In central London, pretty much everyone rents.
This is mostly because not everyone can afford to buy a place, and the only other option is commuting in from somewhere like Reading or Luton and spending up to four hours a day composing angsty messages to train companies on Twitter.
As much as thinking up different puns for train companies is probably fun the first few times, I imagine it gets quite boring after a while. So to avoid this, most of us choose to rent centrally until we have enough money to buy somewhere.
I for one am working towards this achievable goal, and hope to have enough money for a deposit by 2090, when I will retire to a large shed by the Regent’s Canal.
But for all those embarking on this intrinsic part of London life for the first time, here’s a short guide to the process.
Step 1. Decide between a one bed or houseshare
If you’re wondering whether to share or go solo, the following information may help you make up your mind.
To rent the average one bed property in the city, you need an income 30% higher than the UK average.”
That’s that decided, then. Houseshare it is.
Step 2. Find your perfect housemates
Websites like Spareroom or Gumtree have a wealth of completely normal, law-abiding, chilled out potential housemates all looking for a person like you to fill their room. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself – YOLO!
Step 3. Find an honest, reliable estate agent
For some reason, personal recommendations are hard to come by, so try Google instead. n.b. you may need to tweak the search criteria slightly.
Step 4. Work out your total monthly budget
The estate agent will ask how much you can afford to spend on rent. If you’re unsure, I recommend using the following equation:
Pick a number (any number)
Multiply by 800
Divide by two
Feed it a banana
Sing it a lullaby
Add your birth month
= this completely irrelevant number is your budget
Step 5. Start viewing properties that match your criteria
Remember to factor in the language barrier when communicating your ideal property requirements. This list of frequently used Estateagentese terms and their English translations may help:
Step 6. Sign on the dotted line
Found your perfect flat? It’s time for the paperwork! Don’t worry if the estate agent asks you to edit, proof read, amend, print and send your contract while also obtaining your own references. This is all completely normal and you should expect to pay up to £150 in administration fees for the pleasure.
Step 7. Get to know your neighbours
Once you’ve moved in and made a comprehensive list of all the mouldy spots, why not introduce yourself to the neighbours? This can be done by arranging a housewarming, popping round to say “hi”, or simply just stomping on the ceiling. It won’t take long to for you all to be on first name terms.
Step 8. Relax in your new home
Now you’ve sorted the formalities, you can finally relax in your new home. At this point, you should celebrate your renter status. Enjoy your shorter commute. Revel in your central London bolthole with all the amenities you could ever want on your doorstep.
I love this. I have a friend who is about to leave her student home and start renting. She’s got a three bed semi-detached house with a kitchen as big as my whole flat for half of what I’m paying for my one bed in Wood Green.
But every time I start feeling gloomy about this I think “Yes, but I’m in London and she’s in YORKSHIRE” and then I feel much better.
Exactly. I always think, “Sure, they’ve got cows in Yorkshire and green space, but we’ve got STATUES of FAMOUS THINGS made of CONCRETE.”
Jakob Aungiers says
Oh now don’t scare me!
I’m moving to London in 2 months time from being a student in Southampton and expecting everything to be only slightly more expensive…
Haha oh, it’s not that bad. I’m totally exaggerating. Sort of. (Not really)
Jakob Aungiers says
Hah, fantastic… looks like I’ll need some time to choose a place that won’t bankrupt me or corrupt me (further that is). How long in advance do you reckon you need to look for a place to rent in London? A few weeks? A month? (And on that note you don’t know of anything going spare come mid-August!?!)
Try Spareroom.com – seems like a pretty good site for finding house shares… Or ask on Twitter? I’d give it at least a few weeks / month to get the right place, depending on your budget it can be a bit of a scramble for the good ones. Good luck!
Mandy Southgate says
I laughed out loud at point number three. Well, actually, I guffawed at the top of the voice and succeeded in alarming my poor husband. I’ll take my seated, comfortable, 50 minute commute to and from Dartford any day.
Oh hurrah for seated, stress free commutes. The bus affords me that most of the time for a lot less money than a train season ticket at any rate.
London Lass Blog says
Yup. Commutes are sh*tty sandwiches (at best) but rents are so scary in London right now they should come with an 18 rating.
BTW – you missed out the step about always making sure that your landlord isnt just an out-and-out perve who’s looking for some lurve interest (on top of his extraordinarily high rental income) – an (ex) boss of mine is contemplating letting out two rooms in his Covent Garden flat which he’ll be remaining in, which has only one bathroom and which has a door that doesnt lock. This is the same (ex) boss who told me that he loves strolling around his flat totally buck naked since apparently this is the only way he can relax after a hard day’s graft.
Sounds like you’re speaking from experience there Lass…thankfully I have yet to experience that particular breed of landlord. Surely only a matter of time though…
Nope, that search result is pretty accurate… “Honest & reliable” lettings agents don’t exist. Well, if you ever find one, shout very loudly about it and we’ll send you chocolates as thanks!
Haha, I will do. Hopefully I won’t have to encounter any more for a little while though…
Hi, I’m a MSc student in sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For my dissertation project I’m exploring the impact of London’s rental market on individual’s living situation. Thus I’m looking for individuals who would like to participate in an interview and share their experiences and opinions concerning renting in London. The interview will be exploratory, thus no strict question-answer interview, but rather a friendly chat over coffee. The interview is on request completely anonymous and any personal information will be protected.
If you think you would be interested in talking to me about this please email me: M[dot]Terhoeven[at]lse[dot]ac[dot]uk