Where to live around Birmingham?

(77 Posts)
Baroozer Tue 02-Apr-13 20:51:07

DH has got a job in the centre of Birmingham so we are going to be moving to that area. Neither of us wants to live in Birmingham, but DH doesn't want a massive commute (40 minutes max, and he'll be travelling in at 7am and out at 7pm so he should hopefully avoid rush hour).

We have DC (oldest is 9) so we're looking for a decent primary school, a decent secondary (it doesn't have to be a grammar) and a friendly neighbourhood. If there was a reasonable gymnastics club nearby that would be a bonus.

DH used to live in Stafford as a child and does not want to go back there for some unfathomable reason. He prefers Worcestershire and Warwickshire, but we can be flexible (apart from the Stafford thing).

Thanks in advance.

Flossiechops Tue 02-Apr-13 21:27:34

Hi there, we live in Sutton Coldfield why h is around 7 miles out of the city. There are a lot of outstanding rated schools in the area as well as grammar schools. My dc are 9 & 8 so still in primary - there is a well used leisure centre in the area as well as a 2500 acre park which we use a lot. We also have friends in Solihull which is also lovely but further out from the city, I would have a drive round and get a feel for areas. Good luck I'm sure you will like it smile

MrsJamin Tue 02-Apr-13 21:43:37

Shenstone is on the train line to Birmingham new street but is a lovely medium-sized village. Quite a few expensive houses but some more affordable ones?

onedev Tue 02-Apr-13 21:52:23

We're in Solihull - v easy train links (10 mins) to Birmingham & excellent schools. Good luck with the move. smile


formicaqueen Tue 02-Apr-13 23:35:48

Kenilworth is a lovely small town (Kenilworth school), Warwick is larger (Myton school), Ardon School knowle/Solihull way is good but Solihull still feels on the edge of the city, Stratford upon avon and Leamington spa are both attractive towns.

CocoNutter Wed 03-Apr-13 08:44:11

I second formicaqueen's suggestions. Knowle is lovely, Dorridge is pretty nice too. Those Warwickshire towns are very nice. Solihull at one time - don't know if it's still true - had more millionaires per head of population than anywhere else!

dizzyhoneybee Wed 03-Apr-13 09:29:11

Bromsgrove seems to be all charity shops nowadays, I think I'd look a bit further south down the M5.

LadyKooKoo Wed 03-Apr-13 09:57:19

What is your budget?

Baroozer Wed 03-Apr-13 09:57:48

Thanks for the suggestions! I hadn't even thought of places like Knowle or Dorridge, but now Knowle has zoomed to the top of the list. It looks exactly what we were looking for!

Warwick was one of the places on our list, but DH heard that the traffic was awful even at the hours when he will be travelling.

I like the idea of Kenilworth. It's got a castle! It does look quite close to Coventry and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing because we had heard that Coventry was quite rough.

I think Stratford upon Avon is out of our price range because we need at least four bedrooms and we would like a decent garden.

We were originally thinking of Alcester, but were worrying that the non-grammar secondary school might not be any good.

List so far:
Warwick (if traffic is ok)

Theas18 Wed 03-Apr-13 10:09:38

Hagley? .

FrauMoose Wed 03-Apr-13 10:16:12

I am not so posh! The Kings Heath/Moseley area is more mixed. The High Street in Kings Heath has gone a bit scruffy - most High Streets have - but there is a choice of schools both primary and secondary. No station but good bus routes. Parks, lots of sports facilities etc. Some very nice Edwardian/Victorian larger houses if that's your thing. If you want new build then probably the areas already mentioned would be better.

dizzyhoneybee Wed 03-Apr-13 10:32:24

Droitwich Spa

dizzyhoneybee Wed 03-Apr-13 10:35:09

How about something like this?

Baroozer Wed 03-Apr-13 10:49:11

Is Worcester close enough? I thought it took more than 40 minutes to get into the centre of Birmingham from Worcester?

