Birmingham's 'promised land' that tells you the London property bubble can’t last forever

Birmingham's Kings Heath suburb has plenty to offer property buyers, says Merryn Somerset Webb – but at a fraction of the cost of buying in London.


Birmingham property has plenty going for it, and is far cheaper

I have been writing a bit about property in the Midlands recently more on that in a few weeks. So I was particularly interested to see that the Let's Move To column in The Guardian magazine this week was on Kings Heath in Birmingham.

Kings Heath, says Tom Dyckhoff, is the "promised land" of suburbs. It is a mere 15 minutes from Birmingham's New Street station (itself the subject of a stunning refurbishment); it has lovely houses, tree-lined streets, super parks, good schools and just the right number of tea rooms; and it has something of a music scene too.

Better still, if the fast growing Birmingham economy doesn't do it for you (remember George Osborne telling us at his last budget that there is a job created in the Midlands every ten minutes?), it really isn't far to London. Trains from New Street to Euston take around an hour and 20 minutes, a time that should be slashed by H2S.

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To London eyes, Kings Heath houses are stupidly cheap. Six-bedroom Victorian detached? Yours for £475,000. Five-bedroom terraced? £350,000. Three-bedroom? £260,000.

Don't want to travel all that way every day? No problem. Sell your house in Fulham for £2m. Buy the nice detached Victorian for £450,000. Spend another £400,000 on a studio in central London (perhaps this one), and pop the other million in the bank.

The interest on that, even at today's rates, should cover the cost of your travel. Tempting, isn't it? It is also one reason why we expect the price of London property to fall relative to non-London property (or the price of non-London property to rise relative to London property).

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.