Finding a New Home in London
You have, most likely, already arrived in London, are staying with friends and family or at a hotel/hostel, and are now looking for your home away from home to settle into during your expat life. To find that place there are a list of questions you need to be asking yourself and several things you need to be aware of.
Budget – How Much Can You Afford?
The main factor that will have a big impact on your new home is your budget. It will dictate where you will be able to afford to stay and if you will be able to afford your own place or if you will need to join a house share.
Rent will be the largest portion of your budget. A great resource is this rental map. Navigate by entering a search term and clicking through the resulting links. It highlights the weekly rental prices across the London Boroughs by number of rooms.
The next factor is bills such as Council tax, which varies depending on which borough you live in and the value of the property. To find out the approximate Council Tax, you must determine into which Council your property search area falls. You can do this most easily using a postcode. Prior to finding a property, you will only be able to approximate your council tax payment as the value of the property affects your payment. Water/electricity/gas bills (Utilities), TV licence, internet, and maybe even cleaner costs if you enter a house share that has one. Bear in mind that the cost of splitting bills with house mates will always be lower than paying your own.
Other expenses to consider are commuting costs. The closer you are to central London the more expensive the rent but a weekly travel ticket will be cheaper. And while not an ongoing cost, you will need to ensure that you have enough funds to pay for a holding deposit (a small initial amount to show interest or hold a property) and a bond (also known as a deposit in the UK, this is the amount that is secured against any property damage) – again, if you are sharing, the bond will usually be lower than if you have your own place.
Requirements – What Do You Want from Your New Home?
Once you are clear on your budget, you need to know what characteristics you are looking for in your new home. It is important to separate the essential requirements from nice-to have ones. Asking questions such as those below will help figure out what is important to you:
- Do you merely want a place to sleep because you will be out all the time or do you want a home where you can chill out with your flatmates and have friends over, etc.?
- Do you want to be in a busy, cultured, chic, or a quiet neighbourhood?
- Are you looking for a furnished or unfurnished property (this will also impact your budget)?
- If you are sharing, are you looking for a social house share or one where everyone does their own thing?
- Do you want a nice place that is well maintained, good sized rooms or does that not matter, as long as there is a bed and a place to put your things, you are happy?
- Do you need to be next to a tube station, rail station, good schools, and large parks?
A good idea is to use Google maps to see what is available in the prospective area. If you are still hesitant to commit to a place you can book a short stay as a lodger via wimdu.com or roomft.com to give your chosen area a trial run before locking into a contract
The relationship between your budget and requirements will determine, to some extent, the areas in London where you should focus you search, specifically in regards to your distance from the centre of the city. Once you have the answers you can start your search.
Sam is an Aussie girl currently living the expat life in London, England. She loves travelling, sharing travel photos, stories and other tid-bits with everyone out there via her blog. She loves London and has tried to see as much of it as possible since moving there early 2012.
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