Post by Ruban Selvanayagam
London is a notoriously expensive place to live – and the capital seems to be gradually awakening from a post-pandemic slump, with average rental prices hitting £1,713 pcm – a rise of 3.6% – as of 6th September 2021.
So what do you do if you dream of moving to the UK’s most famous city but you’re stuck with a shoestring budget? In this article, we offer a few hints and tips on finding good accommodation without the London price tag.
Rent or Sublet from Friends
Few of us are lucky enough to have property-owning mates in London – but if you do, it may be worth checking in with them. The city is unquestionably expensive, so they may be willing to provide you with a room in exchange for a little extra pocket money for themselves. Less so in recent months, but the pandemic has meant that quite a few decided to sell up completely or leave their properties empty which may work in your favour.
You might not be able to arrange anything long-term – just until you “find your feet” – but you may be able to avoid costly deposits, fees and money up-front this way. Friends are also likely to charge you less than a “professional” landlord would.
It’s even possible to sublet from friends who are renting in the city as long as they have their landlord’s permission to do so.
Accept a Longer Commute
In general, the suburbs of London are far more affordable than the central zones – and can be very pleasant to live in. Unfortunately, this means making some concessions relating to transport.
The further out you go, the more likely you are to find cheap rent. Of course, unless you work from home, you’ll also need to weigh up the cost of commuting each day. It may end up that you’d be spending just as much living closer in and having less of a commute.
Look at places like Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Bexley for areas that are pleasant to live in and aren’t too far out. Check out Broke In London’s rental price heatmap for more suggestions.
London is infamous for its “questionable” accommodation options. Mattresses crammed into under-stairs cupboards or beds pushed up against sinks and ovens are relatively par for the course. See this very telling Vice guide for some examples.
However, if you’re savvy, you may be able to find a cheap space that is – while small – still pleasant to live in.
Following the various lockdowns that took place as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals living in London are on the lookout for more spacious accommodation. This means that there are likely to be more “cosy” options available.
Of course, rooms of this kind are not for everyone, but if you’re planning to spend most of your time out and about, they work fine as somewhere to rest your head.
Renting a single room in a London property is much, much cheaper than having an entire house or flat to yourself. If you know a few other people who are planning to move to the capital, you’re in luck – you can share the expense while living with friends.
Alternatively, look for HMO properties. These buildings have individual rooms available to rent – and, as long as you’re happy to live with strangers, you might be able to find options in great locations.
Check Out Alternative Listings
You don’t need to go through an estate agent to find good rental accommodation. Check out sites like Spareroom and Gumtree to find rental accommodation that suits you. Broke In London has a list of top accommodation sites you can use to find the right place.
In many cases, you won’t need to pay the same costly deposit or fees that you would as part of more “mainstream” arrangements.
It’s even worth checking on social media; you might find that friends of friends are looking for new flatmates to take over a room in their home.
If you’re looking for accommodation in the relatively short-term – or until you’ve saved enough to find your own place – you might choose to house sit a London property.
While some people need someone to live in and watch their property for just a couple of weeks, others may require this for up to a year, or even more.
Of course, house-sitting is likely to come with a range of responsibilities – sometimes including maintenance, plant watering and more besides – and you’ll be expected to take good care of all fittings and furnishings in the property. On the plus-side, though – you won’t need your own!
You may be lucky enough to have London-based friends for whom you can house sit, or you can browse specialist websites to find a good match.
You won’t have to pay to stay there, but you’re unlikely to get paid either, save for possible specific expenses related to watching pets or specialist maintenance.
All of the options above should help you to find your perfect accommodation in a suitable area of London for the precise period you require.
Browse social media and alternative websites for opportunities, live further out, accept smaller or shared properties or consider house sitting in order to secure a great place to live.