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Finding accommodation in London

Finding accommodation in London


HOMES AND RENTS IN LONDON:
INTRODUCTION
HOUSING IN LONDON:
WHAT’S GOING ON IN 2016
FINDING TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION THE CHEAPEST PLACES TO LIVE IN LONDON
AND THE LONDON AREAS
WHICH OFFER BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR
ACCOMMODATION IN LONDON (AND IN THE UK)
HOW TO RENT A ROOM IN LONDON
AND IN THE UK IN 2016
HOW TO RENT A FLAT OR A HOUSE
IN LONDON AND IN THE UK IN 2016
THE CURIOUS CASE OF
THE LONDON COUNCIL TAX
RENTING NEGOTIATIONS AND CONDITIONSLIVING ON A BOAT: A “CHEAP” ALTERNATIVE
TO BUYING A HOUSE IN LONDON
TOP 20 MOST EXPENSIVE PLACES
TO LIVE AND RENT IN THE UK
TOP 10 MOST AFFORDABLE LONDON
COMMUTER TOWNS
TOP 16 CHEAPEST PLACES
TO BUY A HOUSE IN THE UK

HOMES AND RENTS IN LONDON

London is the capital of British life, culture and economy. It offers endless opportunities and a stimulating life! But it has its downsides: it’s frightfully expensive, crowded and competitive. Living in London is not easy sometimes. It may mean communal living for singles, the impossibility of being able to afford to buy a house for families – or even trying to cut down on impossible living costs by investing in a boat!

Regardless of your personal situation, be prepared and be flexible. Do consider your trade and investigate what is the best, most convenient option according to your own personal situation. While London may be a great starting point for your career, choosing a different town may mean less time spent on commuting and lower housing and living costs.

In general, the cities reported to be the best to find a job in 2015 besides London are:

  • Cambridge

  • Guildford

  • Reading

  • Oxford

  • Winchester

  • Exeter

  • Bristol

  • Manchester

  • Milton Keynes

  • Chelmsford

 

Are you working in the tech field?

Besides London, you might want to take a look at Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Sheffield which were reported to be the best alternative cities for tech jobs.

And which are the worst UK cities to look for a job?

  • Sunderland

  • Hull

  • Bradford

  • Rochdale

  • The Wirral

  • Wolverhampton

  • Middlesborough

  • Belfast

  • Swansea

  • Salford

[source: The Express, June 2015].

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HOUSING IN LONDON: WHAT’S GOING ON IN 2016?

london_construction_site

Image copyright: Elliott Brown

London is now, in 2016, a construction site in the open air. In every area of the city, there are bulldozers and cranes working to build, in most cases, new homes.

Housing is generally rather pricey in the UK, but the search for a house in London these days may look like a race to grab the latest fallout shelter at an absolutely unreasonable price!

The large migration flow of recent years and the huge economic turmoil of the capital have caused an unprecedented increase in housing prices, which are set for growth of 18% over five years. This is changing the face of London, which has also begun to expand in height as many neighbourhoods are currently undergoing redevelopment.

However, if you believe that moving outside London will always result in cheaper rents…THINK AGAIN!

According to RightMove, London is not that expensive when compared to Esher or Oxford. The rent for a 2 bedroom flat in Greater London is currently about £1,493 per month on average, against £1,913 in Esher and £1,612 in Oxford.

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FINDING TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION FOR THE FIRST PERIOD

london_house
Picture Copyright: TheLondoSalad.com

It’s always wise to move to London or the UK once you have already landed a job or if you have got a friend/relative/acquaintance/ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend or fiancée willing to host you during your job hunt period. If you are not that lucky, don’t despair. Here are four ways to find affordable temporary accommodation in London or wherever in the UK you choose to live.

 

SOLUTION 1: HOMESTAY IN LONDON

Temporary flat-sharing booked through Homestay is probably one of the best options for your short stay. Loads of families rent their extra spare room on a short-let basis to help pay their bills. You simply need to register on the site, select the desired period, filter your search according to your needs, and you’ll be presented with a list of hosts to choose from. To optimize your chances of a great experience, always choose hosts with a 5-star rating (or close) and great reviews. Moreover, if your budget is low, always select those living in the  London outskirts or in less popular areas. A single room in Bromley in SE London may cost you half of the daily rate of what you would pay in Chiswick in the SW for the same accommodation. The advantages of booking your stay through Homestay is that you won’t need to pay a deposit, breakfast is usually included, prices are reasonable, and you will have the privacy of your own room. Last but not least… you will be staying with locals in a family context, which is much less impersonal than living in a hostel.

