Home to British chocolate, the Peaky Blinders, and some of the best food in the country, Birmingham is a great city to work from and explore!
Birmingham is the second-largest city in England and is located in the West Midlands. Because of its size and charm, it’s a real hub for young professionals, artists, historians, and musicians alike. The people from Birmingham, known as Brummies, are very proud of their industrial past, much of which can be seen throughout the city. If you fancy being Charlie for a day, you can go to Cadbury World to see how Britain’s most famous chocolate is made as well as learning about the history of the factory. The canals that cut through the city were once used to load chocolate, tea, custard, and other things (if you’re the Peaky Blinders!) onto barges to be transported all over the country. Nowadays these beautiful waterways and factories are lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants. They’re also a great way to have a tour of the city. Birmingham has some of the best shopping in England. The Bullring Market Place, which sounds like it should be more at home in Madrid, is a huge shopping center that dates back to the 12th century. There’s also the Victorian Shopping Arcade, which combines a little slice of history with shops and local boutiques. This metropolitan city is a great mix of culture, history, nightlife, and work opportunities!
Where to live in Birmingham
Where you want to stay in Birmingham depends on the vibe you’re looking for and what you want close by. Birmingham is a huge city, so where you stay will also determine how long you have to travel. That being said, public transport in the city is great, so nothing will take you too long. Do you want to be close to the best bars and music venues? In an area for professionals? Or are you after that more suburban, local feel?
Best Neighborhoods in Birmingham
Birmingham is divided into many different neighborhoods that all attract a different crowd. There are the alternative, more artistic areas of Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter and the more suburban community areas of Moseley and Harborne. That doesn’t mean that they’re just full of schools and parks, they have great bars and busy high streets too. Brindleyplace is another popular neighborhood mapped out by the canals that go through it.
Quick Facts About BirminghamIn terms of size, Birmingham is the second biggest city in England. It has a population of over 1.1 million and is a central hub for a lot of the country – you can get to 90% of the UK within 4 hours from the city! Here are some quick facts to help you get to know Birmingham a little better.
Birmingham was the inspiration for The Shire from Lord of the Rings.Moseley Bog, in the Mosely neighborhood, is said to be the inspiration for the Hobbits’ home. Tolkien grew up around this area and a lot of it creeps into his books!
Just under half of all the jewelry made in the UK is made in the Jewellery Quarter.More than 40% comes out of Birmingham! That’s the highest concentration in Europe!
It was the first manufacturing town in the world!In 1791 Birmingham was described as the first manufacturing town in the world because of all its famous scientists and inventors, such as James Watt. There are many museums around the city showing what life was like during the Industrial Revolution.
Birmingham has the youngest population in Europe.Almost 40% of the people who live in Birmingham are under 25. It’s a big student city and there’s a great nightlife that comes with such a young crowd.
Birmingham has more canals than Venice!The city has over 100 miles of canals. Ok, so sizewise it isn’t a fair comparison, but it’s still a pretty impressive statistic!
Birmingham is home to the oldest cinema in the UK.Electric cinema first showed a film in 1909. It’s still open today and is dedicated to preserving that historical feeling. Be prepared to sit in comfy armchairs with tables and lamps!
It has one of the best places in the world to watch cricket.Cricket is quintessentially British and Edgbaston is one of the most famous places to watch a game. Both the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes have been held there.
The city is home to some of England’s most famous brands.Cadbury Chocolate, Bournville hot chocolate, Birds Custard, and HP sauce all originated in Birmingham.
Work in Birmingham
Birmingham has always been known as a manufacturing city – and that’s still true today. A few years ago Cadbury was bought by Mondelēz and they moved the headquarters to London. Most of the manufacturing, however, is still done at the famous site in Birmingham. The car manufacturers Jaguar and Rolls-Royce are also big employers in the city, even though many of their offices are in other locations. Birmingham is a big university city and there are many graduate schemes available. These include schemes in the top supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer and in banks like Lloyds.
