Moving to Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes, or MK as it’s referred to locally, was a brave new vision in town planning when it was inaugurated in 1967. Now, nearly 50 years on, it’s the fastest growing urban area in Europe, it’s been a Rugby World Cup host city and it achieved the highest increase in jobs across the UK in the decade up to 2015. The fact that it also has a reputation for concrete cows and roundabouts simply adds to its quirky charm and it seems to be rapidly shedding its ugly duckling origins and turning into a swan.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Milton Keynes report includes info on:
- The best areas to live
- The good schools
- The average monthly rental prices
- The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting Milton Keynes on the map
Approximately twice the size of either Oxford or Cambridge, Milton Keynes is located in Buckinghamshire, some 45 miles north-west of London. It was created through the amalgamation of Bletchley, Wolverton, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes and a number of smaller villages. The new town was devised on a grid pattern, rather than the usual radial pattern, creating one kilometre square localities known as grid squares. Each of these has its own unique neighbourhood feel, and there are 100 in total. At the intersections of the grid roads, there are roundabouts to ease the flow of traffic—hence the reference to roundabouts in the introduction!
The city is well-connected by road and rail to London and destinations throughout the Midlands.
- Milton Keynes has five railway stations, three on the West Coast Main Line and two on the Marston Vale Line.
- The journey time by train to London is approximately 40 minutes.
- The M1 motorway passes close to the eastern edge of the city, with access at three junctions.
- The proximity to the M1 has led to the construction of a number of major distribution centres in the area.
- The A5 runs through the centre of Milton Keynes and the road network connects it to Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering.
- There is a good bus network throughout the town, with connections to Aylesbury, Luton, Oxford, Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester.
- The nearest international airport is at Luton, while a high speed train link brings Birmingham Airport within easy reach.
Milton Keynes was created by the amalgamation of a number of villages, some of which still retain their own characteristics. Between them, modern infill and the grid pattern layout make the town rather unique. The four main towns were Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford and Wolverton. Their satellite villages, mostly rural and farming in nature, included Bradwell, Broughton, Caldecotte, Fenny Stratford, Great Linford, Loughton, Milton Keynes, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End, Simpson, Stantonbury, Tattenhoe, Tongwell, Walton, Water Eaton, Wavendon, Willen, Great and Little Woolstone, and Woughton on the Green.
A major Victorian railway junction and famously the home to the UK government’s Code and Cypher School. This is where the Enigma code was cracked and Bletchley Park is now a fascinating museum of code breaking and computing.
Certainly one of Milton Keynes‘s most desirable areas to live in, Loughton Lodge continuously tops Milton Keynes Council’s MK Observatory social atlas. The village still retains its medieval centre with a cluster of 16th century buildings, while All Saints Church dates back to the 13th century.
This is another ancient village and Willen Lake adds to the attraction, offering dinghy sailing, wind surfing, pedalos and fishing. You’ll also find the first Buddhist Temple to be built in the western world here.
Picturesque Walton is located on the banks of the River Ouzel, about four miles south west of the city centre in what were originally the grounds of Walton Manor Farm. The local manor house is the headquarters of the Open University.
Referring to itself as ‘the Jewel of Milton Keynes’, this small market town lies at the north west corner of Milton Keynes. It dates back to Roman times, as it was the site of a ford where Watling Street crossed the River Ouse. It offers a wealth of English history, olde worlde pubs and hosts an annual folk music festival.
Once the site of an economically important Benedictine priory, there is still a small medieval chapel here. New Bradwell was built in Victorian times to house the railway workers and an unused railway line has been converted into a popular cycle route.
Middleton is centred on the original Milton Keynes village, the focus of which is a 13th century thatched pub and a 14th century manor house. This is a good area to come to if you’re looking for period housing.
This attractive village lies west north-west of Milton Keynes and boasts the area’s most expensive street, Northampton Road.
To the south east of the city centre, Aspley Guise has a splendid historic centre with 29 listed buildings, including the 13th century St Botolph’s Church and Aspley Manor. It’s also noted for Aspley Wood and a public golf course. Look out for properties in Berry Lane and Peers Drive.
Dating back to the Domesday Book, Great Linford has found more recent fame for the prestigious recording studio housed in the 17th century manor.
Who lives here and why?
