It has three of the top ten state schools in London, plenty of leafy outdoor public space and relatively affordable places to live.
Now, thanks to those plus points, the south London borough of Sutton has become a haven for thousands of people from Hong Kong who have moved to Britain following China’s crackdown of the financial hub.
Social media influencers are highlighting how the suburb is the perfect destination for Hong Kongers and are encouraging them to move there.
One, the YouTube channel ‘Sutton Bei Bei’, highlights recent events such as the Sutton Friendship Festival, which is billed as a ‘welcome event’ for new arrivals from Hong Kong.
Sutton Bei Bei also gives a general account of life in the borough and encourages others to come and live there too.
More than 110,000 Hong Kongers have been granted visas to live in the UK since the British Nationals Overseas Scheme was launched in January last year. An estimated 5.4 million people are eligible.
The Government set up the initiative after Beijing imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong last year as part of a widely condemned crackdown on dissent.
Sutton is not the only part of London that is proving popular, with the boroughs of Kingston, Harrow, Ealing and Barnet also proving to be a draw. Other parts of the country that have also attracted Hong Kongers include Reading, Southampton, Brighton and Milton Keynes.
It has three of the top ten state schools in London, plenty of leafy outdoor space and excellent transport links. Now, thanks to those plus points, the south London borough of Sutton has become a haven for thousands of people from Hong Kong who have moved to Britain following China’s crackdown of the financial hub. Above: Newly arrived children from Hong Kong wave Union Jack flags in Sutton during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Sutton is not the only part of London that is proving popular, with the boroughs of Kingston, Harrow, Ealing and Barnet also proving to be a draw. Other parts of the country that have also attracted Hong Kongers include Reading, Southampton, Brighton and Milton Keynes
Why is Sutton an attractive destination for Hong Kongers?
Excellent local schools:
Three of London’s top ten state schools are in Sutton.
One of them is Sutton Grammar School, which was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in its most recent inspection.
The others are Nonsuch High School for Girls and Wilson’s School.
Affordable places to live:
Sutton is the fifth cheapest place to rent in London, according to the property website comparemymove.com
Sutton also has the fifth cheapest house prices in London, with an average of £368,520.
Transport links to central London:
Sutton is just half an hour away from Central London stations on the train.
Public outdoor space:
Sutton boasts plenty of outdoor public space, including Cheam Park and Grove Park.
There, families used to the crowded city of Hong Kong can experience outdoor activities and make use of leisure facilities including tennis and an open-air gym.
During the run-up to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Hong Kongers joined the thousands who celebrated with tea and cake at street parties in Sutton.
One attendee of the Jubilee street party, Janet Lo, 39, who moved to the UK from Hong Kong in August 2021, said: ‘I have two children and I really want to live in a place where they can enjoy their freedom of speech. ‘
She said she chose Sutton because of its large Hong Kong population.
“We feel that we can get support from each other,” she said.
‘Also, the schools here are very good.’
Sutton has proved so popular with Hong Kongers as a place to live that estate agent Foxtons has put signs in Cantonese in its local outlet.
Between April and June, almost 20 percent of new registered buyers who used Foxtons in Sutton were from Hong Kong.
Foxtons says on its website that, as well as Sutton, the boroughs of Barnet, Kingston and Bromley are proving popular for Hong Kongers because they offer ‘superb schools, expansive tracts of outdoor public space and excellent transport links.’
‘These places are ideal for families, and with large properties available for the same price as a central London apartment, it makes sense that Hongkongers will view these outer boroughs favorably,’ they added.
Part of the attraction of Sutton is its excellent local schools. They include Sutton Grammar School, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in its most recent inspection.
However, the popularity of Sutton as a destination means there is a high demand for services, housing and school places.
In the 12 months to May this year, Sutton Council processed 515 applications for children arriving from Hong Kong, according to The Telegraph.
Social media influencers are highlighting how the suburb is the perfect destination for Hong Kongers and are encouraging them to move there. One, the Youtube channel ‘Sutton Bei Bei’ (above), gives a general account of life in the borough and encourages others to come and live there too. Above: The man who runs Sutton Bei Bei is seen posing with his partner and dog after arriving in the UK on a private jet
One video on Sutton Bei Bei’s YouTube channel is a video guide of Sutton and the array of shops on its high street. Included among them is Poundland
Also seen in Sutton Bei Bei’s video is the local branch of the discount supermarket Lidl. The Youtuber is encouraging other Hong Kongers to come and live in the London borough
Also seen in Sutton Bei Bei’s video is a supermarket selling Asian food items that is likely to prove popular with Hong Kongers
A branch of Starbucks is among the food outlets highlighted in Sutton Bei Bei’s guide to the south London borough
Housing stock is starting to run short in the borough as it struggles to keep up with demand. The porter at the new apartment block Sienna House in Sutton told the newspaper that around 70 percent of its residents are from Hong Kong.
James Chan, the co-founder of Hongkongers in Britain (HKB) said many of those fleeing Hong Kong are seeking ‘safety and protection in the UK’ and also ‘freedom’.
Sutton’s churches have also proved attractive to Hong Kongers, with the Hong Kongers’ Fellowship recently welcoming around 300 new members.
According to the most recent figures from the government, there have been 123,400 applications for the BNO scheme since it was set up.
The clampdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong has seen its population shrink after six decades of economic growth that saw it double in growth.
Part of the attraction of Sutton is its excellent local schools. They include Sutton Grammar School, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in its most recent inspection
A family from Hong Kong are seen enjoying afternoon tea with their British counterparts during celebrations at the end of May to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Newly arrived children from Hong Kong join local community for afternoon tea during Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Manor Park Cafe, in Manor Park, Sutton
Hong Kong lost 93,000 residents in 2020, when the national security law was imposed. A further 23,000 fled last year.
This year, 140,000 left in the first quarter alone.
The sweeping national security law imposed a ‘patriots only’ political vetting system to guarantee that anyone standing for elected office will be suitably loyal to China’s government.
Hong Kong also faces economic difficulties thanks to two years of strict pandemic curbs that have damaged its business hub reputation. Firms have seen an exodus of foreign staff and complain that it can take months to find replacements.
The former British colony was handed over to China in 1997 after 156 years of British rule.