Find a home, find a school – a chicken and egg situation…

Find the perfect home, get your kids into the perfect school. This is what you (could) do. At least it’s what I found to be the most useful strategy:

a)    Go to Rightmove, look up a property in an area you are interested in, and click on the Map & Schools tab (easier on a PC than mobile device). You can specify primary or secondary school. The map will show all schools in the area (zoom out if you want to increase the radius), and you can click through for additional information on each. (“Independent school” means private, fee-paying).

b)    Read more about individual schools on RM School Finder (linked to the rightmove school entry). Look for Ofsted rating ‘Outstanding’, or ‘Good’ at the minimum. Also check the schools’ websites. Depending on which time of year you have arrived, you may be able to arrange a tour of the school (call directly), or go to their summer / Christmas fair (check website).

c)    For state schools in the area you are interested in, check the Borough’s school admission pages. Are there special admissions criteria? You may also want to look at the neighbouring Borough’s information if you live near the border and there are interesting schools on the other side.

d)    If you have a specific property in mind, and want to send your kid to

– a state school: Call Borough’s school admissions office. They will be able to tell you a) if there is a waiting list (likely), and b) your child’s position on that list, at that time. First on the list? Hip hip hooray!….but a word of warning: This is just an indication of chances you may get in! You can’t apply until you have actually moved into your property, and your child can move up or down even then.

– a private school: Call the school directly. Here, proximity has no bearing on your chances to get in – i.e. you can start picking private schools before you know where exactly you will be living. Many private schools run a bus service (payable) along predetermined routes for older kids.

Now I have given away all my secrets…happy searching! If you’d like some help for SW London (Boroughs of Richmond and Kingston), get in touch with me.


  1. We are moving to Hertfordshire in for the beginning of the school year in September 2017. We aim to leave earlier to allow for settling in and finding a home. The down side for our children is that they will need to be taken out of school in Australia halfway through our school year. I haven’t found many other families who have chosen to make the same move in their children’s lives. Is it best to book services accomodation prior to leaving? How long does it take to find rental accommodation (we can’t afford to buy)? A lot of the information that you have supplied about school I am already aware of thanks to an extensive amount of research.

    1. Hi Jules,
      I’m afraid I don’t now anything about Hertfordshire. You probably have already, but I would check Rightmove or any other of the property sites for how much is available. It will greatly facilitate signing a rental agreement if you have a bank account in the UK – try to make arrangements with a bank before you move. From finding the property we ended up in to actually moving in with signed agreement took about 10 days (incl. background checks in the US). Some estate agents may be faster.?. But, you also need time to find a property, and you’ll be rather jet-lagged, with kids… so maybe 3 weeks all in all. All the best, Maike

  2. We might have to move to London sometime soon my daughter is in the 1st grade in a public school in the states. We plan to move back at some point and since they dont have IB in the public schools in London do you know if we need to look for alternate options. Any advice is helpful.

    I would rater she goes to a public school but not at the cost of that affecting her transition.


    1. Hi,
      This is beyond my experience, so just my view: I’m not sure where you are moving from, but I can’t imagine that a few years at a UK school at the primary school stage in your daughter’s education would be a problem. Unless you think you would stay up beyond age 13 or 14? There are a few state schools in London that offer the IB, by the way.
      All the best

  3. Thank you appreciate it.

  4. Patricia Stamato · · Reply

    I’m moving to London with my family (husband and 2 kids – 7 and 9 years old) in December, due to my husband will study at London Business School for 1 year.
    We are looking for a place to live as well as a school for the kids.
    Initially, we are thinking about living close to LBS, but I’m not sure if it is the best option. High prices and small places.
    Do you have any suggestion about neighbors and good school for my kids, considering LBS region?
    Thank you so much.

    Patrícia (I’m from Brazil, I forgot to mention it)

    1. Hi Patricia,
      Finding a good state school at short notice can be tricky. You can try calling some of the Borough offices (e.g. Richmond, Kingston, Bromley) to ask which schools might have spaces if you were to move into the area in December. Then check which of the available schools you would be OK with (check the Ofsted report and rating: You can then target the area to find accommodation (e.g. using Good luck!

      1. Patricia Stamato · ·

        Thank you so much!

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