With a population of approximately 230,000, Milton Keynes is a sizeable town. Its development was nothing if not controversial, but the result is one of the greenest towns in Britain. Initially, no building could be taller than the tallest tree, but the stricture was lifted in order to allow some landmark buildings to be constructed. This led to a number of taller office buildings going up in the CBD, including the Pinnacle, Manhattan House and the Vizion development. By 2012, Experian was describing Milton Keynes as a leading centre for economic recovery, and first outside the M25 for growth of office space.
Milton Keynes hosts a large number of national and international companies, including Argos, Domino’s Pizza, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen, Coutts, Santander, Open University, Network Rail and Yamaha. Here are some of the reasons businesses and people are flocking to Milton Keynes:
- Milton Keynes has a relatively low cost of living, coming 41st out of 64 places considered.
- Job growth has been measured at 18 percent.
- The city came fifth in a survey of the best places in the UK to make a living.
- Coutts proclaimed it ‘a haven for millionaires of the future’.
- In 2015, it came in the top five nationally for average wages.
- Top sectors include professional, scientific and technical, with retail employing the highest number of people.
- Even through the recession, Milton Keynes had one of the highest business start-up rates in the UK.
The Best Bits
From the outset, Milton Keynes has been atypical of most UK towns of the same size. The urban planning revolution brought about by architects including Sir Richard MacCormac, Lord Norman Foster, Henning Larsen and Ralph Erskine resulted in some unique features:
- The streets are laid out in a ‘lazy grid’, following the lie of the land rather than a rigid geometric pattern.
- The Redways are a network of shared pedestrian and cycle routes that stretch 125 miles through the city.
- The town lies on a flood plain, so a number of linear parks dissect Milton Keynes to draw off high waters from the Great Ouse and the Ouzel.
- Milton Keynes is the ‘city in the forest’. More than 20 million trees line its streets, contributing to the low levels of pollution experienced here.
Other highlights of living in Milton Keynes include:
- The National Bowl is an open-air music venue that can accommodate 65,000. The city has a vibrant music scene with lots of additional smaller venues.
- There are two museums—Bletchley Park and the Milton Keynes Museum—as well as a public art gallery, which hosts rotating exhibitions of new work by young international artists.
- Milton Keynes has a 1,400-seat theatre, while the Central Bus Station has been turned into the Central Arts Centre for films, live performances, exhibitions and a social enterprise hub.
- There are three professional sports teams based in Milton Keynes—the MK Dons football team, Milton Keynes Lightning ice hockey team and the Red Bull Racing Formula 1
- For adrenalin junkies, there are an indoor ski slope and an indoor sky diving facility.
- The Centre is a mile-long steel and glass shopping centre based on the work of architect Mies van der Rohe.
Bringing the Kids
Milton Keynes has a number of factors that make it attractive to families:
- MK has a below average crime rate
- Pollution levels are low because of the huge number of trees planted throughout the city
- Cycle and walking routes can make the journey to school healthy and pleasant
- There’s plenty of family-friendly entertainment in and around the city
- You’ll have easy access to the Buckinghamshire countryside
With regard to education, Milton Keynes is the largest town in the UK not to have its own university. However Milton Keynes College provides further education up to foundation degree level. There are also a number of other colleges in and around the area. For younger students, however, there is plenty of choice:
- Results from the city’s state secondary schools are above the national average
- Milton Keynes‘s 12 secondary schools are mainly comprehensives. However, there are selective grammar schools within reach in Buckingham and Aylesbury that offer even higher standards of education.
- There are 88 state-funded primary schools in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area, including six Church of England schools, five Roman Catholic schools and one Ecumenical school.
There are five fee-paying primary schools in Milton Keynes and one private senior school. However, there are nearly 50 private schools in Buckinghamshire, many of which are in commutable distance, depending on where you choose to live.
Relocating to Milton Keynes
Since its inception, Milton Keynes has been the butt of numerous ‘new town’ and ‘concrete cows’ jokes (a reference to some early public sculptures). However, with an expanding job market and one of the greenest city environments in the country, there’s plenty to recommend it. Within easy distance of London and Birmingham, with good transport links via rail and the M1, it makes a sensible place to locate a business—and an increasing number of national and international companies seem to be picking up on the fact. Furthermore, despite its size, parts of Milton Keynes still retain the local heritage from the constituent villages that make it up, and average rents, although increasing, continue to be reasonable on a national scale. However, if you don’t know the area and need to find suitable schools, using the services of a relocation agent will considerably smooth your path.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Croydon, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
Average Monthly Rent - Milton Keynes
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre||£840.71|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre||£649.23|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre||£1,374.58|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre||£1,112.08|