The Lowdown

Everything you need to know

Getting here

Birmingham’s central location within the UK means accessing it is easy. Situated at the core of the UK’s motorway network, the city is connected to the M5, M6, M40, M42, A34 and A38, with the M1 only 30 minutes away. This makes for easy bus travel to and from Digbeth Coach Station, with National Express providing services to over 1,200 destinations in mainland Britain and 500 within Europe. Birmingham has three city centre railway stations offering frequent connections to London’s Euston Station, London Marylebone and many other towns and cities across the UK. Birmingham Airport is connected to the city by train and welcomes more than 50 airlines from over 100 destinations.

Getting around

Birmingham’s cycle lanes, walking paths and pedestrianised areas make it an inexpensive city to get around, but if you’re in more of a hurry, then the public transport system is brilliant too. The city centre and surrounds is well served by buses, trains and taxis, but for a more leisurely explore, try a narrowboat down one of Birmingham’s historic canals, travelling at a top speed of three miles an hour.

Food and drink

Ask most people about food and drink in Birmingham and the legendary Balti Triangle instantly springs to mind – and there’s a very good reason why this area, south-east of the city centre, is known as the curry capital of the UK. But this modern and diverse city has much more to offer than that. For the city’s best street food, try the award-winning Digbeth Dining Club at Spotlight on Trinity Street every Friday from 5.30pm. For top-notch veggie food in a warehouse setting, you can’t beat The Warehouse Café on Allison Street, or visit the city’s Jewellery Quarter for rustic baked goods at the Peel & Stone bakery. If you’re a fan of craft beer on tap, then visit Purecraft on Waterloo Street, or if your preferred tipple is gin, make your way to the Victorian-themed The Jekyll and Hyde gin parlour.

Where to shop

If it’s major high street stores and well-known restaurant and café francises you’re after, then it’s hard to go past The Bullring – the Midlands’ most famous shopping centre, with 160 stylish stores such as Selfridges, Debenhams and more. But Birmingham also has its fair share of cool indie shops to discover as you walk the streets of Digbeth, including Swordfish Records on Dalton Street, and all manner of funky shops at the Custard Factory, like the retro McTunney’s Sweet Emporium, Provide for clothes, books, magazines and accessories, Clink Beer – an independent craft beer bottle shop – and Flamingo Vintage and Vintage Hideaway for a definite nostalgia fix.

Accommodation

There are no halls of residence at BIMM Birmingham, but our Student Support Team can offer guidance when it comes to finding suitable student digs. Whether you choose to live in a bedsit, a flat, a shared house, a privately run student accommodation site, or even on a part-board basis with a family, there’s plenty to choose from… although they do fill up fast, so we recommend you begin your search as soon as possible to find a home that suits you.

If you’re looking to share, check out online housesharing websites, such as Gumtree, Accommodation For Students, EasyRoommate and Spare Room, or search for Facebook groups with names like ‘BIMM Birmingham Freshers’ and post what you’re looking for. Or if you’d prefer to go the letting agency or private landlord route, start your search online with websites such as Purple Frog Property, the Student Letting Company, Right Move and Open Rent.

Budgeting

As a student city, Birmingham is a fairly inexpensive one. In fact, in a 2016 Student Living Index survey carried out by NatWest, it came 9th on a list of 25 popular UK university cities for cost-effectiveness. Monthly accommodation costs tend to be between £200-£265 depending on the location and quality of the property, and other essentials such as food, entertainment, study materials, travel, clothing, phone and utility bills can push the budget up another £150-£200 depending on your taste.

If it’s a bargain you’re after, The National Union of Students (NUS) offers a range of exclusive discounts in high street shops, restaurants and online on sites such as Spotify and Apple – to access them, check out the NUS Extra website and buy yourself a £12 student discount card which will quickly start paying for itself. Or else just get cheeky – it’s always worth asking for a student discount wherever you go, as lots of places will happily accept a Student ID Card.

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