With the UK now into the warm summer months, people are on the move, looking for more space, better commute times, gardens, and more.
Experts often discuss which London boroughs are ideal for commuters and investors, but many pockets throughout the capital are also family-friendly. So, here at Portico, we thought it was time to do a deep analytic dive into the latest data to reveal what London neighbourhoods really are the most family-friendly.
All of the up-to-the-minute data used has been manually drawn from the UK's largest property portal, Rightmove, to give you an exclusive insight into all the essential property trends and statistics regarding the best places to live in London for families.
Having collated and cross-referenced a colossal amount of data, we have scored each borough based on the following family-friendly criteria:
When taking all of these factors into account and totalling each borough’s scores, we have arrived at the top ten best places to live in London for families in 2022.
Hillingdon, the second largest and westernmost borough of London may not immediately strike you as one of the more family friendly areas of the capital, yet it takes our top spot.
The proximity to Heathrow can cause some noise issues, although noise restrictions in place between 11.30pm and 6am help somewhat. The airport has also introduced a vast number of jobs to the area, significantly contributing to the economic success of Hillingdon.
Aside from Heathrow, Hillingdon features a variety of thriving towns, plenty of green space, and a good selection of reputable schools. It also benefits from a relatively low crime rate of 75 incidents p/1000 people p/yr, and a high likelihood of finding a property with parking (52%) and freehold leasing options (76%). With 57% of properties featuring outdoor space and 56% with gardens, there is a reasonable chance of finding room for the kids to play outside, too.
Hillingdon currently has 246 three-bedroom properties listed for sale on Rightmove, and the average property price for a three-bedroom property takes it into the top ten across all boroughs, coming in at £577,192. Many of the most affordable three-bedroom properties can be found in Hayes and Harlington, Middlesex, and West Drayton.
Taking second place behind Hillingdon, Kingston-upon-Thames is a highly desirable family borough with a wealth of retail options and a wide selection of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ Ofsted schools.
With an average three-bedroom property price of £774,833, it isn’t the cheapest borough by far, coming in 20th for affordability. Nevertheless, with a healthy budget to work with, families stand a great chance of finding spacious living in Kingston-upon-Thames, with the borough scoring the highest for properties with outside space (69%), and gardens (63%), and scoring well for parking (45%) and freehold options (73%) too.
Residents in Kingston-upon-Thames also benefit from living in the 2nd safest borough in London by current crime rate statistics, with 66 incidents p/1000 people p/yr. Like most of the top ten family-friendly boroughs, Kingston-upon-Thames enjoys a relatively low population density, with 12,344 people per sq. mile.
Originally favoured by Kings and Queens seeking open hunting grounds and fresh country air, Richmond-upon-Thames is still a highly desirable area for families and retired couples, with an array of highly reputable schools and a strong sense of community.
This borough is one of the more expensive options, with an average three-bedroom property price of £919,082, however there are currently 20 three-bedroom properties on the market for under £500,000 - many of which can be found in Hampton, and Twickenham.
Richmond-upon-Thames is the safest of all London boroughs, with a rate of 55 incidents p/1000 p/yr. It has also retained its spacious reputation, with a high percentage of homes with outdoor space (62%) and gardens (57%).
Perfectly positioned between the urban pace of city life and the beautiful rural Essex countryside, Havering offers its residents a calm lifestyle with an abundance of open space, reputable schools and excellent retail facilities in nearby Romford.
Havering takes the number one spot for the percentage of freehold leases available (88%), and also scores very well in terms of properties with parking (50%), and low incidence of crime (66 p/1000 people p/yr). The borough offers a reasonable chance of finding a property with outdoor space (54%) or a garden (52%). Distances to the closest school (0.25 miles) scores a little low in comparison to other boroughs, although the average across London is 0.18 miles, so there is not a vast difference.