Our budget is currently £600k, but, as they always say on the property programmes, we might be able to stretch to £650k for the right house. Also my dad is offering to chip in some money if we need, though I'd rather not be even more beholden to him.

FrauMoose Wed 03-Apr-13 10:58:25

I could quite easily move here...


myron Wed 03-Apr-13 15:54:18

Out of your list, I would choose to live in Knowle were we ever to move back to the Midlands. (Grew up in Solihull & family in Kenilworth). Prefer Leamington Spa over Warwick not that there's more than a small bridge between the two.

Flossiechops Wed 03-Apr-13 17:05:56

With that budget Solihull would be affordable. Lapworth & Henley in Arden are well worth a look too.

iseenodust Wed 03-Apr-13 17:12:07

DB and family live in Dorridge. The train station makes commuting v easy. Good primaries and secondary schools. Odd fact; at one time they had 3 police chief constables living on their street (separately!).

CMOTDibbler Wed 03-Apr-13 17:27:06

As long as you were the right side of Worcester to get on the motorway easily (ie, via the not-actually-a-ring road) then you'll easily be in central Brum in 40 mins at that time of day. We live off j7 of the M5, and dh works on the Hagley Road, nearly in the centre, and can still drop ds at school at 8.15 and get into the office before 9.

And your budget gets you serious house out here!

FrauMoose Wed 03-Apr-13 17:44:24

I like Leamington. I think for teenagers being in/near Birmingham has a lot to offer though the surrounding towns may offer a pleasant environment for younger children and their parents. My stepchildren and daughter have attended Birmingham schools and all have done/are doing well.

formicaqueen Wed 03-Apr-13 20:53:18

Have to add that I would't worry about the kenilworth/coventry thing. They always seem very very separate to me. In your shoes I'd look at Knowle, Kenilworth and Henley

Leamington Spa is a bit like Cheltenham but smaller. Both Regency in style. Agree that it will take longer to drive in from Warwick/Leamington but the trains are excellent.

onedev Wed 03-Apr-13 22:40:04

If you're thinking Leamington or Warwick (both v nice) then your best bet is train into Birmingham as it does take a while to drive into the city centre (at least 40 mins with not a lot of traffic, but likely an hour or more depending on traffic & time of day).

Knowle & Dorridge are both very nice & easily into Birmingham driving in 30-40 mins or 15-20 mins by train.

I live in Solihull, so it would still be my favourite grin & only 10-15 mins by train.

With your budget, you should easily get a 4-bedroom, so good luck with your search.

Ra88 Wed 03-Apr-13 22:43:22

Tamworth ..

Baroozer Thu 04-Apr-13 17:42:55

What about Tamworth? Is it particularly lovely or somewhere we should avoid?

tamworth is manky.

Bue Thu 04-Apr-13 18:10:01

Kenilworth and Coventry are worlds apart, I don't associate the two at all. (Although there is really nothing wrong with Cov, it's not rough, just not very attractive.)

I prefer Leamington over Warwick but both are nice. Certainly a lot more going on in Leamington though, far more shopping, much more interesting life for teenagers I would have thought.

Sollihull is very smart, but it has a different feel than these others. To me it feels like suburban Brum, not like a separate, small town.

I know nothing of Worcester but my friend is dying to move back there!

FrauMoose Thu 04-Apr-13 18:14:08

I think it's terribly hard to advise without knowing more about your priorities. For example you might want to live in as affluent/middle-class an area as possible because that seems 'nicer.' You might want to live where you have access to a range of cultural activities and/or good countryside and/or a few independent shops. A manageable commute by car might be what you want - or perhaps a good train service is equally important. Ofsted league tables and selective schools might be a key factor. You might want the biggest modern property your money would buy. Or you might like Victorian houses. Depending on this lot, with your -quite generous - budget, you could go pretty well anywhere.

NB. From about 7.30 onwards roads in and around Birmingham the traffic builds up very quickly indeed. Me, I'd go for a good train service and/or trying to live a bit closer to the city. Particularly if you want any quality time with the person who is doing the commuting.

