wrote about Solihull in His Let’s Move To … column in The Guardian in 2016:


Let’s move to Solihull, West Midlands

Urbs in rure, goes its slogan, though it’s more rure in urbs, with fragments of its quaint past embraced by suburbia

What’s going for it? You say Solly-hull, I say Sow-lihul. It’s all terribly terribly, round here – all Groves, Avenues and Crescents, 1920s lawns and conifers. Under different circumstances, it might have continued life as a small Warwickshire market town with a fine sandstone parish church, a manor house and a huddle of half-timbered cottages, but Brum fattened up in the 20th century, its girth swilling over pretty Solihull. Urbs in rure, goes its slogan, though it’s more rure in urbs, with the fragments of its quaint past now gripped in the suburban embrace of Ramada hotels, John Lewis and labyrinthine avenues called Beechnut Lane. Solihull was voted the best place to live in the UK a few years back and, indeed, it is the kind of untroubling town the nation, had we met by committee, might have agreed on as the optimum place in which to while away our lives, trimming the hedges and polishing the Land Rover.

The case against You can tire of 1920s suburbia. The centre is humdrum.

Well connected? Trains: six or so an hour to Birmingham Moor Street or Snow Hill (12-20 mins), twice hourly to Warwick (20-25 mins) and London Marylebone (an hour and 40 mins to two hours). Driving: 15 mins to Birmingham airport, half an hour to the centre of Birmingham.

Schools: Primaries: GreswoldCoppice JuniorYew TreeSt Alphege C of EMonkspath JuniorWidney JuniorSharmans Cross JuniorOak Cottage are all “good”, says Ofsted. Secondaries: Solihull sixth-form collegeLode Heathand Alderbrook are all “good”, with St Peter’s Catholic and Tudor Grange“outstanding”.

Hang out at … You’ve got your Italian trattorias and your Indians, and decent places such as the Malt Shovel at Barston, but I’d go the extra mile for The Forest at Dorridge.

Where to buy You won’t want for serpentine avenues of weighty Edwardian to 1930s detacheds and semis. Poshest around Hampton and Marsh Lanes, and by Brueton Park; get lost, too, around Streetsbrook Road, Prospect Lane and up to Kineton Green. Farther south, Widney has more mainstream suburbans. Large detacheds and town houses, £550,000-£1.25m. Detacheds, £280,000-£550,000. Semis, £230,000-£370,000. Terraces and cottages, £150,000-£280,000. Flats, £130,000-£250,000. Rentals: one-bed flat, £450-£650pcm; three-bed house, £750-£1,500pcm.

Kiran Sidhu “It’s a lovely place to bring up children. Lots of parks and excellent schools. Apart from the M42, it’s a welcome sanctuary.”

David Evans “The town and villages are surrounded by farms, fields, streams and overhung country lanes within comfortable walking or cycling distance.”

Since Tom’s piece, there may have been some changes, especially in typical house prices!