Never Let Me Go is set in England in the late 1990s, but little more detail is given. It transpires that this place is rather different than the actual England of that time. While the basic geography and infrastructure of the country remain recognisable, Never Let Me Go introduces examples of technological progress that have in reality not yet come about. Advances associated with the future are brought into the recent past to create a familiar landscape with unfamiliar elements.
Frequent mention is made of the counties of England, which act as reference points for the travels of the characters. The use of counties as markers, rather than towns or famous landmarks, results in a prominent yet very vague sense of place. It is always apparent that real locations are being referred to, but their exact details are impossible to pinpoint.
A number of key events take place in English seaside towns. The recovery centres for donors are also often located by the sea, perhaps for the therapeutic qualities that 'sea air' is reputed to have.
These locations also serve to push the story of Never Let Me Go out to the fringes of England, where the characters are perhaps less likely to interact with the rest of society.
The towns of Cromer in Norfolk, and Littlehampton in Sussex are the seaside settings for two important episodes. The first of these, Cromer, is a scene in which there is much hope, while in Littlehampton the hopes of the characters are revealed to be in vain.