Baroozer Fri 05-Apr-13 10:48:04

You're right, FrauMoose, I've been too vague to get proper advice.

We would like to live in a fairly affluent/middle class area. We live in a commuter village now so there are lots of professional couples around with similar aspirations for their children. I hate how snobby that sounds, but equally my DS loves the local chess club and I would like him to know children whose parents won't take the piss out of him for being a bit geeky.

We don't want to be actually in Birmingham because we prefer to be in more of a countryside area. I like being able to walk out of our front door and see fields. I like being able to walk for five minutes max before I'm in proper countryside.

On the other hand, the shorter the commute is, the better. However, after a few years DH will probably be able to leave the centre of Birmingham and work in a local town instead so, if it's a toss-up between slightly shorter commute or living more in the countryside, the countryside wins.

We're not overly fussed about selective schools. We have a DD who is middling academically (though I'd never tell her that) and since the others are currently the type of children who work hard because they want to, and will therefore do as well as they can whichever school they go to, we'd prefer a school where all our children will be able to go together. We don't have any SN to cater for so that's not going to influence our choice of school.

We don't have many preferences about the type of house as long as it has a reasonable size garden, big enough for a vegetable patch and enough space for the kids to run around as well, and I'd like a big kitchen/diner, though that's not a deal-breaker.

We don't care about shops, as long as there is a supermarket that delivers.

The only thing I would really, really like is a leisure centre which has a swimming pool and a gymnastics club, preferably within walking distance. But again, if it's not that close by, I'm not going to throw my toys out of the cot.

I hope that's a bit more helpful. smile

FrauMoose Fri 05-Apr-13 11:08:22

Ah well in that case this sounds good

I am from the North of England and don't much like the countryside South of Birmingham. Very stockbroker beltish, and too flat for my taste. South Warwickshire is very attractive, but a drive rather than a walk away.

Malvern does better for hills and is very well-heeled. Some people commute to Birmingham by train.

I used to like the area round Kinver in Staffordshire, but the facilities would be more limited and the commute would be horrid.

Baroozer Fri 05-Apr-13 18:40:31

I do like the idea of Malvern and its proximity to the hills, but DH regularly works 10 hour shifts and occasionally a 12 hour one, so I can't see him being happy with an hour-long commute.

Flossiechops Fri 05-Apr-13 18:44:54

I think Solihull would suit your wish list more than any other area then. Your budget is excellent and there are many affluent families due to house prices being high.

onedev Fri 05-Apr-13 18:45:09

Knowle or Dorridge might meet your criteria of walking out into the countryside & also getting supermarkets to deliver with a short commute to Birmingham!!

jchocchip Fri 05-Apr-13 18:53:55

I'm on the solihull train now just left Birmingham Moor Street and will be at my Mum's in no time at all. Solihull has good schools and new leisure centre seems to be lots going on in Olton where I grew up!

LadyKooKoo Fri 05-Apr-13 19:15:54

Sutton Coldfield. You could get a house by the 2500 acre park, children could join the sailing club. Schools are great and would be in Bham in less than half an hour. Much nicer than Solihul I think.

Bimbledorf Fri 05-Apr-13 19:24:53

Solihull, which includes villages, Hockley Heath, lapworth, earlswood, knowle and dorridge... fits your criteria. But if I had your budget I would live in Stratford upon Avon in a heartbeat, I love Solihull and live here but wish I could move to Stratford!

holidaysdistantmemory Fri 05-Apr-13 19:33:50

Warwick is lovely. We have a 4 bed, 4 reception house in the nicest part of town and within catchment area of best schools for £350k, well under your budget. Traffic is no worse than anywhere else in my opinion. leamington is 5 mins away (all decent shops, cafés and restaurants you wld hope for there), Brum 30 mins by train, London 1hr by train, countryside, 5 mins drive. Love it.

