Immigration. Travel. Living.

How to find accommodation in London?

Searching for housing in London often turns into a real full-time job: you can look for a dream apartment for rent for several weeks. Experienced Londoners know all these things themselves, and for those who are going to look for housing for the first time, ZIMA explains how to find your home and what pitfalls to fear.

Any housing search should start with basic criteria: any aggregator site or realtor will ask you for them, so you should decide on them in advance.


Different parts of London differ from each other like other cities and countries, and it is better to immediately understand where exactly you want to live.

City newbies can search Airbnb or Movebubble for neighborhood descriptions and choose whether to live in bustling Shoreditch or cozy Hammersmith.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution: someone wants to rent an apartment closer to the office, someone – in a neighborhood with good schools for children, the third one needs a block where the night metro already reaches – so that it is more convenient to return from clubs on Friday at midnight.

Choose an area to your liking, but keep in mind that one rule still works for almost everyone: the price rises depending on the proximity to the center.


It is usually expensive to rent an apartment in London, and the closer to the center or places with a large number of offices, such as Canary Wharf, the more expensive. It is difficult to calculate the average: the prices for renting a one-bedroom apartment in a good area usually start from £ 1,500 per month – and on to infinity. Decide right away how much you are willing to pay for a roof over your head – and keep in mind that on sites with ads, monthly utility bills are often not included in the price, which can cost another couple of hundred extra pounds.

Important details

The presence of your garden or balcony, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, an apartment with furniture or an empty one, a multi-story residential building in a new area, or a traditional British terrace house with shutters on the windows – it is better to write out all the important criteria for you in advance and take into account when searching.

The presence or absence of neighbors

In London, an apartment shared between several people is treated as an easy way to seriously save on rent.

If you decide to live with neighbors, then the number of criteria and pitfalls can double: be sure to decide on the number of strangers you are willing to tolerate in a shared living space, the rules of joint behavior in a rented apartment, and a schedule for visiting a shared bathroom.

Where and how to find a rental apartment in London

The most popular sites for finding apartments are Zoopla and Rightmove, the most convenient way to search for a room and neighbors is through Spareroom.

Good apartments leave quickly, and you shouldn’t put off viewing the ads you like “for the weekend” – it’s best to run and look at the apartment right away.

You can leaf through ads yourself – or entrust everything to an agent (agency contacts are available on the websites). You can also search locally: in any area you like there will be offices of a couple of local agencies. But keep in mind – you will have to pay a commission for the work. How much depends on the agency, but usually, it is several hundred pounds. The British Parliament is now trying to ban these levies since it is not obvious to everyone (read: no one understands) what exactly they are charged for. But they are unlikely to be banned soon.

Good apartments leave quickly, and you shouldn’t put off viewing the ads you like “for the weekend” – it’s best to run and look at the apartment right away. Do not be discouraged if the search for a dream apartment takes too long: it is almost impossible to find “outright”, and many newly minted Londoners change their debut apartment at the first opportunity.

What documents to prepare to rent an apartment in London

The main problem for migrants is the traditional British recall system. Any agency will ask you for the contacts of the previous landlord.

The easiest way to resolve the issue is through your place of work or study. A letter from an employer or university, as well as a UK bank account, most often solves the problem. Sometimes you will need to talk directly to the landlord – the owner of the apartment – and explain your situation to him. In some cases, in the absence of recommendations, they may request payment for several months in advance.

In any case, the agency will deal with the preparation of documents. All you need to do is sign a contract, make the first payment, pick up the keys – and move into your new home.

How much will it all cost?

As already mentioned, a one-bedroom apartment in London’s 2-3 zones is rented from £ 1,500 per month, a room in the option with neighbors – from £ 600. There is practically no upper limit on the rental price, but a slightly cheaper apartment further from the center will not help you much to save money: the difference is likely to be eaten by the price of transport.

Utility bills (city tax, water, electricity, internet, etc.) are highly dependent on the size of the apartment and the area, they rarely go less than a couple of hundred pounds per month. In winter, due to heating, the communal apartment will be larger, in summer – less.

Upon signing the contract, you will also have to pay a deposit – usually, the price is from 4 to 6 weeks of rent. Agency commission for work and referencing fees – a few hundred more pounds.

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