How good is Birmingham for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Birmingham. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Birmingham for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedBirmingham has really good internet with many providers. The average speed is around 30mbps which is definitely enough to work from home, a coworking space, or a cafe!
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsBirmingham is full of great and quirky coffee shops that are ideal to work from. Selling great coffee, food and with a nice ambiance, there’s a vibe for everyone. Here are some of the top spots to work from: York’s Bakery Cafe: Right in the center of town, York’s is a great and popular place to work from. They do breakfast, brunch, snacks, and super tasty baked goods. It does get pretty busy, especially at weekends, but if you can find a seat it’s a fun and bustling place to work from. Damascena Coffee House: This amazing eatery in Mosely does some of the best Middle-eastern food and coffee in Birmingham. The service is great and it’s the perfect place to work from as you load up on spice-infused coffee and delicious food! Boston Tea Party: This great, indie coffee shop is really welcoming to digital nomads. They’re incredibly friendly. The building in Birmingham is an old converted factory, beautifully decorated and they sell great coffee and bites to eat. They are a chain, but don’t let that put you off. Each feels distinctly unique.
Coworking SpacesBirmingham has a thriving coworking scene with plenty of different locations depending on what you’re looking for. Here are some of the best ones: Alpha Works: Located high above the skyline in Birmingham’s famous Alpha building, this coworking space offers everything you could need. There are hot-desking areas, private offices, and meeting rooms. It’s great for digital nomads, small teams, and freelancers. The Custard Factory: This amazing coworking space is in one of the old custard factory buildings in the heart of Digbeth. It’s a great location and only a little walk to the city center. Home to many famous brands, it’s also a great place to work from as a digital nomad. They have a cinema, crazy golf, shops, and cafes! The Moseley Exchange: This was actually the first coworking space in Birmingham and still offers professional yet relaxed offices to work from. They’re flexible in their approach and it’s a great place to network and meet other professionals. Birmingham has great coworking spaces all over the city. The one that will work best for you depends on what you want to be near to, how much you want to spend, and the kind of vibe you’re after.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsBirmingham is a great place to work as a digital nomad. There are plenty of unique cafes that welcome computers and that offer delicious food and drinks. If you’re after something a little more ‘professional’ Birmingham also has a lot of different coworking spaces to work from. When you’ve finished working for the day, Birmingham has great art and live music scene. You can always find an exhibition, a concert, or a bar with live music to enjoy with a locally brewed pint. The city also has a really rich and interesting history, so if you get an afternoon off you can explore one of the many museums.
Visa RequirementsU.S nationals don’t need a visa to enter the UK if they’re staying for less than 6 months. They do, however, have to have a valid passport for the entirety of their stay. U.S citizens can visit the UK as a tourist, to see family, for private medical treatment, and for some business or study exceptions. To stay in the UK for longer than 6 months or to work there, they will have to apply for a work visa. Since Brexit on the 1st of January 2021, EU nationals can no longer work and live in the UK without a visa. They may travel, study for short periods, and visit friends and family for up to 6 months but will need a visa thereafter. The UK operates a point-based visa system, meaning your chance of working there is based on your skills and talent.
Food and Drink in Birmingham
Birmingham is a huge city, so you can expect to find cuisines from every corner of the earth. There’s the famous Balti Triangle, an area of the city where you can find some of the best curries in the country. That’s no easy thing in England. Try Adil’s for a great chicken or spinach balti. Apart from London, Birmingham has more Michelin star restaurants than any other city in England. So if you’d like something a little fancier (and pricier) you can choose from one of the 16 restaurants! If you’re looking for something typically British, Birmingham has an abundance of great pubs selling local food and ale. You can also have a traditional afternoon tea, try Three Church Road for a mix of savory and sweet treats. You can add a glass of prosecco or champagne for an extra charge. Birmingham also has a great mix of street food markets that offer delicious food, drinks, and a bit of a night out. Digbeth Dining Club on a Friday and Saturday night is really good, with live music, loads of food stalls to choose from, and a fun atmosphere that’s mixed with the smell of roasting meat, waffles, and stir-frying vegetables!