holidaysdistantmemory Fri 05-Apr-13 19:46:46

Ps two v good leisure centres here, one in Warwick in the beautiful St nicks park (by the river/castle) and a walk for us, a larger one with chutes and beach area etc in leamington. And good thing for future job changes is that it is commutable to Stratford, Rugby, Coventry, Solihull, Brum, Banbury and West London (at a push)

CocoNutter Fri 05-Apr-13 22:45:14

What Bue Sid upthread smile

Kenilworth has lovely countryside around and very easy to walk from the house. Schools are really good. I'd live in Kenilworth or Leamington (north Leam nicer than south Leam generally) if I could afford it.

senua Fri 05-Apr-13 23:02:15

Try looking SW to Stourbridge/Hagley. Ver naice. Good schools. Good commute by train (but horrendous by car). Close to beautiful countryside with some lovely villages.

CocoNutter Sat 06-Apr-13 09:13:57

said, not Sid. Stupid phone. MNHQ we really need a 'stupid autocomplete' emoticon!

UptheChimney Sat 06-Apr-13 13:27:37

I grew up near Alcester (but in a manor house with a lot of land, so I doubt your budget would reach to that I'm afraid). It's a lovely small town, in beautiful part of the county, although the lovely old houses are now also beyond your budget. But if your chilen aren't really academically achieving enough to get into the grammar, then the high schools about aren't that great.

However, as someone who's lived in and around Birmingham for most of my life, I think you're being rather short-sighted snobbish about central Birmingham, particularly south Birmingham. It's home to one of the country's top universities, and so in suburbs such as Edgbaston and Moseley, there are loads of university staff. Academic families about in those areas, and I think that sort of neighbourhood would offer far more than the sort of 'executive home' environment you seem to want. Although again, if your children can't get into grammar school, you'd probably have to go to an independent school.

But then, although I grew up in a privileged way, I've never worried about mixing with all sorts of people. People are just people, and if you're confident in your own skin, you can mix with anyone.

mrsXsweet Sat 06-Apr-13 14:40:12

I grew up in Stratford and went to the grammar school in Alcester. Family still live in Stratford and they say it is feeling soulless these days. There also seems to be a lot of pressure on the primary schools due to developments not fulfilling obligations to build a school.
When I was at school Alcester High and Benny's (in particular) were good schools and loads of the pupils went to the grammar for 6th form and shone with pupils getting accepted to do medicine, go to Oxbridge etc. so they must have been doing something right! It was about 15 years ago though so times change.
If your husband is considering commuting to Birmingham by train then i wouldn't consider Stratford as it is a hideously slow line, stopping at all the villages.

Baroozer Sat 06-Apr-13 15:54:21

UptheChimney, I'm not sure how wanting to be able to walk a short distance into proper countryside equates to being short-sighted snobbish about central Birmingham.

Baroozer Sat 06-Apr-13 15:56:36

mrsXsweet, I think DH would normally be travelling by car. His hours can change at a moment's notice. A train station would be handy, but it wouldn't be a daily thing.

HormonalHousewife Sat 06-Apr-13 16:08:12

We have just moved to knowle from out of the area and reading your posts describes our situation a couple of years ago almost to a tee !

Dh had a flat provided for a couple of months and used that to get a feel of the city, so he really did the groundwork and considered Solihull to be right for us.

Solihull is a like living in a bubble really, excellent schools , facilities, transport links, countryside on your doorstep. I don't feel the need to go further afield and am embarrassed to admit I haven't been to Sutton or any of the other areas - I don't need too !

Dh catches the train from widney manor which is walking distance (just) into snow hill and it's about 20 mins. He also works long hours and if he takes the car he tends to use the longer m6 route and leaves about 7.50 am. He has a space at work so parking not an issue.

I don't specifically know about gymnastics but I'd do a backward flip if there wasn't a club that suited you.

House prices are high but they seem to sell reasonably. There has Ben a rash of sold boards around me recently.

The best thing you can do is drive around the areas you are considering and get A feel for the place.

HormonalHousewife Sat 06-Apr-13 16:18:58

You are not being shortsighted at all OP. me thinks upthechimney is the one being a bit sniffy here (have we talked money ?)