Book with Homestay your cheap room in London

SOLUTION 2: HOSTELS, STUDENT HOUSES AND RELIGIOUS GUEST HOUSES IN LONDON

Hostels and student halls are generally for those of you looking for no-frills temporary accommodation but they both also offer single rooms for extra privacy. Guest houses run by religious institutions are usually offered only to students, but that’s not always the case.

The Scalabrini Fathers in Oval offer female guests hostel-type self-catering student accommodation, with single rooms for as little as £110 per person per week or double rooms for £85 per person per week. Try and send an inquiry even if you are not a student, but beware, there’s usually quite a waiting list. If you are in a hurry, check the list of the best hostels in London or the best 1 or 2-star hotels.

SOLUTION 3: COUCHSURFING IN LONDON

You could save some of your hard-earned dosh by sleeping on someone’s sofa for free through the renowned Couchsurfing network for a few days, or a bit longer if you are lucky.

SOLUTION 4: “WORKAWAY” IN LONDON

Finally, websites such as Workaway give you the possibility to get free accommodation and food in exchange for volunteering. Check out if there are opportunities in the area where  you wish to live. You may be requested to work for up to 5 hours each day, so if you need time to look for a job or temporary accommodation, bear this in mind.

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THE CHEAPEST PLACES TO LIVE IN LONDON AND THE LONDON AREAS WHICH OFFER BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

canary_wharf_london

It is widely known that both London housing and transport are very expensive, so it is important to carefully choose the area where you wish to settle.

If you are seeking the best value for your money, quality at a reasonable price (by London standards), you may want to check out the Eastern part of London, the Docklands in particular. Why?

East London’s newest redeveloped areas are a good choice simply because you will be more likely to rent flats in new buildings with modern and international standards (designer furniture, kitchens with laminate or hardwood floors, bathrooms with tiled floors, double-glazed windows, etc.) without needing to be a millionaire!

You won’t need to be a Rockefeller or a member of the Royal Family to rent a house with double-glazed windows and tiled floors, and without wallpaper, damp patches and carpet in every corner of the house (bathroom included, of course!).

You can rent a  three-bedroom flat in the beautiful Dockland area, Zone 2, for around £2,000 per month.

Room in Docklands London

This is an example of a single room in a shared property in Docklands. Image copyright: Spareroom.

Check out Spareroom, and you may be able to find one for even less.

If you are dying to know which is the cheapest area to rent in London, here we go!

It’s the borough of Waltham Forest! Tenants in the borough pay an average of £435.89 (2015 rates) per month, a considerably lower figure than the London average of £748.04. Here you may want to check out Walthamstow Village, which dates back to the 15th century and is considered one of the nicest ‘villages’ in London. Walthamstow, famous for its market, is in Zone 3 and is served both by the Victoria line and the overground. You can reach the West End in 15 minutes! Looking for other fairly affordable choices in London?

Bexley, in East London, is considered by many to be the best family suburb in London — and the cheapest! Houses are mainly sixties box-like estates, but it’s also renowned for its brilliant grammar schools and Danson Park, which has a boating lake and an excellent playground.

Would you like to check the prices of other areas?

ACCORDING TO WEROOM, THE CHEAPEST PLACES TO RENT IN LONDON IN 2015 were:

  1. Waltham Forest £435

  2. Haringey £518

  3. Lewisham £586

  4. Sutton £600

  5. Barking and Dagenham £605

  6. Ealing £619

  7. Newham £624

  8. Barnet £635

  9. Redbridge £635

  10. Enfield £645

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WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN LONDON (AND IN THE UK)

When choosing a place to live, always consider the distance from public transport, pharmacies, supermarkets, libraries, gyms, markets and all those services which you are going to use on a regular basis.

If you already have a job, you may want to cut the time of commuting by seeking accommodation which is reasonably close to your workplace or that’s well connected by public transport. Some people who work in W1 prefer to live in the suburbs to save on rent or to be able to buy their own house, but this can also mean a higher cost of commuting and more stress. Try to find the right balance because being a commuter and travelling long hours during peak hours can prove to be quite a challenge.

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HOW TO RENT A ROOM IN LONDON AND IN THE UK IN 2016

Spareroom  is an exceptional website if you are looking for a room to rent. Besides having a great interface and being user-friendly, if offers a handy tool called the “Where to LiveWizard”. It is such an amazing tool as it allows you to narrow down your options according to your needs, and it points you in the right direction based on criteria that is important to you. Choose the qualities that you are looking for in an area, enter the maximum rent you can pay, and you’re done!

