*This is a collaborative guest post
The average rent for a London flat is now £1,676 – or £55 a night – which has increased by 30% in the last four years. This is now so high, that you could live year round in a hotel in Dublin, Rome, Paris or Brussels for the same amount of money.
Obviously the price will depend on the location of your rented property and costs will differ depending on whether you are renting a room within a house of looking for a space of your own.
But despite these costs London is still an attractive destination to move to with many still choosing to rent due to unattainable deposits and mortgages. In fact, itis expected to become a city of renters by 2025, with just 40% actually owning their homes – compared to 2000, when 60% of Londoners owned a house either outright or with a mortgage.
So, if you are one of those heading to the bright lights of the capital city, here is everything you need to know about renting in London:
Space will be limited
Remember this flat, described as ‘a mattress with walls’ that was available to rent for £700 a month? This is an extreme example, but most rental space is actually very limited in London. Whether you are in a studio flat or have a box room within a house, finding space for your belongings won’t be easy. You can however take advantage of self-storage like this one in Heathrow – it might even help you to save some money.
You need to budget for more than your rent
Council tax can vary significantly from borough to borough. Westminster has among the lowest in the country, at £678.14 per year, while Kingston-on- Thames charges over a grand more at £1,678.65. Are bills included? Some properties will do this, particularly if you are looking to move into a house share – which means you won’t get any unwelcome surprises landing on your doormat.
Living outside London can be costly and time-consuming, but depending where your home is in comparison to where you work, so can living within it. Make sure you take travel times and costs into consideration when choosing your rental property.
Be wary of letting agencies
Letting agencies will charge you for everything and anything they can from ‘admin costs’ to inventory fees’ which can add a whopping £239-£600 to the cost of moving. If you are going through a letting agency, make sure you go through a reputable portal such as rightmove.co.uk. You may also want to look on Spareroom or Gumtree – which is often a friendlier, more flexible and slightly cheaper agreement.
Find a flatmate
If you are planning to move to London on your own, then you might want to find a flatmate first to share the costs with. But how do you find the right person among the concrete jungle that is London? Well, you could try SpeedFlatmating – kind of like speed dating, but to look for a roomie rather than a partner.
There are even cheaper options available
Organisations such as camelotproperty.com, adhoc.eu or ambikaproperty.com offer indefinite-term ‘guardianship’ schemes. These place tenants in empty buildings to keep squatters away and maintain upkeep. The downside – you can’t choose who you live with and you may be given very little notice to leave. But you could be living anywhere from a school, to a warehouse or even a vicarage!
Ask plenty of questions
Is the area safe? How easy is it to travel around the city from here? Where is the nearest bus stop/tube station? Where is the nearest shop/pub? How noisy is it at night? You have to live there so you want to make sure you will be happy and comfortable doing so. The area is just as important as the property itself.
The most important thing is to do your research and be aware – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, decent rentals can be snatched up the day they are listed so keep a close eye out at all times.