We searched highs and lows to find vital information on flat hunting in London. It’s a complicated process and by not knowing the ins and outs of the city’s rental policies, you might miss out on some hidden gems, like knowing about the council tax.
Knowing the full procedures of how to find accommodation in London is important. You should be aware of which websites to use and what to expect once you arrive to London.
Here’s what 33 locals have to say on how to find accommodation in London
“As Brexit concerns understandably mount for EU nationals already living and working in the UK, people should be assured that there are no immediate or even medium-term plans as yet to change immigration rules in the UK. The lengthy negotiation process is expected to take at least two years.” Movinhand
General tips on how to find accommodation in London
“Rule one: You have no time, you have no bargaining power. When you see the flat, if you want it you say “Yes I’ll take it. Show me the paperwork” right there and then.” David R. MacIver, David R. MacIver
“In London, lease generally varies from six months to a year. But there are also short-term leases with one to six months duration. You can find furnished and unfurnished housing in all residential neighborhoods.” Expat.com
“Rents are more expensive in London than in many other cities, but food and alcohol is a lot cheaper here than in Finland and the other Nordic countries. It’s possible and easy enough to eat out several times a week, without your bank balance taking much of a nosedive.” Charlotta Buxton, London Lotta
Where to live in London?
SPOTAHOME TIP: If you’re renting a room or an apartment through Spotahome, you can also take advantage of the neighborhood guides you can find in our listings.
“If you’re a young professional, East London is famous for its bohemian atmosphere, this vibrant area is full of independent coffee shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.” Anna Athanasiadis, Compare My Move
“There’s also the more gruesome approach of London’s Murder Map — or better still, The Guardian’s interactive UK crime map tool. The latter lets you compare the crime rate, according to type, in different parts of London.” Indu Chandrasekhar, The First Pint
“The best idea is to choose to live somewhere reasonably close to your work. If you have a 2 hour tube journey everyday, it will get on your nerves after the first day and you won’t enjoy your experience in this capital city.” Partnership International
“On average, Londoners commute about 45 minutes one way, every day. Where you live will affect your travel times and cost (and public transport can be expensive!), so choose your location wisely.” Peggy Tee, Taking The Open Road
On pricing of London accommodation
“Prices to rent and to buy generally decline the further out of Central London you go. Zone 1 is now almost exclusively the realm of the extremely wealthy unless you happen to live in a council flat (which you’re unlikely to get even if you’re coming from elsewhere in the UK, let alone another country).“ Randomly London
“There are affordable (by London standards, at least) flats, houses and rooms out there. If you’re willing to compromise a bit.” Milly Youngman, Mini Adventures
“Save save save. However much money you think you’ll need in London, double it. Triple it. Stop shopping.” Clare Neilson, George And Bear
“According to your needs, the price will typically vary between £450 and £2000 per month and often fluctuate depending on the type of accommodation.” Cheylene Thongkham, Girl in London
How to find a good housemate in London
“There’s no foolproof way of predicting whether someone’s going to be a good housemate – even your best friend could turn out to be one of those people who never does the dishes – but make sure that you at least have a chat with everyone you’ll be living with before moving in.” Claire Kilroy, Inspiring Interns
“Ideally, they would want to share an appreciation of food, music, fitness and other hobbies with their occupants, which in turn upgrades the relationship between the housemates in many cases to friendship, as they share more common interests and time together.” David, Roommates UK
“Here are a few examples of what you should be clear about: Do you smoke and do you mind if others smoke at home? Are you a strict vegetarian and are you OK with any type of food in the fridge? Do you enjoy a lively community and meeting new people or do you prefer to live in a quiet and peaceful place?” Tina Sieber, Make Use Of
How to prepare for the landlord interview
SPOTAHOME TIP: Finding accommodation in London is much like finding a job – you have to go through the interview stage. Don’t forget to be yourself and ask all necessary questions.
“If you hear back then it’s time to front up to your interview with your best pitch praying to the gods. I say this because most likely you are number 40 to have seen that house today and the housemates picked their favourite at number 5 and just saw everybody else to be polite.” Chris Richardson, The Aussie Nomad
Budget you need to live in London
SPOTAHOME TIP: Research London’s cost of living – keep in mind that it greatly depends on where you choose to live – the more central you get, the more expensive your life will be.
“Here is where sticker shock happens to those unfamiliar with London rental practices. The prices quoted are per week, so multiply everything times four and you may need to rethink that four-bedroom penthouse overlooking the Thames.” Claire Bock, Apartment Therapy
“Don’t forget to account for bills when working out your budget. You’ll have to pay for gas, water, electricity and council tax (unless you are a student).” David R. MacIver, Drmaciver
“There is another hidden devil called council tax too. You not only pay rent, you also pay for the land you are living on.” Jovana Miletic, Aussie Theatre
Student accommodation in London
SPOTAHOME TIP: We recommend you spend your first year of university in a student housing environment – it’s a fantastic way to meet friends!
“The best time to start looking for university accommodation is just before the end of term or during the summer months, although you may end up paying during the summer, whilst not living there, or perhaps having to pay a holding fee.” Emily Cracknell, All In London
“You might find it hard to align your move to London with friends as some may be taking a post-university gap year, or others might simply need a little longer to make the initial jump.” Charlie Croft, Give A Grad A Go
Check out Point Blank Music School’s list of student accommodation in London!
Personal experience articles
Nadine Sykora: So I’m Moving to London
Complete ‘moving to London’ guides
Inter Nations: Expat Destinations & Neighborhoods
Job And Talent: Moving to London? Here’s a beginner’s simple guide
London Irish Centre: Thinking of Moving to London?
More ‘living in London’ tips
Runaway Kiwi: How to Survive London – A Guide for First Time Expats
She Loves London: A small (cosy) guide to flat hunting and renting in London
Little Grey Box: 7 Essential tips for anyone moving to London