There are a reasonable number of three-bedroom properties currently listed (221), many of which are in Hornchurch and Romford, Upminster and Rainham. The current average price of a property in Havering is £523,146 (the 5th cheapest across all 32 boroughs), with many of the most affordable three-bedrooms situated in Rainham, Hornchurch, and Romford.
Rich in cultural diversity, Harrow residents enjoy a far quieter way of life than pockets closer to central London. Coming in 12th out of all boroughs for affordability, current average property prices sit at £632,310 for a three-bedroom home, although there are a dozen three-bedroom bargain properties currently on the market for under £400,000, many of which can be found in Middlesex and Edgware.
With 62% of properties featuring outdoor space, 56% with a garden and 48% with parking, families in Harrow can enjoy the space and relatively low crime rate (62 incidents p/1000 people p/yr) that the borough offers.
One of London’s greenest boroughs, and known for its high quality schools, it’s little wonder that Redbridge makes the list. With 233 three-bedroom listings it falls a little shy of the average available per borough (303), yet it scores well on the number of properties with gardens (49%), and outdoor space (53%), properties with parking (37%), and the area features a good percentage of freehold options (73%).
With a population of around 14,000 people per square mile, it isn’t too crowded, and the crime rate sits a little under the capital’s average at 78 incidents per/1000 people /yr.The average price of a three-bedroom property in Redbridge is currently £558,677, with a 27 currently listed for under £400,000 - many of these can be found in Ilford and Woodford Green.
Another of London’s greenest areas, Bexley sits on the border of Kent and boasts over 100 parks, highly-rated schools, and a balanced city-country ambience.
Coming in second for the lowest average property prices by borough, Bexley also scores very highly on freehold options (83%) and first for properties with parking (57%). Property options in Bexley offer a reasonable chance of a garden (51%) or other outdoor space (51%), and it’s also famed for having a low rate of crime, coming in at just under 60 incidents p/1000 people p/yr.
With just 116 three-bedroom properties currently listed on Rightmove, Bexley’s popularity with families can make it tricky to get your foot in the door. Still, with an average three-bedroom property price of £509,034, it offers great affordability. Another family-friendly borough that benefits from a lower number of people per square mile (10,620), some of the most affordable housing options in Bexley are located in Abbey Wood, Welling, Erith, and Belvedere.
The tranquil borough of Sutton offers families that quintessential mix of central London proximity and rural living. It is also one of the most affordable boroughs - coming in 4th overall with an average three-bedroom property price of £512,968. There are a good number of freehold options (73%), 54% of properties with outdoor space, 49% with gardens, and 22% with parking.
Families head for Sutton for its rural spacious living and affordable prices, as well as wanting to live in one of the safest boroughs in London - Sutton is the 4th safest borough with 62 incidents p/1000 people pr/yr.
There are only 95 three-bedroom properties currently listed for sale in Sutton on Rightmove, although 20 of these are available for below £400,000. Most of these great deals can be found in Hackbridge and Carshalton.
London’s second largest borough, Barnet is full of nature reserves, open spaces, and family-friendly parks.
Barnet on the whole is not the most affordable borough by a fair amount, coming in 21st with an average three-bedroom property price of £897,436. Still, it remains in the realms of affordability when compared to some of the most expensive boroughs, but more on those later.
What Barnet does have going for it in spades is that it comes 3rd for the boroughs with the most properties that feature parking (51%), and there is also a reasonable probability of finding a property with a garden (48%) or other outdoor space (56%). It is also the 9th safest borough, with 68 incidents p/1000 p/yr.
Another attractive merit for Barnet is the relatively low population density, with around 11,821 per square mile (compared to the most densely populated borough of Tower Hamlets with approximately 42,562 people per square mile, Barnet residents have some considerable space to enjoy).
Barnet also has many three-bedroom properties to choose from, with 460 currently listed on Rightmove. Many of the most affordable three-bedroom properties in Barnet can be snapped up for around £400,000 and are located in areas such as Hendon, Edgware, and Hertfordshire.
