London vs Birmingham: Detailed City Comparison Guide

Wondering what is the difference between London vs Birmingham? I live in the UK for more than a decade now and I can share a detailed comparison in which city is the right one for your needs.  Birmingham and the Midlands have been my home here in the UK and I love London too, I used to go to London every weekend to do my course work.

London vs Birmingham: Detailed City Comparison Guide

London vs Birmingham Comparison Guide
London vs Birmingham: The Buckingham Palace in London and The Birmingham Town Hall

Location:

London is the capital of England and is located in the southeast region of the country. It is the political hub of the UK government and the official residence of the British monarch. London is considered the largest city in the UK with an area of 1,572 km² with a population of 8.982 million as of 2019.

Birmingham is located in the centre of the West Midlands region of England.  Birmingham is known for its industrial revolution roots and landmarks. Birmingham is the second-largest city in the UK with a land area of 268 km² with a population of 1.149 million as of 2019.

Cost of Living:

The cost of living between the two cities are significantly different. London is considered as one of the most expensive places to live in England and the UK. 

When I was staying with two of my friends in London every weekend to attend a course, I asked my friends how much they are paying for the shared house and a whole flat (1 bedroom) per month. These are the central London accommodation prices:

Shared house: £600 per month

Whole flat:  £1,800 per month 

In contrast, the cost of living in Birmingham is more affordable than in London.  Since I live in Birmingham, I can share with you how much are the current going rate in renting a place in the city centre. 

Shared house: £400 per month

Whole flat: £600 – £800 per month

On top of these accommodation rental rates, you still need to pay for the council tax which varies depending on your council’s current rates, how many bedrooms, and your postcode. Utility bills like internet, water, heating and electricity will still be on top of these rental rates.

Transportation:

There are various modes of transportation in London and Birmingham that are unique to both cities. I wrote a blog post about 8 Money-Saving Travel Tips Exploring Around London (UK) maybe you will find it useful to explore the city.

London is known for its London Underground Rail System or commonly known as the Tube. On the other side, Birmingham is known to have an intricate canal system that is a greater number than the Venice canals. 

Local buses and coaches

Getting around the city using the bus system is very convenient. Both London and Birmingham have the iconic red double-decker buses that are roaming around the clock. London and Birmingham are considered the main hubs of the long-distance or intercity coaches that travel in and out of the city going to various places around the UK and Europe. 

Victoria Bus station is where you can find most of the long-distance or intercity coaches like the National Express, Megabus, Flixbus and Easybus. You can also find these coach companies stopping in Birmingham. The Digbeth Coach station is the main coach station of Birmingham for long-haul and intercity coaches. 

I frequently use coaches to travel to London from Birmingham. Travelling to London from Birmingham via coaches is cheaper compared to trains. Most especially when you book your coach ticket in advance. You can get a £1 one-way advanced ticket to London from Birmingham (and vice-versa). I wrote another blog post about various Easy Ways to Get from London to Birmingham

Taxis

Taxis needs to be pre-booked to the taxi companies or alternatively, you can now use various taxi apps like Ola or Uber to book your taxi.

Trams

Trams are also available in London and Birmingham.

Tramlink is a tram company in London that mainly runs from Wimbledon through Croydon to Beckenham. Trams in Birmingham are also widely used by the locals to access the city centre, the route is mainly from the Birmingham Snowhill to Wolverhampton. The tram company in Birmingham is called West Midlands Metro.

Trains

Both Birmingham and London are the main train hubs of the UK.

London has a few main train stations that cater to local trains, long haul trains and international trains. 

The main train stations in London are:

  • Euston Train station
  • Paddington train station
  • St. Pancras International Train Station
  • Victoria train station
  • Marylebone train Station

In Birmingham, there are 3 main stations in the city.  Mainly they cater to the local trains and long haul trains that go to all parts of England, Scotland and Wales.

The main three train stations in Birmingham are:

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Birmingham Moor Street
  • Birmingham Snow Hill

River Bus and Narrowboat

The river Thames is used by the locals and tourists in London to travel across the city.  The River bus of river Thames runs between Putney and Woolwich with 23 piers along its route.

On the other hand, Birmingham canals are intricately woven into the city however, it is mainly used by holidaymakers. The narrowboat is used by the holidaymakers to see different places in Birmingham. Some locals also live on the narrowboat and moors at the local marinas.

Both London and Birmingham are not accessible for cruise ships and have no nearby cruise ports.  Cruise passengers would need to take the train or bus from Southampton to access London and Birmingham. I wrote another article here on how to Ways How to Get from London to Southampton, I’m sure you will still find this helpful in planning for your journey.

Healthcare:

Healthcare in Birmingham and London are generally free for the locals except for the dental services and prescriptions. 

I am forever grateful to have the National Health Service (NHS) available here in the UK that is providing free healthcare services. If you are moving to London or Birmingham, you need to register yourself into the local Primary Care GP.  This will enable you to access the local health services in the city. 

Places to visit:

London and Birmingham have their unique points of interest when it comes to different attractions to visit in the city. 

London being the centre of the UK and England, it has more tourists attractions to visit and things to do.  London is the home of Buckingham Palace, the House of Parliament and other historical iconic landmarks of the UK. I wrote a blog post discussing the London Attractions: 49 Best Things to Do in London (UK)

Birmingham tourists attraction has their own merits.

Due to Birmingham’s industrial roots, the city does not have any castles or palaces. However, it has good historical and family tourist attractions. I wrote a blog post about the 12 Best Things To Do in Birmingham UK (Local’s Guide) for couples and with kids

If you are a football avid fan, Birmingham is the home of Aston Villa Football Club, West Bromwich Football club and the Birmingham City Football Club. 

Is Birmingham more expensive than London?

London is generally more expensive than Birmingham in terms of the cost of living. However, the London salaries are notably much higher than Birmingham. Hence, most of the people who work in London lives in the suburban areas near London to save on the cost of living.

Is Birmingham more diverse than London?

The United Kingdom is known to have a multi-cultural nation. London’s population is 8x more than Birmingham. London is more diverse than Birmingham.

London vs Birmingham Detailed City Comparison Guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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