Edgebaston harbourne are lovely in their own rightbut a million times different in terms of location. I couldn't / wouldnt want to live there despite being able to afford a considerable house there - some of us just want different things.

AvrilPoisson Sat 06-Apr-13 16:34:10

I would suggest Barnt Green, Hagley, Romsley tbh, in the countryside really, or Knowle/Dorridge. I would be more concerned about schooling myself though!

AvrilPoisson Sat 06-Apr-13 16:53:14

wait- he's going to drive????
He'll never manage that within 40m from any of these places!

Baroozer Sat 06-Apr-13 17:08:43

Avril, he will be driving outside rush hour. His job normally starts at 8am so he'd be trying to get into work for 7:45am and finishes at 6pm (at the earliest).

Schooling is a big thing for us too, which is why I'm leaning towards Knowle/Dorridge. Arden School looks good.

Baroozer Sat 06-Apr-13 17:17:49

HormonalHousewife, thanks. I did wonder whether I should say what our budget is, but I thought it might help.

HormonalHousewife Sat 06-Apr-13 17:39:19

Arden gets extremely good results but you have to have a b93 postcode to get into it, which unfortunately pushes up house prices in the area.

It has it's downsides too though, drugs, bullying ... Just like lots of other schools really...
If you need anymore advice in the future just pm me. Happy to help.

AvrilPoisson Sat 06-Apr-13 20:02:03

Baroozer- rush hour starts earlier than you think here! It has been gridlock by 7:30 recently!
Stratford Road (main road between Solihull and Bham) is a nightmare at any time of day.

sleepdodger Sat 06-Apr-13 20:40:24

Out of Birmingham-
Leamington spa
Bromsgrove/ villages around

Closer- More suburbs

AvrilPoisson Sat 06-Apr-13 21:08:15

I hope this doesn't sound too churlish.... but why do people always mis-spell Harborne? confused

People always want to spell it like Bournville!

FrauMoose Sat 06-Apr-13 21:46:43

Not a fan of Stourbridge - it's a place I was glad to leave. Town dying because of recession hitting local industry and because the nearby Merry Hill Centre sucked the life blood out of lacal shops. Vile ring road strangling the town centre. Some pleasant countryside nearby though. I imagine the schools are alright. Good trains into Birmingham but can't imagine commuting along the Hagley Rd is fun.

pearlgirl Sun 07-Apr-13 00:06:10

Was going to suggest Hagley and Solihull, -as well as Harborne although it is a while since we looked at houses there. I always liked the feel of Malvern and Lichfield but don't know about schools and the commute into central Brum.
Interested to see people saying they were at Alcester Grammar as that is where dh went to school.

onedev Sun 07-Apr-13 09:34:47

From Knowle/Dorridge, you'd be best to use the Coventry Rd into Bham & that's generally fine, especially for an 8am start or if going earlier then the motorway would be fine too.

LadyKooKoo Sun 07-Apr-13 11:24:53

I drive from Sutton. Leave at 720 and takes me half an hour. If I leave after 730 then it can take me over an hour.

UptheChimney Sun 07-Apr-13 12:53:25

UptheChimney, I'm not sure how wanting to be able to walk a short distance into proper countryside equates to being short-sighted snobbish about central Birmingham

No, of course that's not snobbish! but your comment that:

We would like to live in a fairly affluent/middle class area. We live in a commuter village now so there are lots of professional couples around with similar aspirations for their children. I hate how snobby that sounds, but equally my DS loves the local chess club and I would like him to know children whose parents won't take the piss out of him for being a bit geeky

is very short-sighted & snobbish, as you yourself say

It's snobbish because it's based on assumptions you've made about the "type" of person in a city compared with those in a commuter village. And also because you seem to have fallen lazily into Birmingham stereotypes.

