Moving houses in London is virtually a sport: fast paced, it requires skills and at times a cool head. I’ve lived in London as a working person for over 3 years now, and have moved houses a fair few times already. So here are a few tips to find somewhere nice to rent in London.
Eye on the bills
Whatever rent you’re asked to pay, bear in mind it can go up significantly when including bills – especially council tax! Council tax in London can be a huge additional living cost depending on which borough you live in. Of course, the closer central you get, the higher council tax.
On the other hand, the further out you are the longer and costly your commute can get. Make sure you read the small prints and always ask all the right questions to your landlord before moving in. Personally, I prefer places with a fixed rent which includes all bills, just to avoid unwanted surprises.
Mind the gap
Commuting is shit. It’s uncomfortable, boring and a big expense. When deciding to move, always look at how long the commute would be. Does it take you longer than before? Do you need to change lines? Do you have to switch transports and spend more money? Is it at the start of a line so you can get a seat? #winning
Buses are cheaper to use than the Underground, particularly since the recent launch of the ‘hopper’ ticket which allows commuters to change buses for free within a one hour spell.
If you’re among the lucky few who can do without using public transport at all and instead cycle or walk, you’ll save a lot of money. Rightmove.com have a very useful feature whereby you can search for places near particular tube stations. Try it out.
The right balance
While location is important, you should keep in mind that the better the area you want to live in, the worse the standard of housing is likely to get.
I’ve visited some absolute shockers near wicked areas like Shoreditch and Canary Wharf. These would have been convenient to live in, although admittedly not as much as not living in a shoe box. Make sure you find the right balance between location and comfort.
With the amount of transport links available, living a few hundred yards down the road isn’t much, but can be a huge difference in terms of housing quality and price. Regardless, getting anywhere in London seems to take the same standard 30-45 mins.
Perhaps the most important tip on this list. The housing market in London is fucking mad, and places come and go within days at the most, generally hours. So if you find somewhere you like, don’t ‘think about it’ or put it on your shortlist. Just snap it off before someone else does!
In my time searching, I’ve gone to house viewings straight from work, just to make sure I get dibs if I like them. It can be stressful and tiring, but also quite exciting. It’s a weird old game, but if you want to win, you gotta play by the rules.
Use your contacts
Finally, use whatever contacts you have to get an edge. Whether it’s people at work or friends who know someone who’s moving or better daddy’s wealthy friend having an empty flat overseeing the south bank, just make sure you use all your options.
For instance, I’ve found my new place via a Facebook community for French people living here. This means I claimed it before it was even officially advertised online, and saved money on agency costs.