There’s no denying that London is an amazing place to live… once you’ve actually found somewhere to live. The struggle to find suitable accommodation is an entirely different story, as balancing location, price, and quality of life in this city can be a serious challenge.
But it’s not it’s not all doom and gloom! There are a few basics to understand about the London property market that make it much easier to navigate, and this guide has been designed to talk you through them. If you’re looking for somewhere to live in London, here’s a breakdown of what’s possible
1. Buying a home
This is certainly one option, but given that London is one of the world’s most expensive cities to buy property, ownership may be little more than a dream for most of us.
More importantly, perhaps, the world is changing. Due partly to rising prices, owning property is no longer the major goal it once was – especially for the Millennial generation. The growth of the sharing economy, and the fact that people are favouring experiences over possessions, has created a new culture in which ownership is no longer necessary for enjoyment.
The world of work is also evolving, and one major trend seems to be location independence. More and more of us are able to work from home, or indeed anywhere in the world with a wifi signal, so the need for a permanent base in a fixed location is becoming less of a priority.
If you’re looking for a lifestyle that allows flexibility and mobility, ownership might ultimately hold you back.
2. The traditional rental market
If buying is out of the picture, renting is the next logical move.
First things first: some basic points to consider. As a general rule, if you go further out of the centre of London, rental prices will be cheaper. Although, this can be something of a false economy, as you have to account for increased travel costs (alongside travel time!) if you need to commute into the centre.
The most straightforward way to set up a lease in London is to go through a recognised lettings agency. Once you’ve registered your details with one, they will help you find something suitable within their area, and set up the rental contract for you.
Below are several things you need to be aware of if going down this route:
-- Most agencies charge a service fee, and sometimes additional reference and guarantor fees, plus inventory and check-out fees. It can definitely get expensive, but you have the security of a proper contract, and infrastructure if something goes wrong – with online rental fraud rising steeply, it pays to go through recognised channels. Nonetheless, even when going through a reputable agency, you’re still at the mercy of your landlord, their responsiveness, and how well maintained they keep their properties.
-- In order to rent a property, it’s commonplace to have to meet an agency’s eligibility requirements. Normally, if you don’t meet a certain income threshold (typically 1.5 times your portion of the rent), you will be required to have a UK-based guarantor. This can cause problems for students, recent graduates on lower salaries, those between employment, or freelancers without long-term contracts. Finding a guarantor can present its own problems – the logical step is to turn to your parents, but they might also be ineligible if they’re retired.
-- Most rentals in London don’t come with any utilities included. You will have to set up water, gas, electric and wifi yourself, in addition to council tax and an upfront security deposit.
-- Typically tenancies in London are 12 months, sometimes with a 6 month break clause, allowing you to leave after 8 months (after the standard 2 month’s notice period). If you don’t want to be tied down for that long, the traditional rental route might be problematic.
In any case, signing up with multiple agencies across London while house-hunting can be a bore, so it’s helpful to use listing sites like Rightmove and Zoopla to check out properties and areas in advance.
3. House shares and sub-letting
The alternative to setting up a rental from scratch by yourself is trying to find a house share or sublet. With Facebook groups and sites like SpareRoom or Gumtree, they’re easy to find, and a great way to meet people. Getting a room in a house is often much cheaper than taking out an apartment by yourself, and it is potentially easier to find shorter leases this way. However, room quality varies greatly, so good rooms go fast! Be prepared to queue around the block with other hopefuls interviewing for the smallest room in the house!
If you go down this route, it’s important to make sure you get a proper contract drawn up to ensure your rights as a legal tenant.
If all of that sounds like hard work, you might want to consider co-living – a reinvention of renting that brings together community, convenience and quality.
The Collective Old Oak is the world’s largest co-living space, made up of self-contained studio apartments alongside a variety of awesome shared spaces (themed kitchens, games room, spa, cinema, secret garden) and onsite amenities (restaurant and bar, laundrette, gym). Events (film nights, dinners, yoga classes, guest speaker talks, and more) are held regularly, granting members with much more than just a place to lay their heads at night.
Your monthly bill at Old Oak is entirely inclusive (rent, utilities, council tax and cleaning) – so no hidden costs at the end of the month!
If you’re completely new to London and are keen to be part of a real community – or simply enjoy living in a social way – co-living might just be for you.
Want to find out more? Book in a tour at Old Oak today.
Written by Grace Waters