Birmingham remains top destination for Londoners

image source, PA
image captionThe second city was the most popular place for people leaving London

Birmingham is the most popular destination for people moving from London, official figures show.

More than 6,000 people left the capital for England's second city last year, according to the latest internal migration statistics.

The second, third and fourth most popular destinations were all within 50 miles of London - Brighton, Thurrock and Epping Forest respectively.

Business leaders say the figures reflect an ongoing trend.

Emma Gray, marketing director for Visit Birmingham, said the city had seen significant growth and investment.

"People may have older perceptions of Birmingham and have not seen how it has transformed over the past 10 years," she said.

"Businesses both internationally and domestically are looking for opportunities outside the capital."

"They know that by being located in a central place like Birmingham they have the best of both worlds, they can get back to friends and family, and because they are in the middle of the country they can explore more."

image source, Getty Images
image captionNew buildings such as the Library of Birmingham have seen the city's landscape change

Last year, HSBC bank said about 1,000 jobs would be transferred from London to Birmingham as it relocates its headquarters to a new office in the city centre.

Deutsche Bank has also continued to expand in the city.

'Brum has a swagger to it now'

Tom Cullen, the founder of e-magazine, I Choose Birmingham, lived in London for 13 years.

He said: "Birmingham will never have culture, entertainment, food and drink on the level that London does, but it does offer a brilliant blend of all of the above and affordable housing, and good school options.

"Perhaps, most importantly, though, people are no longer embarrassed to say they live in, or are moving to, Birmingham. Those who still have a negative impression of the second city - and it certainly is the second city - either haven't visited in the last three years or simply will not allow their opinion to be changed.

"Brum has a swagger to it now. It doesn't care what the rest of the nation thinks because it is self-assured, it's comfortable in the knowledge that it's an incredible city, whether other Brits agree or not."

Some Londoners who moved to Birmingham have shared their experiences on Facebook.

image source, Facebook
image source, Facebook

But others disagree.

image source, Facebook
image source, Reuters
image captionMore than 6,000 people left London for Birmingham last year

The figures, analysed by BBC England's data unit, are largely based on NHS registrations and are likely to be an underestimate.

They will include students heading to university, as well as people who were moved from London boroughs because local authorities were not able to afford the rising cost of housing them in the capital. One authority, Wandsworth, admitted offering grants of up to £7,000 to anyone prepared to move to Birmingham.

'Incredibly vibrant'

Lucy Williams, head of UK Bank Regulatory Compliance at HSBC, moved to Birmingham with her husband and three children.

"My last visit to the city was 25 years ago and it was very different then. It's an incredibly vibrant city. Physically, it's changed dramatically, she said.

"The community has been incredibly welcoming... and reached out to us.

"There's an awful lot going on in the city all the time. The move for the family has been incredibly positive."

image captionBirmingham's Selfridges building has a distinctive design

'Smaller scale'

Heather Richardson, director of Fish Home Finders, which helps people to relocate to the West Midlands, said young professionals were attracted by lower property prices and a better quality of life.

"They have this image of Birmingham being a really industrial city and every single time people say 'wow, I did not know Birmingham was like this'.

"There's nothing like living in a capital city, you can't compete with that, but Birmingham has everything on a smaller scale."

Luke Addis, founder of Updates Media added: "The city has really upped it's game in recent years. It's currently undergoing a huge regeneration and big businesses - like HSBC - coming into the city yet still the house prices are refreshingly affordable.

"You get the best of both worlds in Birmingham - a cosmopolitan lifestyle without the price tag."

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