UK City Guide

Greater London

Greater London
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Greater London

You could place a pretty good wager that if you're moving to the UK, you'll be moving to London. Not only is it one of the world's largest cities (by population), it is also an economy in its own right, hoovering people in from around the world. London is arguably the most global city on the planet - in spite of Brexit. And given its dynamic nature not much has changed even after the double whammy of Covid and the UK's divorce with the Eurpean Union.

London is also very wealthy (just take a stroll around Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Chelsea, Notting Hill...). It has the highest GVA per capita in the United Kingdom at £37,232, although that wealth is not spread evenly.  Some neighbourhoods have estimated per capita GVA as high as £116,800 ($162,200).

London dominates the UK – politically and economically. It generates approximately 22 per cent of the the country’s GDP. There are 841,000 private sector businesses, more than in any other region or country in the UK. To give that some sense of scale, London's economy is roughly the same size as that of Sweden’s or Iran’s.

London was the most populated city in the world until overtaken by New York in 1925. and is still the most populous city and metropolitan area within the European Union with 8.1 million plus people - well over 9 million is you use the Greater London built up area as your area.

The area's population density of 4,761 people per square kilometre makes its population density more than ten times that of any other British region.

You're new to London? So what - so are millions around you! Over a quarter of the area's population are born outside the UK, and more than one in 2 classed as non-white.

London has been a focus for immigration for centuries, whether as a place of safety or for economic reasons. Nothing changes, or more accurately, and in the language of Notting Hill, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Getting around

To some degree you have already arrived. Whilst for many other regions of the UK, getting around is defined – to a lesser or greater degree – in terms of access and speed to the capital, in the case of Greater London well this clearly does not apply.

The infuriating truth however is that your commute to work can be longer living in London than for some people living quite far outside its borders.

Imagine you are a banker for example (I know, a terrible affliction). If you are chances are your offices will be somewhere around Liverpool Street station. Provided you are coming from a town or city on a direct route to the station, your journey in (train overcrowding aside) could be faster and more comfortable than someone coming in by tube, changing two or three times along the way.

The key therefore is to triangulate rent versus speed versus speed of access when choosing where to live, and to appreciate that in the Bermuda triangle of London, nothing makes much sense when it comes to commuting times.

You’ll also need to consider space (the amount of which you can have will vary massively depending upon where you live. By massively, we mean relatively. This is the UK, you’re not going to get much space anywhere), the community you’re living in, facilities (parks, cafes, libraries, gyms), nearby schools (people move close to a good one to improve the chances of their children getting a place at it) – and so on.

The only thing you can be sure of, is that the closer you find something approaching what you would ideally want, the further it will have gone way past your allocated budget.


London is home to some of the finest British public schools in the country. Up to the age of 16 it is also home to many, many very good state schools.

At GCSE, the best borough is Kingston upon Thames, closely followed by Sutton. Both boroughs have selective schools, and get the top two average GCSE results in England for LEAs.

Next is Kensington and Chelsea, the third best in England, then Redbridge, Hammersmith and Fulham, Bromley, Barnet and Harrow.

Only ten boroughs have GCSE results under the England average, and some inner-London boroughs have surprisingly good results considering where they lie on the scale of deprivation, e.g. Lambeth. Overall at GCSE in 2009, Greater London had the best results for regions of England.

At A-level, the average results for LEAs are disappointing compared to their good GCSE results. Although Kingston upon Thames gets the best GCSE results in England, at A-level it is not even above average. Sutton gets the best A-level results in London and in England. Three of the schools in the top four at A-level in London are in Sutton. It has only one independent school. The few other boroughs with above-average A-level results are Havering, Barnet, Bexley, Redbridge, and Ealing.

The poor A-level results in many London boroughs is explained by the quantity of independent schools (see below) getting good A-level results. The state school system is often bypassed at age 16 by the more able pupils. 

London is also served very well by 'international' schools, details of which you will (increasingly) find below.

Greater London Communities
Greater London’s Top Schools
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