Waltham Forest comes in second for the borough with the highest percentages of properties with outside space (63%) and gardens (58%). It is the 12th safest borough, with 79 incidents p/1000 people p/yr, and also offers a reasonable number of freehold options (68%).
Average three-bedroom property prices in Waltham Forest sit at £612,371, and although there are currently under 200 three-bedroom listings on Rightmove for the borough, many can be found for under £500,000, with a handful under £400,000 - many of these are in Chingford and Walthamstow.
Boasting 500 acres of green space, Waltham Forest offers plenty of room for families to enjoy getting outside, and the borough is home to several highly reputable primary schools, making it a popular borough for young families.
Now that we’ve uncovered the top five family-friendly boroughs based on overall measured scores, let’s take a closer look at how each borough stacks up in the individual categories.
Average house prices range dramatically across all 32 London boroughs, from £430,553 for a three-bedroom property in Barking & Dagenham to £3,259,971 for a three-bedroom home in Westminster.
Of course, affordability and value for money aren’t necessarily one-and-the-same, but ultimately, buying a property comes largely down to budget, so let’s have a look at where the cheapest and most expensive London boroughs are in terms of average property prices.
As you can see from the table, the top five cheapest places to buy property in London are the boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Sutton, and Havering. From there, the boroughs that still come in under the £600,000 mark are Redbridge, Newham, Hillingdon, Bromley, and Lewisham.
Even though Barking & Dagenham tops the list for the most affordable housing in terms of average prices, it has the fewest number of 3-bedroom houses available (93) out of all London boroughs. Nevertheless, with a high percentage of freehold options (87%) and a reasonably low crime rate, Barking & Dagenham wasn’t too far out of the top ten, coming in 18th for the best family-friendly London borough.
The second most affordable borough of Bexley did make it into our overall top ten family-friendly areas - even though it too has relatively few three-bedroom properties available (116), it scores highly for properties with parking (57%), freehold options (83%), and is the second safest borough of London.
Croydon, the third cheapest place to buy property, came 14th overall as the most family-friendly borough. Despite such attractive prices, there are slightly less properties with outdoor space (52%), gardens (47%), and parking (36%).
What caused such a relatively low family-friendly score despite the great prices, however, was the crime rate in Croydon, coming in as one of the higher of all boroughs, ranking 16th (see below for more info on borough crime rates), though still at a relatively low 84.8 incidents p/1,000 people p/yr.
Not surprisingly, Westminster takes gold for the most expensive London properties, followed closely by Kensington & Chelsea. From there, all other boroughs in the £million + club are Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, Wandsworth, and Islington.
The majority of these expensive London suburbs also offer little chance of scoring any outside space or gardens, with Westminster coming last out of all boroughs - just 32% of properties have outdoor space and only 16% have gardens. Freehold options are also relatively scarce - between 8% in Westminster and 25% in Lambeth, low figures compared to the London borough average of 49%. Parking can also be hard to come by, ranging from just 11% of properties with parking in Islington, to 22% in Camden.
Of course, these areas are nevertheless highly desirable places to live overall - central city proximity, high-end shopping and amenities and outstanding dining options - it all just comes at a price. Westminster is also the capital’s least safe borough, with 202 incidents of crime p/1,000 people p/yr. It’s easy to see why the most expensive areas of London haven’t made it into the list of the most family-friendly boroughs despite their overall popularity.
As of May 2022, the number of three-bedroom ‘family friendly’ properties listed on Rightmove differs significantly from borough to borough.
Westminster has a staggering 949 three-bedroom properties available compared to the overall average of 303 per London borough. Many Westminster three-bedroom properties at the cheaper end of the range fall into the £600,000 to £800,000 category and can be found in neighbourhoods such as Maida Vale, Bayswater, and Pimlico. Despite so many three-bedroom options, the property prices and higher crime rate mean Westminster didn’t fall into our top ‘family-friendly’ chart, though no doubt some wealthy families call the affluent borough home.