I suspect that many residents of Moseley, Harbourne etc are exactly the "type" of people you'd like your DCs to mix with. Far more professional families in south Birmingham than in a commuter village, and probably cleverer and geekier children than you might know. Lots of professors and consultants in those areas of south Birmingham

But it's your choice. Have a look at Barnt Green -- it's the housing that the Cadbury family built for their managers. And you can walk out into fields around there, and it's on the cross-city train line, so your DCs will have greater freedom to get themselves around when they're older and want more independence.

AvrilPoisson Sun 07-Apr-13 17:29:53

the other consideration is parking... as in I hope he has dedicated, paid-for parking in Bham, as city centre parking is very expensive, and difficult to find (particularly if he's out and about during day and going back to office).

Baroozer Sun 07-Apr-13 18:54:11

It's snobbish because it's based on assumptions you've made about the "type" of person in a city compared with those in a commuter village. And also because you seem to have fallen lazily into Birmingham stereotypes.

I think you may be misreading my post. I haven't made those assumptions at all. My reason for not wanting to live in the city has nothing to do with the other people living in the city, it has to do with our desire to live in the countryside.

I don't think our DC will be suffering from a lack of professors and consultants.

Avril, he should be able to park quite easily where he will be working so that's not an issue.

AvrilPoisson Sun 07-Apr-13 20:11:16

Oh- and Tanworth-in-Arden is lovely btw, real proper village, very pretty.

CaipirinhasAllRound Wed 10-Apr-13 16:13:09

I grew up in Alcester and went to the grammar. The high school seemed good and loads of them came to the grammar for the 6th form and on to uni.
There's no swimming pool or cinema and public transport is rubbish. You'd need to go to Stratford or Redditch for train. You could look a villages like Wilmcote near Stratford. On the train line and choice of Alcester or Stratford for secondary schools. (used to be anyway)

dizzyhoneybee Wed 10-Apr-13 18:57:16

Droitwich and Worcester both have gymnastics clubs and leisure centres with a pool, though the Worcester one is going to be demolished.

Baroozer Thu 11-Apr-13 09:50:45

That's a shame about Worcester swimming pool. Are there plans to rebuild?


CMOTDibbler Thu 11-Apr-13 09:58:32

Theres several swimming pools in Worcester, and they plan to build a new one as part of the building at j7.

Baroozer Thu 11-Apr-13 10:05:30

We did think about Rugby, particularly drawn by Ashlawn school, but it seemed a bit far out.

Kowalski Thu 11-Apr-13 10:06:29

I used to live in Birmingham but moved to Ashby de la Zouch, I think it fits your criteria? Very good transport links, Birmingham can easily be commuted to in 40 mins (I used to do it). Good schools, leisure centre, reasonable house prices (cheaper than Worcester and surrounding). Easy journey to Burton, Tamworth etc for larger shops...

Kowalski Thu 11-Apr-13 10:08:28

And my ds's school has a chess club!

It has easy access to the m6 though - straight to Birmingham and a train station , lots of lovely rural areas . They have lots of new builds at the moment as well .

dizzyhoneybee Thu 11-Apr-13 10:35:08

CMOT I hope I'm wrong but I thought the plans for the new building were likely to be shelved due to cutbacks?

formicaqueen Thu 11-Apr-13 22:16:19

Last time I looked the schools in rugby were quite mixed.

Baroozer Fri 12-Apr-13 15:30:41

Kowalski, I like the look of Ashby de la Zouch. It wasn't even on my radar as a Possible, so thank you for the suggestion.

Heavywheezing Fri 12-Apr-13 15:35:35

I lived in Hampton in Arden , which is a small village in Solihull, near the airport.

It has a railway station with links to Birmingham. Very quiet and down the road from knowle.

Solihull is lovely, very affluent and good shops and great schools.

Jocabc1974 Thu 13-Feb-14 08:59:02

Hi baroozer, I've just been googling knowle and dorridge as we have to relocate to Birmingham too and I saw your post. Just wondered did you ever make the move and if so where did you and your family decide to settle in the end. I have two children aged 1 and 2 and am coming over from northern Ireland. I would love to hear any advice you cold offer seeing as you were in the same predicament this time last year.

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