Moving to Reading
Are you moving to Reading? Located in the county of Berkshire, some 35 miles west of London, Reading is one of the fastest growing commercial hubs in the south-east of London. With a population of 235,000, a ruined abbey, a leading university and a regenerated river front, there are plenty of reasons for both businesses and individuals to relocate to here.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Reading 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 Reading on the map
Lying due west of London, at the heart of southern England, Reading is located on a low ridge between the River Thames and the River Kennet, close to where the two waterways meet. The surrounding countryside has much to recommend it, with the Berkshire Downs to the west and the Chiltern Hills to the north; however, there are also floodplains along the floor of the river valleys, which are still occasionally subject to flooding.
Although the evidence points to an 8th century settlement, there is reason to believe that there was a Roman river port at this site. During the mediaeval era, Reading wielded considerable influence through the royal connections of Reading Abbey. The town was held to siege during the English Civil War but its fortunes changed with the arrival of the Great Western Railway in the 19th century — precipitating the development of the brewing, baking and seed growing industries in the area.
Like any other town of the same size, Reading has its smart areas and its less salubrious quarters. The range of property on offer varies considerably — in the town there are Victorian terraces, semi-detached houses and villas, as well as Edwardian properties and some smart new developments. Rental prices are somewhat above the national average but this should come as no surprise given the town’s commercial preeminence in the south-east.
Where to look:
- Caversham and Emmer Green — to the north of the town centre, these are Reading’s smartest suburbs. You’ll find good restaurants and shops around Prospect Street and Emmer Green, with its traditional village green and duck pond, offers easy access to the countryside.
- Whitley — less picturesque but extremely convenient for the Green Park Business Park.
- Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross — charming rural villages to the south of Reading that are conveniently close to Junction 11 of the M4
- Tilehurst — good shopping and its own railway station make this a popular choice.
- West Reading and Oxford Road — most of the Victorian houses in this area has been converted into apartments. It suits young urbanites who enjoy the ethnic vibe, party atmosphere and proximity to the centre of town.
- Redlands — the property in the vicinity of the University is largely given over to student accommodation but there are still some redbrick terraced houses that may be worth a look.
- Woodley and Earley — close to the university, the older parts of Woodley and Earley boast some of Reading’s finest Victorian houses. There is good shopping but also a number of planned new housing estates.
- Newtown — this Victorian village was built to house the workers at a biscuit factory. To the east of the town centre it is well located for the M4 and London and there has been much recent private development.
- Southcote and Calcot — to the west and south-west of the town centre, post-war and 1970s developments characterise these areas.
Further out there are plenty of small villages to be explored. The most notable of these are Sonning Common, Shiplake and Lower Shiplake, Renemham, Hambledon, Twyford, Charvil, Waltham St Lawrence, Shurlock Row, Hurst, Wargrave, Barkham, Finchampstead, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Yately, Burghfield Common, the Mortimers, Theale, Pangbourne and many others. Towns within commuting distance of Reading include Marlow, Henley-on-Thames, Bracknell, Ascot, Slough and Newbury.
With regard to property rental, you will probably find a good range of two to four bedroom properties in Earley, Woodley, Caversham and Tilehurst — and the further into the countryside you go, the more you should expect to pay.
Who lives here and why?
With a thriving economy and large areas of regeneration, although Reading once had a reputation as being somewhat less than attractive, things are changing fast. The new railway station redevelopment is enhancing its position as a major transport hub and the growing reputation of its university is also drawing people to the area.
Some of Reading’s most famous residents, past and present, include:
- Writers Jane Austin and Oscar Wilde
- Actors Sir Kenneth Branagh, Jacqueline Bisset and Kate Winslet
- Comedian Ricky Gervais
- Directors David Lean and Sam Mendes
- Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
- Musician Mike Oldfield of Tubular Bells fame
- Racing driver Ayrton Senna
It’s true that the centre of Reading is not one of the UK’s most historic town centres but it has plenty of other things going for it. There are more than 100 parks and playgrounds and five miles of riverside paths. You can still see the Abbey Gateway, through which Jane Austen passed on her way into school and, less salubriously, Reading Prison which was immortalised in the Ballad of Reading Goal by Oscar Wilde.
