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The local area guide to living in Berkshire

The south-eastern county of Berkshire, home to Windsor Castle, is one of the oldest counties in England, and is one of the country’s economic hubs. It’s made up of six unitary authorities: Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Wokingham. Slough and Reading are the most affordable areas, but have the county’s highest crime rates, while the other four areas have a higher proportion of high earners, lower crime rates and more expensive housing.

Approximately three-quarters of the land in West Berkshire is a designated area of outstanding beauty, and so is protected by nature conservation laws. While this means the county is full of stunning scenery, it has contributed to a housing shortage.

Information about the local residents

Berkshire has almost 850,000 residents, approximately 90% of whom describe their ethnicity as White. Of the remaining residents, roughly 7% are Asian, 2% are black and a further 2% fall into other categories.

These statistics do vary from district to district, with 75% of inhabitants in Reading describing themselves as White, compared with 95% of inhabitants in West Berkshire.

Employment rates also vary between the districts. Wokingham has an unemployment rate of less than 2%, while Reading has a rate of roughly 3%. The county overall has a much lower unemployment rate than the national average.

Nearby schools

There are many schools to choose from in Berkshire, but the most famous is undoubtedly Eton College. Located in Windsor, it is renowned as one of the country’s top (and most expensive) independent schools, whose alumni include Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William among others. Since being founded by Henry VI in 1440, the school has educated 19 British prime ministers as well as members of the royal family.

Of course, there are plenty of other options available to students throughout the county. A number of primary and secondary schools – both independent and state-run – have achieved ‘outstanding’ reports from school inspector Ofsted, including two primary schools in Wokingham, two primary schools in West Berkshire, and a primary and a secondary school in Slough.

Slough and Wokingham had an above-average number of students achieving five or more GCSE grades A* - C in 2012. The percentages were 68.1 and 67.6 respectively, which put them well above the national average of 58.2%. The only district to underperform when compared with national averages was Reading, which had 55.9% of students meet the criteria.

When it comes to higher education, one of the most popular options is the well-ranked Reading University.

Getting around

Many motorists arrive in Berkshire via the M4, which offers a direct route to London. This also allows easy access to some of the country’s major airports including Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

Travellers can also take a direct train to Gatwick Airport from Slough Railway Station, which connects with Bracknell, Maidenhead, Reading, Windsor and Wokingham. There are quick and direct trains to major cities such as London, Bristol and Oxford as well as local towns.

Local shops

Reading is one of Berkshire’s most popular shopping districts, with the Broad Street Mall housing approximately 70 shops and eateries, and the Oracle shopping centre featuring almost 90 shops. As a student city, Reading also has a great range of bars and clubs in the area.

The other districts each have their own shopping, dining and entertainment activities on offer. Parkway at Newbury hosts a number of high street favourites, while Slough is home to the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.