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Living in Reading
A comprehensive guide about living well in Reading
Situated just 40 miles (approx. 65 km) west of London, Reading is a prosperous town with much to offer for newcomers to the area. The combination of a great infrastructure, a successful local economy, a vibrant atmosphere and excellent schools make life in Reading an attractive option for expats.
Life in Reading
Education in Reading
The UK government inspectorate for schools, Ofsted, is responsible for assessing schools and publishes league tables which allow parents to understand which schools are the best performing in the area. You can find inspection results for schools in Reading and other areas at their website.
In the UK, primary education is for children aged 5 to 11 and secondary education between ages 11 to 18. The school year is divided into three terms, with a long summer break. Reading has many high performing state schools to choose from as well as a wide selection of private schools. World class establishments such as Eton College and Wellington College are also in easy reach of Reading.
There are no international schools in Reading itself, but if you particularly want your children to attend an international school there are several to choose from in London, including The American School in London, the International School of London, the Southbank School of London, and the Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle.
The redbrick University of Reading is ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world. The research intensive university has a number of specialist areas, including biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, and works in partnership with major corporations. The university welcomes students from overseas.
Transportation in Reading
The primary form of public transport in Reading is the local bus network. Taxis are also widely available. Cycling is popular in the town, which has a scheme in operation for bicycle sharing. There are good rail links in and around Reading, with the mainline between London Paddington and the South West and South Wales operating via Reading Station.
Frequent services also operate from London Waterloo to Reading. You can reach London in as little as 30 minutes by train, and London Heathrow Airport is just half an hour away by car. Alternatively, you could make use of the RailAir coach service between Reading and Heathrow.
If you intend to drive in the UK while living in Reading, you will need to ensure you have an appropriate driver’s license. You can find out whether you are permitted to drive in the UK with your local driving license at Gov.uk.
Driving is on the left hand side so UK cars have the driver’s seat on the right hand side of the car, and the majority of vehicles have manual transmission rather than automatic, which can take some getting used to. Unless otherwise indicated by road signs, on major roads the standard speed limit is 60 mph (about 95 km/h) for single carriageways and 70 mph (110 km/h) on dual carriageways and motorways. For even more information on driving and more, you can also take a look at our dedicated guide section on Transport & Driving in the UK.
Culture and Leisure
Theaters such as the Hexagon and the Progress Theatre put on plays and other entertainment throughout the year, and there is a large multi-screen movie theatre at the Oracle Centre. If you seek more cultural variety than Reading has to offer, London is just a short journey away, with its extensive range of theaters and concert venues.
Shopping facilities in Reading include the Broad Street shopping mall and the Oracle Centre, and if you want to dine out there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, including several which have been awarded Michelin stars.
There is a wide range of sporting facilities in Reading and the surrounding area. There are leisure centers in town where you can swim, train in the gym, or play racquet sports. On the outskirts and in nearby areas, you will find golf courses and water sports parks with facilities for water skiing and wakeboarding.
If you are moving to Reading with children you will find plenty to do in the area. The town has child friendly museums and there are parks and nature trails to explore. Legoland Windsor is around half an hour’s drive from Reading and makes a great day out for families with young children, while teenagers love the thrills of the bigger rides at Thorpe Park and Chessington theme parks, which can be reached by car in around an hour.
There are many places of historic interest to visit in the area, such as Windsor Castle, one of the royal palaces, and many magnificent estates in the ownership of the UK’s leading conservation charity, the National Trust.
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