London has been voted the UK's 'best place to raise a family' in a recent parenting poll.
The poll, conducted by Babies.co.uk in collaboration with home removals company TwoMenAndaTruck.co.uk, asked parents to choose from a list of major UK cities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority (41%) voted for London, followed by Manchester (12%) and Birmingham (10%). Education, it seems, was top of parents' priorities:
"Good schools are one of the most important factors that parents consider when looking to relocate, and London has some of the best in the UK," explained Malcolm York of Two Men and a Truck.
Indeed, children educated in the capital are more likely to meet the required levels of education at ages 11, 16 and 19, while 82% achieve 5 or more 'good grades' at GCSE compared to 79.5% nationally. Just 4.5 per cent of 14-18 year olds are not in employment, education or training (NEET), below the national average of 6.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, it seems that parents are thinking ahead: "Many young families that we work with move to London to give their children the best possible work opportunities later on," explains Malcolm. "Many of the UK's most competitive jobs are here. Parents know that finding accommodation or commuting from outside the city can be expensive, so for a young person to have these opportunities on their doorstep can be hugely helpful."
James Macfarlane, Managing Director of Babies.co.uk, agrees: "Living in London can make it easier for young people to find work experience placements or internships, which is important when it comes to finding a permanent job. It cuts their travel costs and means that some can even accept unpaid positions."
Speaking as a recent graduate I can confirm that the dazzling career opportunities in the Big Smoke are more difficult to access for us country bumpkins, for whom a work experience placement requires a 1.5 hour commute, expensive train and tube fares, lunch costs and a place to sleep (been there, done that). I've spent more than one envious evening scrolling through the Facebook pages of my cockney friends breezing through the capital from internship to internship, bolstering their CVs at next to no personal cost.
However, not all the statistics are positive: children from low-income backgrounds in London are more likely to lack everyday items, while twice as many children are turned away from their first choice school.
Cost of living can also be a turn-off for young families, with nursery care 25 per cent more expensive in London than elsewhere. However, recent government plans to extend free childcare to low-income families (as many as 1 in 4 UK families) could remove this barrier.
Overall, the city's unique education and employment opportunities are enough to have won parents' votes, making London the 'best place to raise a family' in the UK.
Would it be fair to add 'best place to be a post-grad jobseeker' to that title as well?
References available from http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/londonfacts/default.htm