Image: Elliot Brown

In April this year, Bearwood came second in the Sunday Times survey of the best places for first-time buyers. The suburb regularly appears on lists of where to find affordable first properties. But what is about Bearwood, apart from the appealing house prices, that makes it a hot spot for young buyers?

Excellent Transport Links

Bearwood is officially part of Sandwell, not Birmingham, but residents tend to work and socialise in the city. Links to the city centre are excellent for commuting, with several bus routes running into the city every few minutes. For revellers, buses run until late, or the trip home is a reasonable cab fare from the city centre. Bearwood residents can also enjoy easy bus access to Harborne, Dudley, Merry Hill and other areas. For drivers, the suburb is just minutes from the M5, making road trips a breeze.

Bearwood Street Festival

Every year, Bearwood hosts its own street festival. Bearwood Road and the surrounding streets are taken up with stalls, street food, art, live music and children’s play. This all-day event is sponsored by local traders and celebrates the Bearwood community with fun for all ages. This year’s event takes place in June. Expect music from local acts Lady Sanity and Open Arms, while you can devour street food from Fat Snags, Dick’s Smokehouse and Meatshack.

Lightwoods Park and House

Image: Elliot Brown

Lightwoods House got a revamp recently, thanks to a £5.2million investment from the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sandwell Council. The house is a community hub, with classes including yoga, Pilates, baby ballet and baby massage. Visit Jonathan’s Café for afternoon tea, or evenings of live Irish music with food to match. Outside, you’ll find beautiful gardens for a stroll, a dog-walk or a kick-about with the kids. The park hosts regular free activities for children, a vegan market and is home to a skatepark and a play area.

Cafes

As Bearwood High Street fills up with trendy businesses, more cafes are beginning to open. Why Not Coffee is popular with the younger crowd, for their coffee, tasty menu and relaxing beer garden. Try out new addition Tamucafe, who serve delicious all-day brunch options and an array of pretty cakes. If you have little ones to entertain, there’s Café Craft, where you can turn your hand to pottery painting while you drink your coffee. If it’s classic café grub that you want, there’s the popular Serenity Café, or you could try a Turkish offering at Anatolia. If you’re in need of caffeine for your morning commute, check out new café, Edge Coffee. This café is right next to the Bearwood Interchange bus stops, and is filled with local art.

Warley Woods

Warley Woods is a Bearwood treasure. This large park is a very popular spot for families and dog-owners. There’s plenty of open grassland for a good run (for the dog or the kids) and a network of paths for joggers or those who fancy a stroll while admiring the wildlife. The woods are also home to a children’s play area, a bargainous café and even a golf course. Throughout the school holidays, there’s also a calendar of events including a bat walk, live theatre and a community picnic.

Bearwood also a very popular library, an art deco public swimming baths and several decent pubs. According to Zoopla, the current average house price is around £170,000, making this area much cheaper than its better-known neighbours.