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Moving to Reading

Expats moving to Reading, a town in the southeast of England, will find a place that is home to a diverse, well-educated and creative population.

Reading is a thriving commercial hub with a strong involvement in Britain’s information technology and insurance sectors. Thanks to the city's rapid rate of growth it has a rather buoyant housing market with new developments constantly being built. Entrepreneurs are also starting to see value in the city and choosing it as a good alternative business location to the oversaturated London market.

The lifestyle in Reading is never dull, with a lively music and arts scene –  not to mention the famous Reading Festival each summer. There’s also a small range of museums and art galleries to keep residents busy, and those that enjoy sport will find that there are plenty of ways to keep fit. 

Those moving to Reading with children will be pleased to know that it’s home to a number of high-performing schools. While there are no international schools in the town itself, there are many in nearby London that offer boarding options. The town is also home to the University of Reading, a redbrick institution that’s especially good for students interested in studying climate change.

Accommodation in Reading

After a property boom of a few years, Reading's housing market is slowing down. However, this does mean that houses can be purchased at a lower cost, which can work in the buyer's favour.

Whether expats are looking to rent or buy property in Reading, they are sure to have a lot of options, but it’s also important to note that rental prices remain fairly expensive. 

Types of accommodation in Reading

There are many different types of housing in Reading, including houses, bungalows, apartments, maisonettes and studios. Expats looking for more spacious accommodation will usually find it in the form of old Victorian villas. New developments of the edge of town add to the variety of options available to those looking for family homes. New apartment complexes are popping up in the city centre and these are particularly popular with young professionals and couples.

Finding accommodation in Reading

Most people relocating to Reading will find that their employer will help them in their search for a home, but for those who need to do this on their own, the best place to start is to approach an estate agent. These professionals will have an intimate knowledge of Reading’s market and can alert clients to properties that haven’t been advertised publically. Local newspapers are also useful sources of information and there are usually plenty of listings on internet property portals. 

Signing a lease in Reading

Lease agreements are typically signed on a six-month or one-year basis, with the option to renew. Tenants may also be required to pay up to six weeks’ rent as a security deposit and will need to supply references from employers and previous landlords.

Utilities in Reading

Rental contracts vary, so expats need to be careful and know exactly what’s covered in the cost of their rent. Additional costs such as council tax, gas and electricity, water, phone line and broadband rental can cause monthly expenses to shoot up.

Areas and Suburbs in Reading

Factors shaping an expat’s decision on which neighbourhood of Reading to live in are likely to include proximity to work and good schools, transport links, the demographic mix of residents, and the types and prices of property available. 

Below are some of Reading’s most popular areas.

Neighbourhoods in Reading


North of Reading’s city centre and close to the Thames, Caversham is a popular area and home to an excellent shopping centre and a number of good restaurants. But property prices can be quite high, especially around Caversham Heights.

West Reading

This vibrant area is very popular among renters and first-time buyers. Properties in this part of Reading are mainly Victorian terraces, some of which have been tastefully converted to modern standards. This is probably the most multi-cultural part of the city and is full of ethnic shops and eateries. Transport links into the town centre are also good. 


Just two miles (3km) from the centre of Reading and close to the town’s university, this neighbourhood still retains much of its old village feel and has plenty of green spaces as well as a lake. It’s also well serviced by bus and rail links, although the major downside of living here is the high price of rental properties.


This family-friendly part of Reading boasts larger houses with gardens and open green spaces, as well as a number of newer residential developments. Woodley has a good shopping centre and it’s home to a handful of good state-funded schools.

Education and Schools in Reading

For expats moving to Reading with children, making the right choice when it comes to picking a school is a top priority as this will play a significant role in ensuring a successful transition into expat life. Factors that will affect the choice of school include the child’s previous schooling experience, academic ability and English language capability.

Most government-funded schools in the UK and some private schools base admission on catchment areas, so it’s important to consider schooling options before deciding where to live. Private schools and international schools with boarding facilities offer greater flexibility.

Typically, the academic year in the United Kingdom starts in September and ends in July, with the main breaks in December, March/April and July/August. 

State-funded schools in Reading

State schools are provided by the government at no cost to British citizens and foreigners legally living in the UK. These are effectively funded by taxes. The standard of education at these schools varies considerably, however. Some offer excellent teaching and facilities, while others continue to perform badly in terms of the academic results. Generally, the better state-funded schools are found in more affluent areas.

Private schools in Reading

The UK has a tradition of private schools (also called independent schools). These generally follow the British national curriculum with a wider range of subjects, while others are starting to offer students the opportunity to study for the International Baccalaureate. The standard of teaching is generally good and class sizes are small. However, fees are usually high and parents should also budget a substantial amount for extra expenses such as uniforms and stationery. 

International schools in Reading

International schools are a popular option for expats families living in the United Kingdom. They follow different curricula from across the globe and often allow students to continue studying their home syllabus. As such, they’re good for those who don’t plan on living in the UK in the long-term. But fees are hefty, so expats considering this option should try to negotiate an education allowance into their employment contracts.

While there are no international schools in Reading, London isn’t far away and it boasts the widest selection of international schools in the United Kingdom. Many of these offer boarding options, which is good for those that don’t want their children to have to commute to the capital every day. 

Lifestyle in Reading

The lifestyle in Reading is full of fantastic options for shopping, culture and outdoor activities – and once expats have exhausted all their options in Reading, London is less than an hour away.

Shopping in Reading

Expats living in Reading will be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping experiences. Broad Street, a pedestrianised thoroughfare in the centre of Reading, is a primary shopping spot for residents, while Harris Arcade has a unique collection of stores and independent boutiques.

Arts and culture in Reading

Expats will find plenty to keep themselves entertained in Reading. Those who enjoy the theatre can catch performances at the Hexagon and 21 South Street, both of which host a range of music and theatre shows.

The Museum of Reading provides insight into local culture, traditions and art and holds a fascinating collection of Roman artefacts. There are also a handful of galleries, including The Lemongrove Gallery and The Castle Galleries, which display some interesting contemporary art pieces.

Sports and outdoor activities in Reading

Those that enjoy being outdoors will find there’s a lot on offer in and around Reading. Expats can visit Basildon Park to see an example of a beautifully preserved stately home and enjoy a summer picnic on the grounds. Caversham Court Gardens is another great spot to spend a summer’s day along the Thames. 

There are also plenty of hiking trails in the countryside surrounding Reading, and expats who enjoy watching sport can catch Reading FC and London Irish Rugby Club playing home games in the Madejski Stadium. 

Getting Around in Reading

Buses are the main mode of public transportation in Reading and it's easy to catch one almost anywhere in the town. Trains are the best way to get out of Reading and rail commuters can get to London in less than an hour.

Public transport in Reading


The city’s efficient bus network is operated by Reading Buses. There are several buses each hour on weekdays on most routes, but services at evenings and on weekends are less frequent. The routes that extend further out of town have less frequent services, so it’s best for expats to consult a schedule when planning journeys. Single fares are fairly expensive, so it’s advisable to invest in a weekly, monthly or annual pass if one plans on using public transport regularly.


Reading is a major junction point on the UK’s national rail system, with Reading Station linking to both Paddington and Waterloo stations in London. Non-stop trains to Paddington take only 30 minutes, which makes it very feasible for people to commute from Reading to London for work.  

Driving in Reading

Owning a car isn’t essential, but can be useful, especially for expats with children as well as those who want to explore the countryside during their free time. Traffic in Reading isn’t as bad as in London, but roads still get congested during peak hours. Finding parking in the centre of Reading can be a hassle, but most shopping centres and industrial parks have lots of spaces.