Accommodation in London

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Accommodation in London

Sorting out a place to live will be the first thing you'll have to do on arrival in London. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to find a house straight away though, you've got a few options to think about.

If you've got friends living in London already, call them! Even if they're friends of friends of friends, finding a couch to sleep on when you first arrive will save you a load of money and is a good way to meet some friends quickly. Dossing on a couch isn't ideal, but the usual dosser rate of £5/night in rent is difficult to pass up.

If you don't know a soul then you'll probably find yourself at a backpacker's hostel forking over anywhere from £70 to £100/week to share a room with 3 or more strangers. It might seem bad at first as you watch your hard earned savings line the pockets of your hostel's owner, but it's not all bad. Hostels are great places to meet other new London arrivals who are as excited about everything as you are and who will probably make excellent partners in crime down at the pub by night or sightseeing buddies by day. The trick is finding a good hostel full of long term residents. Many people find themselves living in hostels for much longer than expected.

Once your stay on your friend's couch wears out or once you can't handle dorm living anymore, you'll want to find a place of your own. Before you do this you'll have to decide on a few important things. First will be to decide where you'll be working. An hour commute each way to work isn't uncommon in London but any more than that and you'll probably be miserable so try to find a place to live that doesn't turn your daily commute into a mission. Bing close to work isn't the only factor though and you'll want to think about which area of London suits you best.

Next, you'll need to decide if you want your own room or if you're happy sharing. Room sharing will bring your rent down a lot but you'll also lose out on privacy so you'll need to weigh up whether the savings is worth it. Living in a big, crappy house with a lot of people will be cheaper than a place with only three rooms and three housemates so you need to think about what's more important - comfort or saving money on rent. But living in a sharehouse can be loads of fun and is great for new arrivals who want to party their faces off.

Finding a bed in a decent house can be a nightmare because there will be loads of other people searching and all the best places will have a lot of competition. If you find yourself looking at a busy time of year for new arrivals then you'll often be interviewed and it will feel like a popularity contest. The Gumtree is a good place to start but this is where everyone looks and the affordable places in good locations will have lots of other Gumtree users wanting it. The Loot costs £2 and has a large rental section with less of a focus on antipodeans. For a small registration fee you can gain access to properties at Easy Roommate, Housepals and Flatmate Click. There is likely to be less competition for places listed on these sites since there's a fee for use so if you're having no luck on The Gumtree then this is a good option.

If you're not happy with moving into an already established sharehouse and would rather have a bit more control, you can always get a few friends together and lease a house on your own. This is more complicated that just renting a room in an existing house but you'll have a choice of who moves in and will have more control. Downside is that you'll have to be able to scrape together a bond of 4 to 6 weeks and will have to prove that you're working.

Finding a place to live in London might seem a bit confusing before you arrive but once you get here you'll see that the city if full of travellers and is very well set up to make the transition for new arrivals really easy.