There’s no denying that London is an amazing place to live – but attempting to balance location, price and quality of life in this city is enough to drive anyone round the bend! With dodgy landlords offering low quality accommodation to take advantage of people’s desperation... it can feel like a minefield. But it’s not it’s not all doom and gloom! There are a lot of good options, depending on what you’re after. Let’s take a look at the possibilities:
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. 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. If you’re looking for a lifestyle that allows flexibility and mobility, ownership might also 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. Most agencies charge a service fee, and sometimes additional reference and guarantor fees, plus inventory and check-out fees. It can get expensive, but you have the security of a proper contract, and infrastructure if something goes wrong – with online rental fraud rising steeply, it’s possible to be caught out. 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.
One thing to bear in mind is that most rentals in London don’t come with any utilities included. You will have to set up water, gas, electric and wi-fi yourself, in addition to council tax and an upfront security deposit.
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 sub-let. 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, 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, secret garden) and onsite amenities (restaurant and bar, laundrette, gym). Events (film nights, yoga classes, guest speaker talks) 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.
Written by Grace Waters