You may also want to check

Zoopla
Rightmove
Intolondon
Flatshare.com

RENT

The rent of a room can be expressed per week (pw) or per month (pcm).

Monthly rent is roughly calculated by multiplying the weekly amount by a number between 4:28 and 4:42; the coefficient varies according to the number of days in each month and the yearly rent will be calculated multiplying the monthly fee by 12.

When you need to rent a room, always take references with you as the landlord may require them. If you are a student, letting agencies and landlords may require a guarantor form (usually signed by your parents), which guarantees payment of the rent and bills.

DEPOSIT

The maximum amount which can be requested as a deposit is usually under one and a half months of the required rent. The deposit will be returned to you once the tenancy expires, and it will be withheld only if you caused major damage to furniture or appliances. It is therefore important, before you move in, that you complete an inventory of everything that is in the house, noting down any damaged items and immediately communicating that to the landlord. This will help you to safeguard your deposit!

LEAVING YOUR ROOM

Bear in mind that you can only leave your room before the end of the tenancy if the landlord agrees to release you. Most landlords, though, will expect you to find a replacement tenant first, and if you are a joint tenant (if you and your housemates all sign the same contract at the same time), the new tenant must be approved by the remaining tenants as well as the landlord. Until a replacement tenant has signed a contract, you will still be responsible for paying the rent. In joint tenancies, the new tenant and the existing tenants should sign a new contract, or else you will remain liable for the rent.

AVERAGE RENT FOR A ROOM IN LONDON IN 2016

In 2016 in London, tenancies for a room often exceed £500 a month, bills excluded . In zone 3, sharing a flat with one person means roughly £650 per month minimum. Spending less often translates into tenancy on a Monday to Friday basis or a crowded communal life. Paying £500 a month (bills excluded) will most of the time mean sharing with 4-6 people.

On top of basic rent you will need to add:

  • Council tax: roughly £ 150 a month, to be split among the tenants; council tax can vary depending on your district.
  • Bills: roughly £300 a month, to be split by the occupants.

Finally, always remember to ask if there are any additional service charges (cleaning, maintenance, gardening, etc.) in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

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HOW TO RENT A FLAT OR A HOUSE IN LONDON (AND IN THE UK)

If you’re renting a flat, you may want to browse online websites such as ZooplaRightmove or local real-estate agencies. Foxtons, Hamptons, and Marsh&Parsons are some of the most popular. Whatever the agency you use, make sure they have offices as well as a website.

Most importantly, if someone asks you to stump-up cash up-front in order to find a flat… be warned, it’s a scam.

DEPOSIT & COMMISSION

When you express your interest for a flat, you will have to pay the agency a guaranteed deposit which will give you both the right to negotiate the price and also an edge over potential buyers who still have to formalize their position. This amount paid will be returned in case the deal is not concluded; if the deal is concluded, it will be deducted from the sum that you must pay to start the contract.

The amount of the agency’s commission is the equivalent of one week’s rent, while the amount of the deposit depends on the agency and the landlord. Some will charge one month’s rent as a deposit. In London, they may require up to six weeks if you still don’t have an employer to guarantee your solvency.

As happens when you rent a room, the deposit will be withheld by the owner in case of early termination of the contract or to cover any damage you may cause.

You will also be asked to approve or amend the inventory containing the list of the items included in the flat/house and describing the condition of all the rooms. This inventory will be compiled by a third party appointed by the agency.

Cleaning prior to your entry is paid for by the landlord.

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THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE LONDON COUNCIL TAX

Curious as it may seem, the cheapest district for council tax in England is actually Westminster, followed by Wandsworth and the City of London.

The Telegraph published the cheapest council tax locations for 2014-15

Position Local authority Average council tax for a Band D property in the area (including precepts)
1 Westminster £678.14
2 Wandsworth £687.42
3 City of London £941.79
4 Staffordshire £1,027.25
5 Somerset £1,027.30
6 Hammersmith and Fulham £1,034.16
7 Hampshire £1,037.88
8 Northamptonshire £1,048.57
9 Worcestershire £1,059.22
10 Leicestershire £1,063.00

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government

 

Most expensive locations for council tax in 2014-15

Position Local authority Average council tax for a Band D property in the area (including precepts)
1 Weymouth and Portland £1,726.04
2 Rutland £1,704.67
3 Hartlepool £1,690.98
4 Newark and Sherwood £1,688.05
5 East Dorset £1,687.80
6 Purbeck £1,683.18
7 Kingston-Upon-Thames £1,678.65
8 Redcar and Cleveland £1,676.71
9 Lewes £1,675.96
10 Nottingham £1,675.83

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government

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RENTING NEGOTIATIONS AND CONDITIONS

London’s property market moves fast: good deals go in a few hours.

