The location

When choosing a location you may want to consider the local transport links, the local neighbourhood, the local healthcare services available, and the local school and childcare services.

To help with the decision-making process we have drawn together a few first-person accounts from Crick staff about where they live. You can see where they live, and what they say about it, on the map below.


  1. Local transport links

    London is a big city and its central areas are unaffordable for most people. The majority of people who work in London therefore travel some distance to get to work. 

    Very few people who work in London drive to work. The majority use public transport, many cycle and some are lucky enough to live close enough to walk to work.

    The price of rent is strongly influenced by proximity to central London and by transport connections.

    The Crick is very central, so most Crick staff will not live very nearby, but it is well-connected by public transport.

    Public transport services in London are good but very popular, so expect them to be very busy in the morning and evening when people are commuting to and from work.

    This map demonstrates journey times and where to live for longer or shorter commutes. These maps provide an estimation of commute times, coupled with an accommodation searcher.

    1. Public transport

      The London public transport system is, in general, pleasant, safe and reliable; however, the quantity of people will take some getting used to. The closest train stations to the Francis Crick Institute are Euston, King's Cross and St Pancras, some of the largest in London.

      When using public transport to commute you should be aware of 'rush hour'. During these morning and evening periods all forms of public transport can become extremely crowded.

      Public transport services have varying fares and tickets; more information can be found here. One of the best approaches is to get an Oyster card. See below for more information.

      London underground

      The London underground, or 'tube', is one of the best ways of getting around the city. The service is safe, reliable and runs between 5am and 12:30am. A night tube service is being rolled out on Friday and Saturday nights. It is currently only on the Victoria and Central lines, though it will expand to include more lines.

      London overground and rail network

      The overground and rail network bring commuters into central London's main stations from greater London. There are high-speed rail links that allow some commuters to live out in the countryside and still commute into central London.

      Using trains involves passing through station barriers. This can mostly be done with an Oyster card; however, some stations are outside of greater London and will require tickets which can be bought at stations.

      London bus network

      London has a vast network of buses and night buses, covering almost all areas of the city. To ride a bus you must use an Oyster card or contactless bank card, but unlike tubes and trains there is no need to "tap out" when you get off the bus. Buses only stop if a stop button is pressed, or if a pedestrian at a bus stop raises an arm to hail the bus (showing that they wish to board).


    2. Oyster cards

      An Oyster card is a plastic smartcard the size of a credit card that can hold pay-as-you-go credit for public transport in London. To get an Oyster card you must pay a £5 deposit; this can be done at most stations.

      Oyster cards can be used to travel on London buses, London underground, trams, Docklands Light Railway (an automated rail system), London overground and most national rail services in London, but excluding some of the stations further out of the city.

      Oyster cards have a daily price cap, which means that no matter how many journeys you make or how many different modes of public transport you use in a 24-hour period, the maximum charge is 'capped' at a fixed value. Daily price caps range from £6.40 for journeys within zones 1-2, up to £11.70 for journeys within zones 1-6. Oyster cards can be topped up using machines in stations or at most newsagents, or you can set up an automatic top-up from your bank account.

      You must remember to touch in and out (or just touch in for buses) so that Transport for London know where your journey starts and ends, and can charge you the right fare. More information on tapping in and out is available here.


    3. Other forms of transport

      Many Londoners cycle or walk to work.


      A large number of Londoners commute to work via bike. This can be a little stressful but the increasing number of cycle lanes and cyclists is making cycling safer, and is often faster than taking the bus. Bikes cannot be taken onto a train during rush hour, unless it is a folding bike.

      There is a Crick benefit scheme for buying bikes - more information is available here.

      There is a bike hire system in place in London, which can be accessed by anyone for around £2. More information, and details on the pricing systems can be found here.


      Many Londoners walk to work. Google Maps will give you an idea of how long this would take. This map shows the amount of time it would take to walk between London underground stops.


  2. Local neighbourhood

    Visiting an area before choosing to settle in it is important. The different parts of London vary so much that areas which are very close to one another may have a very different feel. The safety of the area and the local amenities are important to consider.

    1. Safety of the area

      Visiting the prospective area at different times of day will give an idea of how safe it feels. The Metropolitan Police force provides an online crime map that can be used to see crime statistics, or use this street checker to look up information about streets.


    2. The local amenities

      Local amenities such as supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, sports facilities and entertainment options can be explored on this site.


  3. Local healthcare services

    The proximity of National Health Services may influence decisions about location. NHS choices shows ratings of practices as well as information about catchment areas and available spaces.

    1. The National Health Service

      In the UK, healthcare services are provided free by the National Health Service (NHS) to all legal UK residents. There is a wide range of NHS services:

      General practitioners

      The majority of NHS healthcare is done by doctors called general practitioners (GPs). They deal with the health of the local community and are the first point of contact for a patient. To use GP services you will need to choose and register with a GP practice.

      It is advisable to register with a GP as soon as possible - don't wait until medical services are urgently required, as services that would normally be free may not be and support may take longer to access.

      More information and guidance on GP services is available  here.

      Accident and emergency

      For medical emergencies, treatment is free for everyone at hospital accident and emergency departments. In a medical emergency call 999.

      NHS walk-in centres

      These give quick and easy access to care for minor injuries or issues. Centres will often be open outside normal practice hours, and will not usually require an appointment, registration or payment.


      Can advise on non-urgent or minor medical conditions on a walk-in basis. Some can offer repeat prescriptions or prescribe medicine, and tests to monitor blood pressure for example.

      NHS 111 service

      111 is the NHS non-emergency number. It is free and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Call 111 to speak to a trained adviser who will ask you a series of assessment questions and then direct you to the best medical care for you.


