There has been a well-documented rise in divorce rates in recent times, and the pandemic is accelerating this tough decision for many couples. Covid-19 has added pressure to marriages: spending too much time together during lockdowns, more time to realise you have grown apart, and financial woes including job losses and furlough.
Divorce and moving house are right at the top of ‘the most stressful things’ list — and you often have to do both at once. At the same time, house prices have increased and the job market has suffered. There’s a lot to think about, especially when you are suddenly thinking as one adult without the team of two. If you are reading this as a newly single parent and you are relocating to or within London after divorce, then keep reading.
We know that you will be facing some unique challenges. So we created an index highlighting the best places to live in London as a sole parent, to help you plan your family’s future. We did this by considering some important factors, per London borough:
- Average cost of childcare
- Number of outstanding schools
- Earnings by place of residence
- Recorded crime (non-corporate)
- Rent to income ratio
- Average cost of rent
- Access to gardens and private outdoor spaces
- Job density
Havering is the best place for single parents to bring up a child in London
And the winner is...the London Borough of Havering! Havering comes out top as the best place for single parents to bring up a child in London. We break down why this quiet and prosperous borough deserves the top spot.
✔ Half of the London Borough of Havering is inside the Metropolitan Green Belt
So there is lots of green space for children to run around. Havering is much less built-up compared to other London boroughs and this is a huge benefit when raising a family. Numerous studies have shown that living near green spaces:
- Reduces stress
- Helps psychological restoration
- Boosts mental health
- Encourages outdoor exercise and physical health
Add to this: reduced traffic noise and better air quality, and Havering could be your personal haven!
Despite feeling like you are a million miles away from the city when you are enjoying the great outdoors in this green borough, you can still live within walking distance of a tube line. Your child can grow up experiencing nature, but also appreciating the culture that central London has to offer.
✔ Buying a house here is comparatively cheaper
Divorce is costly, and if you are having to downsize, then it is pleasing to know that Havering is amongst the cheapest London boroughs in which to buy a property. Havering is also among the safest boroughs in London, with burglary rates significantly lower than the London average. And as we know that local schools will be a major factor, there are also many schools rated outstanding by Ofsted to choose from, as well as a number of successful independent schools. Havering really does tick all the boxes.
✔ Regeneration — widespread investment and growth
There are regeneration plans for large areas of unused industrial land within the borough, which will provide more jobs, housing, recreational spaces and local amenities...a borough you will be proud to live in.
✔ Thriving town centres
As a single parent, you might be keen to establish a new social life. Romford is an urban town where you will find the most bars and restaurants and a buzzing nightlife (it has the highest concentration of bars and clubs in London after the West End!). There are also many child-friendly restaurants. If you prefer a blend of culture with rural, then Hornchurch offers an art scene, impressive theatres and two local country parks. Last but not least, Upminster sits adjacent to the rolling countryside on the border of the borough, yet it’s also on the district line for quick tube access. And Lakeside shopping centre is convenient for shops and children’s entertainment.
These towns all provide a sense of community and potential support network — important for a single parent household. And ideally, you don’t want to be the only single parent family locally — it helps to have others who are sharing the experience.
Westminster has the highest volume of job vacancies in London and the greatest earning potential
One benefit of living in the London area is that there will always be jobs available in central London. Westminster is on the north bank of the River Thames, close to the City of London. It is no surprise that it’s the place for job vacancies, but to buy or rent a house here is eye-wateringly expensive, so to get more for your money and a larger selection of schools you can commute in from Greater London.
The rent-to-income ratio is lowest in Bexley (Havering and Sutton rank second and third)
Talking of Greater London, Bexley has the benefit of still being very affordable to rent, as well as having excellent schools and properties with green spaces. And the centre of London is just under an hour away — so you get the best of both worlds.
Bexley has the lowest reported crime rates in London
Bexley also comes top for the lowest crime rates; violent crime is well below the UK average, and burglary is lower here than in most London boroughs. It’s a very green borough, with a beautiful lake and plenty of parks, woods and gardens all helping to enhance feelings of social safety.
The best place for schooling in London is Barnet, while childcare is most affordable in Havering
Barnet is known for its excellent schools with above average results, following Barnet are the Boroughs of Wandworth and Richmond. Such boroughs are expensive locations to live in, with many celebrities choosing to live in Richmond and Wandsworth. Havering offers similar green spaces, but with more affordable childcare options.
Havering has the greatest access to gardens and private outdoor spaces per borough of London
One of the reasons Havering won the top spot for a single-parent family is the variety of gardens and open spaces compared to the other boroughs. What’s more is there are 14 Green Flag status parks in the borough (the benchmark national standard). Many of the parks are also award-winning. This helps to make Havering protected, inclusive and welcoming for everyone.
Our index is based on an analysis of the most recent ONS, Gov.uk and Ofstead data, as of September 2021.
Eight different factors were considered in our rankings, and scored equally between the various categories.