Reading also acts as a cultural centre for the area, posting a 700 seat concert hall in the Town Hall and several small theatres. Every year the Reading Festival attracts music fans for a three-day extravaganza of rock and pop music on Kings Meadow by the River Thames.
Outside London, Reading is one of the south east’s most important commercial hubs.
- In fact, it has been dubbed Europe’s Silicon Valley, with 13 of the world’s top 30 IT brands having offices in the area.
- It is also home to a number of major insurance companies.
- Despite being within commuting distance of London, Reading maintains a net inward commute.
- It is the area’s most important retail centre.
- Major companies based in Reading include Microsoft, Oracle, Yell Group, Prudential, PepsiCo, Wrigley, Ericsson, ING Direct, Symantec and Cisco.
- There are major business parks including Thames Valley Park, Green Park Business Park and Arlington Business Park.
- Reading UK CIC is an economic development company that has been established to enhance Reading’s commercial status as a key business location for Europe. Its activities include influencing policy, marketing, promotion and PR, coordination of stakeholders and skills for business, and business investment, support and intelligence.
- Having proved itself one of the most recession resilient cities in the UK, Reading was awarded the accolade of European Micro City of the Future by the Financial Times recently.
The Best Bits
Reading is nothing if not well-connected:
- Reading railway station is one of the busiest in the UK with frequent trains to London, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Wales, Surrey and Hampshire. It is currently undergoing an £850 million redevelopment, while a new railway station has been proposed on the Reading to Basingstoke line to service the Green Park Business Park.
- The M4 motorway connects Reading with London, Bristol and Wales.
- Heathrow Airport is within a 30 minute drive for domestic and international flights.
- With the arrival of Crossrail in 2018, Reading will have a high speed connection cutting right through the centre of London and out to the east.
- Reading Buses operates a good network of local bus services, within the borough and to outlying villages.
Bringing the Kids
If you and your family are being relocated to Reading, you’ll be relieved to hear that the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ Reading itself is a town rather than a metropolis and the surrounding countryside is stunningly beautiful. If you choose to live in the town, there are parks, a riverfront, museums, excellent shopping and good sports facilities. Rugby is probably readings biggest sport — the Aviva Premiership team London Irish plays here and there are three further semiprofessional rugby clubs. Rowing is popular at the university and the town has an annual regatta, as well as a half marathon every year in March. Further afield, you’ll find pretty villages and small market towns, many of which have their own road and rail links into both Reading and London.
With regard to education, there is a wide choice of schools:
- The local education authority runs 39 primary schools in and around the area.
- Several of these are affiliated with the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.
- There are eight state maintained secondary schools in Reading, including two grammar schools, a girls-only school and a Catholic school.
- There are seven independent schools to choose from, including the Abbey School and the Reading Blue Coat School.
- Reading University falls within the top 1% of the world’s universities and has a good reputation for biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, with a research income of over £50 million per annum.
Relocating to Reading
As one of the south east’s busiest commercial hubs, Reading is attracting an increasing number of blue chip corporations to set up offices either in the town centre or the surrounding business parks. The area has seen an influx of expat relocates, not least because it offers an excellent balance for work/family life. Excellent travel connections, good shopping, green spaces and sporting facilities, cultural events, a wide choice of schools and a good variety of property and lifestyles mean there’s something for everyone. And as well as the town itself, there are plenty of pretty country villages roundabout to choose from.
But where to start? If you don’t know the area, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when looking for a property, and access to someone with good knowledge of the local rental market is virtually essential. Add to that further considerations such as convenience for work, access to suitable schools, transport links for trips back home… This is when employing the services of a relocation agent can really help.
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. We know London property inside out, we know how much you should expect to pay and the advantages and disadvantages of choosing different areas. We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – here or to other parts of London and the UK. 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.
Reading is an area that has seen an influx of expats, not least because it offers excellent work life balance. This location offers excellent travel connections, good shopping, plenty of green spaces and sporting facilities, cultural events, a wide choice of schools, and a wide variety of great homes.
Average Monthly Rent - Reading