If you find your ideal accommodation, grab it immediately, and if you are renting a flat, always remember to negotiate, especially in London where negotiating is commonplace. Try to find the weaknesses and prey on them to try to lower the price of the rent.

You may also negotiate on furniture. For instance, if you bring in a bed or a chest of drawers with the intention of leaving it there, ask for new mattresses and pillows in exchange.

And remember to carefully inspect every detail before signing, in order to protect your deposit.

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LIVING ON A BOAT: A “CHEAP” ALTERNATIVE TO BUYING A HOUSE IN LONDON

As a recent report said, just 43 homes in London are considered “affordable” – which includes houseboats. If privacy is important to you and you cannot afford your own flat in London or elsewhere in the UK, you could consider living on a boat, bearing in mind that you must love the “bohemian” lifestyle that goes with it. If you are the kind of person who likes creature comforts, this might not be for you.

Emily Morus-Jones, one of the growing number of people choosing to live on the canals in London admits:

“Especially if you are working nine to five, you might find one day of your weekend is taken up doing all the boaty things,”

“You have to be very aware of the batteries, power, how much water you have got and where the nearest water point is. Certainly emptying the toilet every week is not everyone’s idea of bliss”.

THE MAINTENANCE COSTS OF RENTING A BOAT

The cost of a buying or renting boat can vary, but you must take into consideration all the hidden costs, as boaters will need to think about mooring, buying a boat license and maintaining the boat.

For instance, let’s suppose Frank invests in a 55ft floating home at £22,000. To the initial investment, he must add:

Insurance – possibly £200 – £500; with at least third-party cover starting at £200.

Cruising Licence: between £510 and £1,100 a year, depending on the length of your boat.

Boat safety certificate: £150 required every four years.

Gas: roughly £90 every three months.

Fuel: roughly £120 per full fuel tank.

Mantainance: £1,500 every two years to lift the boat out of the water for maintenance.

Mooring fees: The cheapest mooring option is to “continuously cruise”, which involves moving the boat along the canal bank every 14 days. Otherwise, home mooring, typically in privately-owned marinas, varies depending on your boat size and the location but can cost more than £2,000 a year.

Home mooring means you’ll also have to pay council tax – albeit in one of the cheaper bands – and you must have residential planning permission. But even those without a home mooring have hidden costs to pay. Moreover, lacking a postcode, they might find it difficult to apply for bank accounts or other forms of credit.

Although being a boat owner is not cheap, when you compare these costs with home ownership, living on board a narrow boat can be a very cost-effective alternative.
If this housing option attracts you, you should read:The Liveaboard Guide: Living Afloat on the Inland Waterways

Tony has lived on board his 50ft narrowboat for over seven years, and in this very practical book he documents what the liveaboard lifestyle is really like, focusing on the practical issues of day to day living for those who want to know what living on a boat actually entails, to see how to manage it for themselves.

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TOP 20 MOST EXPENSIVE PLACES TO LIVE AND RENT IN THE UK

This is the list of the most expensive areas to rent a 2-bedroom house in 2015:

  1. Esher, Surrey £1,913

  2. Oxford, Oxfordshire £1,612

  3. Weybridge, Surrey £1,446

  4. Marlow, Buckinghamshire £1,424

  5. Ascot, Berkshire £1,412

  6. Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire £1,385

  7. Egham, Surrey £1,353

  8. Windsor, Berkshire £1,351

  9. Bushey, Hertfordshire £1,330

  10. Guildford, Surrey £1,309

  11. Epsom, Surrey £1,269

  12. Walton-On-Thames, Surrey £1,232

  13. St. Albans, Hertfordshire £1,222

  14. Chertsey, Surrey £1,210

  15. Woking, Surrey £1,209

  16. Loughton, Essex £1,208

  17. Sevenoaks, Kent £1,193

  18. Reigate, Surrey £1,184

  19. Borehamwood, Hertfordshire £1,184

  20. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire £1,182

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TOP 10 MOST AFFORDABLE LONDON COMMUTER TOWNS

 

london affordable commuters towns

If you work in London and wish to buy your own property or cut your rent, you should consider living in a commuter town offering the best value for money. Here are the top 10 less expensive towns located within a 1-hour commute of central London:

The prices are indicative and relative to 2015.

Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

Average house price: £160,425
Daily commuting time: 52 mins
Annual travelcard: £6,708

Kettering, Northamptonshire

Average house price: £177,584
Daily commuting time: 60 minutes
Annual travelcard: £7,376

Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

Average house price: £182,114
Daily commuting time: 51 minutes
Annual travelcard: £7,380

Chatham, Kent

Average house price: £183,140
Daily commuting time: 47 minutes
Annual travelcard: £4,532

Luton, Bedfordshire

Average house price: £186,752
Daily commuting time: 47 minutes
Annual travelcard: £4,936

Basildon, Essex

Average house price: £194,260
Daily commuting time: 36 minutes
Annual travelcard: £3,840

Swindon, Wiltshire

Average house price: £195,212
Daily commuting time: 58 minutes
Annual travelcard: £8,864

Sittingbourne, Kent

Average house price: £202,915
Daily commuting time: 60 minutes
Annual travelcard: £4,752

Northampton, Northamptonshire

Average house price: £206,087
Daily commuting time: 59 minutes
Annual travelcard: £6,180

Rugby, Warwickshire

Average house price: £209,320
Daily commuting time: 60 minutes
Annual travelcard: £7,840

Other areas you may want to check out are:

 

Hatfield

Daily commuting time: The train into Kings Cross takes 26 minutes
Annual travelcard: £3,628.

Harlow

Daily commuting time: 34 minutes on the train to London Liverpool Street
Annual travelcard:  £4,276.

Braintree

Daily commuting time: 61 minutes
Annual travelcard:  £5,060

Gravesend

Daily commuting time: 24 minutes.
Annual travelcard:  £3,816

Crawley

Daily commuting time: 40 minutes
Annual travelcard:  £4,128

Stevenage

Daily commuting time: 24 minutes
Annual travelcard:  £4,660 a year

Reading

Daily commuting time: 31 minutes
Annual travelcard:  £4,856.

Southend

Daily commuting time: 52 minutes
Annual travelcard:  £4,492

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CHEAPEST PLACES TO BUY A HOUSE IN THE UK

The prices are indicative and relative to 2015/2016.

Copeland, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £20,978
Income needed for two buyers: £13,486

Av. house price: £118,000
Av. income: £29,190

Wigan, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £21,333
Income needed for two buyers: £13,714

Av. house price: £120,000
Av. income: £21,788

Hyndburn, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £15,991
Income needed for two buyers: £10,280

Av. house price: £89,950
Av. income: £19,660

Stoke-on-Trent, West Midlands

Income needed for a single buyer: £17,067
Income needed for two buyers: £10,971

Av. house price: £96,000
Av. income: £19,236

Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales / Cymru

Income needed for a single buyer: £17,244
Income needed for two buyers: £11,086

Av. house price: £97,000
Av. income: £20,788

Pendle, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £16,356
Income needed for two buyers: £10,514

Av. house price: £92,000
Av. income: £21,180

Neath Port Talbot, Wales / Cymru

Income needed for a single buyer: £18,667
Income needed for two buyers: £12,000

Av. house price: £105,000
Av. income: £20,412

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales / Cymru

Income needed for a single buyer: £15,822
Income needed for two buyers: £10,171

Av. house price: £89,000
Av. income: £19,930

Liverpool, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £20,978
Income needed for two buyers: £13,486

Av. house price: £118,000
Av. income: £21,184

North Lincolnshire UA, Yorkshire and The Humber

Income needed for a single buyer: £21,867
Income needed for two buyers: £14,057

Av. house price: £123,000
Av. income: £22,835

Kingston upon Hull UA, Yorkshire and The Humber

Income needed for a single buyer: £17,511
Income needed for two buyers: £11,257

Av. house price: £98,500
Av. income: £17,796

County Durham UA, North East

Income needed for a single buyer: £19,556
Income needed for two buyers: £12,571

Av. house price: £110,000
Av. income: £21,468

Burnley, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £15,022
Income needed for two buyers: £9,657

Av. house price: £84,500
Av. income: £20,184

Blaenau Gwent, Wales / Cymru

Income needed for a single buyer: £13,333
Income needed for two buyers: £8,571

Av. house price: £75,000
Av. income: £19,400

Blackburn with Darwen UA, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £17,778
Income needed for two buyers: £11,429

Av. house price: £100,000
Av. income: £18,345

Barnsley, North West

Income needed for a single buyer: £20,000
Income needed for two buyers: £12,857

Av. house price: £112,500
Av. income: £20,396

[Source: http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk]

 

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