world, and all within walking distance of home. Living in Downtown Brum has never been so exciting.
Stage and screen
Your favourite band, the latest flick, top-notch theatre and orchestral nirvana are all playing on the doorstep. Places like The Birmingham Rep – fresh from its makeover; The Electric – Britain’s oldest working cinema; Symphony Hall – considered the UK’s finest concert auditorium; Jam House – Jools Holland’s rollickin’ good gig joint and countless others, ensure the city centre’s gamut of independent and national venues utterly rocks.
Wherever your night begins and wherever you might end up, the city centre’s canals and towpaths, arcades and squares, Victorian grandeur and industrial heritage make the bedtime saunter a beautiful and surprising adventure. It’s hard to beat walking home from dinner at The Mailbox, or a last minute purchase from the Great Western Arcade, or a drink after work at Brindley Place. And think about a day of shopping at The Bull Ring: no struggling back to the car or shuffling onto a bus laden with bags. Whatever you get up to, you can just wander home, at your leisure.
From art to theatre, Pride to fine food, and of course the UK’s largest outdoor Christmas market, Birmingham’s middle bulges with a seriously packed year-round calendar of regular and special events, fairs and festivals. And you can be utterly spontaneous! There’s no need to plan anything when you already live in the city centre; every event is happening all around you. So you can live a last-minute lifestyle of the highest order, without ever being late.
The downtown clutch of watering holes and eateries meets every occasion: happy hour, Sunday roast, romantic date, brunch and friends. Birmingham’s eating and drinking scene is well and truly stuffed with a unique bunch of more than palatable options from local entrepreneurs, serving up great food from every corner of the globe, plus a goodly measure of cocktail bars, pubs and hybrids. But be warned! The walk home will never be long enough to burn off that dessert.