All of our top ten family-friendly boroughs fall within the lowest 16 boroughs for three-bedroom availability, yet in the top 17 for boroughs with the most outdoor space and gardens. It is likely that the lower number of three-bedroom property listings is due to high family demand in those boroughs.
Across all London boroughs, the average percentage of properties with outdoor space is 52%, and the average percentage of properties with a garden is 44%. Overall, the percentage of properties with any outdoor space of any kind is 48%.
In the table below, boroughs are presented in order from the most outdoor/garden space to the least when combined, as some have a higher percentage of outdoor space than garden space and vice versa.
Five of our most family-friendly boroughs fall into the top five for outdoor space and/or gardens, and all within the top 17. Families need space and being able to live within commuting distance to central London in a property with outdoor/garden areas for children to play is ideal.
Lewisham is the first borough on this list that doesn’t fall into our top ten family-friendly ranks, coming in 14th overall. Although Lewisham does have a good deal of properties that offer outdoor space, it falls a little short in the way of parking (37%). In addition, its crime rate, at 86 incidents p/1,000 p/yr is around the London average (88) - not the worst by far, but still higher than many boroughs.
The boroughs with the least outdoor space are ironically the most expensive, too, with Westminster, Hackney, and Kensington & Chelsea coming first, second, and fourth respectively on the property price charts. Of course, these areas are valuable due to their location and luxury as opposed to the square-footage on offer.
The availability of parking in a city like London is always a contentious issue, with some arguing that too much space is taken up for parking, and others complaining that there is never enough. Solutions such as ride-sharing and renting out private parking space continue to attempt to broach the issue, but difficulties still remain.
Thankfully, London has an extensive transportation system that allows for carless commuting with relative ease, but parking at home can still be an issue. So where are the best boroughs to find properties with parking space included?
For many families, owning a freehold property in a London borough is the ultimate goal. Owning a property ‘freehold’ is to completely own both the property and the piece of land it is built upon.
There are some significant advantages to owning a freehold property. Freeholds come with complete control over the property, permanent ownership and the absence of any further payments, such as service charges, ground rents or other admin fees that are usually applicable with leaseholds. For families in particular, the benefits of owning a freehold property allow for greater security and freedom when it comes to renovations, pets, etc.
The percentage of freehold properties differs quite dramatically between boroughs, ranging from just 8% in Westminster to 88% in Havering.
The data we collected includes the average distance to the closest school for each borough as an essential factor for London family living. Although there isn’t a significant difference between boroughs, when you factor in London traffic, it's worth noting where the prime spots are for convenient family living.
It’s important to note that these crime rates are all relatively low, and London is still comparably a safe city. In fact, Economists Safe Cities Index research revealed that London is the fourteenth safest city in the world.
The table below outlines the annual crime incident rates per borough, as well as the number of incident rates per 1,000 people per year for a comprehensive insight into the rate of crime in relation to the population density of each borough.
As previously discussed, Westminster’s crime rate (202) is significantly higher than the London average of 88 incidents p/1,000 p/yr. It is generally considered that the borough’s tourist intensity contributes to its petty crime statistics.
Meanwhile, the boroughs with the seven lowest crime rates also feature in our top ten family-friendly boroughs. The safest borough is Richmond upon Thames, closely followed by Bexley, Merton, Harrow, and Sutton. As aforementioned, Richmond upon Thames is one of the more expensive boroughs, but with some three-bedroom properties available around the £400,000 - 500,000 mark.
By and large, the same handful of boroughs tend to be at the top or bottom of each data set, depending on the criteria - there is a distinct pattern across the metrics used that clearly shows which boroughs are typically the most family-friendly and which are the least.
From there, the boroughs in-between tend to fare averagely across all measures. These boroughs are:
These boroughs tend to fly under the radar on most data sets, ultimately determining them to be relatively family-friendly boroughs in their own right, without typically ranking as the most or least of any one metric.
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