Well, we have now officially been living in Birmingham, England for 4 months now. I thought this might be a good time to check in and reflect on what we like, dislike, differences, etc. I will be rating each section on a scale of 1-10. 1= Hate it and 10=Love it.
Weather: Let’s be honest, England is not known for its glorious weather. It’s wet and never particularly very warm either. Since being here it has not rained as much as I thought it would have so that is nice. But, as I am typing this it is currently raining outside. The rain here so far seems to be fairly light. I have maybe used my umbrella 5-6 times and my rain jacket 2-3 times from September-January. I would prefer the skies to just open up and dump rain as I love a good thunderstorm but alas, all we get is short rain showers or just an all day mistiness or light drizzle. Daytime temps for winter run about 30 degrees-50F. Most of the time its 30-40F. I have lived in colder places but I honestly think I feel colder here than anywhere else I have lived. I’m attributing that to how much we are outside walking as we do not own a car and also because it is a wet/cold which is not pleasant. I would give the weather a 4.
The sky–just kind of grey. We do the sun more than I thought we would so that is nice.
The City: We live in Birmingham City Centre. We do like our 2/2.5 bath 5th floor flat that overlooks the city. There are only 2 flats on our floor so it’s quiet and so is the building itself. We have even made our tiny kitchen work for us and haven’t had any issues with its size. Birmingham itself is not a city that we love. There is a severe lack of green spaces and parks in the city. You can find these by venturing out of the city a bit but it would be much better if there was more green space directly in the city. There is also a large amount of litter on the streets. Seriously people, stop being lazy and pick up your rubbish. Dirty, lazy people that have no regards for the environment and keeping the city they live in clean are quite annoying. There are also a large amount of people that smoke in the city. If you want to smoke, fine, but what I don’t appreciate is walking down the street and having to dodge your second hand smoke and then see the cigarette butts littering the streets as well. I now, watch for smokers and hold my breath as I run past them when they exhale carcinogens. There are some museums and things to see around the city but nothing super exciting. I would rate the city as a 5.
Transportation: We decided when we moved to England that we would not own a car and would rely on public transposition. I am very happy that we don’t own a car as people in Birmingham tend to drive very fast. I really don’t care to be on the roads and in traffic with them. The transportation options from Birmingham are very good. Trains, buses, taxi’s, uber, etc. We rely on walking and trains the most and have found many routes that can take us outside the city to cool locations. Mass transit is something that the US seriously lacks. I would rather travel by train than by car to a destination so you can avoid traffic, don’t have to stop to use the bathroom, and you can relax and enjoy the scenery. I rate the transportation in Birmingham as a 9.
New Street Station–the main train station. Very cool inside. Lots of train lines and also restaurants and shopping. 8-10 minute walk from our flat.
Travel: The options for travel from Birmingham are endless. You have an International airport and trains that link to many places across UK and Europe. We are in love with the cheap travel prices and many choices of places to go. In the past 4 months we have traveled to France, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Canary Islands, Scotland, Wales, parts of England and are heading to the Canaries again in a week. Our flights to the Canaries next week only cost 25-30 pounds round trip person. That is about $30-$35 US. I rate the travel a 10.
Community: We have never been a family that has trouble meeting people, but of course meeting people that you truly click/connect with can be challenging. That would be the case anywhere we lived. But, we have met many lovely people since moving here that go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Our daughter Tenley attends athletics (track) once a week, trampoline trick classes once a week, sometimes rock climbs, and rides horses twice a week. All of these activities allow us to meet other parents and kids her age as well. The ease of signing up a lot of these activities can be quite slow compared to the US but if you stick with it, it eventually works out. I rate the people and community an 7.5.
Bank: I do not care for the bank and how banking is done in the UK. I actually can’t even log into my bank account because I can’t remember the 6 passwords that I need to log in. No joke–your bank account has 6 passwords. The bank tells you that you wont’ need to remember them if you just use the bank app on your phone and use fingerprint recognition. Not True! You still need the damn passwords. Oh, and it’s not just what is your password it’s what is the 1, 3 and 5th number of your super secret password. WHAT??? Then if you want to pay a bill online via your account you have to use your phone and the online account to generate a pay code and then enter that pay code into the bill pay area online. It’s the dumbest system ever! If you want to go to the bank and see a staff person to help you with all your lame passwords, you better get there right when they open or you could be waiting 2 hours to see someone. I rate the bank as a 2!
How I feel about the banks!
Appliances: Why are the appliances so small here? The fridge, washing machine and dishwasher are 1/2 the size that they are in the states. The washing machine is a combo washer/dryer in one machine but the drying part is not a true tumble dryer that I am used to in the states so I don’t even use it as it just makes the clothes all wrinkly. So, hanging them out to dry is annoying but its not hard. I dislike seeing them hanging in my living room to dry and how much humidity they pump into the place. The small dishwasher isn’t that big of a deal but the small fridge/freezer could for sure be bigger. In order of importance I would love a full size washer and proper tumble dryer and a bigger fridge/freezer. None of these items are deal breakers and we totally manage with them being small but if I was able to choose then I would want something different. 🙂 I do however LOVE the in-home delivery of groceries and the ease of having Hubs work clothes laundered/pressed or dry cleaned. I rate the appliances a 5.
Tiny washer and fridge. It does clean our clothes and the fridge is full of healthy food so for that I am grateful.
I could totally make this post longer but I think I will stop there for now. When people ask how I feel about living in Birmingham, it is hard to smile and say, ” I love it!” I am just kind of “Meh” about it. I don’t hate it but I don’t live it either. Would I move to somewhere warm and sunny tomorrow if I could? YES! But, am I enjoying the experience to live abroad and travel Europe? YES!