    2. Dental and optical services

      Dental and optical services are part of the NHS but will usually require additional fees.

      Dental services

      There is no need to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP because you are not bound to a catchment area. You can simply find a dental practice that's convenient for you, whether near your home or work, and contact them regarding appointments. You can search for a NHS dentist near you on this site.

      Optical services

      Most opticians will require an appointment before they can provide glasses or contact lenses.


    3. Private medical care

      There are many private healthcare providers in the UK, and many NHS practitioners also perform services for private patients. These services are more expensive than treatment on the NHS and are normally paid for through private medical insurance schemes.


  4. Local schools

    Local education varies across London and demand for places is high.

    The British state school system offers free education for 4-18 year olds, and uses a national curriculum to maintain standards. Alongside state schools there are fee-paying independent schools; these are outside government control. Schools run for three terms, with examinations in the summer term of certain years.

    Most state schools are not selective based on academic ability; instead they usually have a set of criteria to decide which children get places. The primary factor is normally location: children who live near the school (in the "catchment area") get places.

    Catchment areas vary each year, and if you have children of school age, they will probably have an impact on your decision about where to live. Houses in catchment areas for well-regarded schools are considered very desirable (rent and and property prices will reflect this). For more information on catchment areas click here.

    It can be difficult to plan out school applications. Most Crick staff choose an area they like the feel of that has some good schools and a good overall reputation for education. It is not usually advisable to choose an area by one or two schools only as a place is never guaranteed.

    The best advice we can give for choosing a school is to ask colleagues at the Crick for their insights into where they live and which schools they recommend. HR can help provide contact details for staff with children of a similar age to help in the decision-making process.

    1. School system

      Reception or early years

      This is for ages 3-4 and aims to ensure basic literacy and numeracy among all pupils as well as laying the groundwork in science, mathematics and English.

      Primary school

      The first two years, ages 5-7, are known as Key Stage 1. This may also be referred to as an infant school.

      Key Stage 2 runs for the remaining years of primary school, ages 7-11. This may be called a junior school, and will usually be linked to an infant school. During Key Stage 2 a formal nationwide test called SATs (Standard Assessment Tasks) is taken by most children.

      Secondary school

      Ages 11-14 is Key Stage 3, with students being introduced to a greater range of subjects.

      Key Stage 4 is the remainder of secondary school, ages 14-16. This period ends with the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a range of external examinations taken by all students in their final year of secondary school. There are alternative examinations offered at some but not all schools, such as the Baccalaureate and international GCSE.

      Further education

      This takes place in sixth form colleges for ages 16-18, which can be separate or part of a secondary school. This stage ends with Advanced (A) levels required for progression onto higher education.

      Higher education

      This is undertaken in universities and similar institutions from age 18+.


    2. Types of school

      There are many different types of school in Britain. A selection of the most common ones are listed here:

      Comprehensive, or maintained schools

      Are maintained by the local authority and adhere to the national curriculum. They take all students regardless of ability, if they have space.


      Academies are schools that have a sponsor and have opted out of the local council control to gain independence.

      Grammar schools

      Grammars are state funded schools run by the local council, which select their pupils based on academic ability. There is usually an exam to get in.

      Independent and international schools

      Are schools that charge fees to attend, rather than being funded by the government. They are governed and operated by the school itself, with some regulation and inspection by the government body Ofsted. International schools are also fee-paying, have a focus on languages and will use the baccalaureate scheme instead of GCSEs and A levels.


    3. Attending school

      A list of state schools can be found on the local council website or you can find schools in an area by clicking here. To view schools and properties in an area click here.

      The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), which regulates services that provide education, provides reports which describe how the local schools are doing compared to the national average. Click here to search through school performance. To go directly to Ofsted reports, click here.

      All schools will also run open days to show what the school is like and allow prospective pupils and parents to meet some of the other children and teachers and ask questions.

      State school applications are made through the local authority. Independent school applications are made directly to the school. They will have their own admissions procedures - often including an entrance examination.


  5. Local childcare services

    The quality of local childcare varies across London. Spaces are normally in demand and childcare is not usually available for free.

    Costs vary but expect to pay on average £284 a week in London. However, all 3 and 4 year olds, and some 2 year old children, are entitled to at least 15 hours of free early education a week.

    Registered childcare is regulated by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, which regulates services that provide education). To find out about childcare services in an area, the Family and Childcare Trust is a good place to get local information.

    Additionally the Good Care Guide has reviews and ratings of childcare providers in the area.

    1. Types of childcare

      There are many types of childcare services available in London. A few of the most popular are:


      These come in many forms. They can be independent or council run, and many are attached to primary schools. They normally offer full day and breakfast and after-school services. All are Ofsted inspected, with reports accessible here.


      Self-employed child carers who will look after children under 8 in their own home. Childminders are usually paid a negotiable hourly rate and must be registered with Ofsted.

      Nannies and home carers

      Are employed by parents to care for children at the family home. The costs can vary depending on whether they live in the home, how many hours they work, and whether they perform any other duties, such as cleaning. Parents are responsible for checking their references as there is no regulator Ofsted inspection. The Association of Nanny Agencies is a good place to search for local service.


    2. Financial support

      The average cost of childcare is over £1,200 a month; however, financial support for registered childcare services is available. For government information on financial support for childcare click here.


    3. Parental leave


      The NHS has a range of services available such as appointing a midwife, local antenatal classes, and tests. The local GP will be able to provide information about the services available in a local area, or visit the National Childcare Trust website for more information.

      Maternity leave

      In the UK the majority of mothers qualify for maternity leave and pay. This is 52 weeks off work (which can be shared with your partner), with maternity pay for 39 weeks of that period. Any further leave taken is unpaid. More information can be found here.