London Housing Guide (Part 1)

What you need to know before moving to London.


Moving into a new place is never easy. Especially if it is one of the best cities in the world like London. You might start wondering about what to do, where to start preparing, and what you need to know. Well, good thing you’re here because we will help you find your perfect place! We all want a home and not just a house, right? Let us cut the chase and get into some of the things you should know before renting your accommodation:

1. Housing jargons

This is huge. It will help you know what you want and should search. Here are some of the most common London housing jargons to know:

  • Short- or long- term rental. Short-term rental is anywhere shorter than 6 months and long-term rental is longer than 6 months.

  • Fully-, partially-, or not furnished. If the place is fully furnished, it means that you would get ‘basic’ furniture (e.g. table, chair, bed, wardrobe, etc.). However, if it is only partially furnished, make sure to know exactly what is included because it might differ from one accommodation to another.

  • House or flat. In the UK, a flat is different from a house and there are a lot of different types of flats in the UK but generally (i.e. converted flat, purpose-built flat, etc). A flat is generally described as an accommodation that is created by several rooms on one floor within a building that has similar residences. Meanwhile, an apartment is usually referring to a ‘better’ type of flats. A house, is, well, a house.

(Left; terraced house, right; flat)

  • Flat-/house-share or room share. A flat- or house- share means you have your own bedroom and there might be shared common spaces (i.e. living room, kitchen, etc). While room-share is sharing a bedroom with someone else.

  • Double or single room. A single room is a room only big enough for a single bed. A double room should fit a double bed but it does not necessarily mean it has one.

  • Studio. A studio is a space that contains everything in one room except the bathroom.

  • Bill inclusive or not. This includes water, electricity (i.e. WiFi might or might not be included), and gas. If the bill is not all-inclusive, you need to pay for the water, electricity, and gas on top of the rental fee.

  • Letting agent/private landlord/ student accommodation.

  • A letting agent is a facilitator between the landlord and the tenant. They are the one in contact with the tenant instead of the landlord themselves.

  • Private landlord means that the landlord is directly in contact with the tenant.

  • Student accommodation is usually an apartment whereby the residents consist of only students or at least the majority of it.

  • Live in or out landlord. A live-in-landlord means that the landlord lives in the same accommodation as the tenant. While a live-out-landlord does not.

  • Security deposit is the amount of money paid to secure your house and in case you damage anything in the house. It's worth noting that the maximum for a security deposit is 5 weeks' rent for property that rental annual value is below £50,000 and 6 weeks' if it's above £50,000.

  • Holding deposit. Thisdeposit will be deducted from your first month rent should you decide to take the flat. By paying the the holding deposit, the property will be taken from the market until you make final payments (which is usually the security deposit and first month rent).

  • Council tax is the fee you need to pay to the local council every year. However, students are exempt. You just need to apply for the exemption on the government website.

  • Renting fee (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc). It is simply the fee you need to pay for living in the accommodation. The frequency of it depends on a lot of things but generally as long as you’re above the age of 18, it should be quite flexible and easy.


2. Things to pay attention about a shared accommodations

  • Heating. London is quite chilly at times so making sure you can keep yourself toasty inside your house might be a good idea.

  • Windows. There are single- and double- glazed windows. Single glazed windows are made by one layer of glass only. Double-glazed windows have two glass windows with a vacuum in between which acts as an insulative barrier – reserves the warmth of the room better. It is also worth checking that the windows open and close properly. Windows not closing properly might result in a higher heating bill.

(Left; double-glazed, right; single-glazed)

  • Mould. It is a dangerous thing - toxic, and it is especially common in bathrooms.

  • Walls. A lot of flats have thin walls which means it can get noisy – depending on your flatmate/neighbours. So if you feel bothered by thin walls, make sure to check it thoroughly.

  • Bathrooms. Compare the number of bathrooms and the bedrooms. Sharing a bathroom with more than 4 people could be a pain.

  • Kitchen. Sharing a kitchen with more than 6-7 people might not be an ideal situation. Especially if everyone cooks.

  • What you get. Just like some accommodations are furnished and others are not, you might also check what other stuffs are given/included. Some accommodations provide things like bedding, kitchenware, pillows, towels, etc, while others don’t.


3. The neighbourhood.

The popular part area guide

Previously in our blog post, we encapsulate and split London's diversity into four categories - North, South, East, and West London. Now, let's crack on ‘London in a nutshell’ (pun intended). Here are some of the best areas to live in with reasonable prices in London!

1. Blackheath.

Average rental price per month (double room): £676 (Property Data)

Located in the Southeast of London, Blackheath is the ideal place for those who seek a quieter life yet close by to the hustle and bustle of the city. As it is a part of both the borough of Greenwich and Lewisham. You can count on Greenwich to amaze you with nature and easily go to Canary Wharf for the city ‘taste’. The city is just around a 30 minutes train journey. The population of Blackheath consist mostly of young professionals and families.

One thing about Blackheath is that homemade and fresh food is particularly popular. Good thing is, the heart of Blackheath is a heath which means it is the heaven for picnics in the summer. The massive open area also means that in the new year, fireworks are easily visible from anywhere pretty much! All the Georgian and Victorian houses that fill up Blackheath creates a cosy vibe that will make you feel like you are in a modern village. It is that perfect city suburb.


2. Islington

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £781 (Property Data)

Known as the area with the most restaurants in London, Islington is the place for foodies and yes, that also means a great nightlife! In fact, this is where the UK's first pub theatre started back in the Shakespearean era – the King’s Head Theatre Pub. But not only that, Islington is more of a hipster place than just the food. For example, Almeida Theatre is home to a lot of upcoming British artists. Islington is definitely the place to live for film and fans and theatregoers. It is also home to one of the biggest football clubs, Arsenal.

Islington is the third smallest borough in North London, but it is full of life. Having a great transport link to the rest of London makes travelling really easy and convenient. The borough’s rich history has evolved and translated into one unique, creative, and vibrant place to live. Hence, Islington is more popular among young professionals compared to families. However, it is also improving to accommodate more families (e.g. more primary schools are being built).


3. Aldgate

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £670 (Property Data)

Aldgate is an area full of some of London's most popular histories like Jack the Ripper and The Great Fire. The marks it left are still visible until today. Aldgate has come a long way since then. Now, it is filled with modern accommodations, office blocks, etc, that is filled with young professionals and students. Aldgate is quite a commercial area which means that it is not the greenest area of London.

You can easily travel to central London by the tube from Aldgate Station which, on average, will take around 20 minutes. Taking busses is another option. But there are tons of places and experiences Aldgate can give you already. For example, one of the best markets in London, Spitalfields Market, is also located in Aldgate. It has everything from designer’s brands to local crafts. Not only that but Aldgate is also really close to the infamous Shoreditch. To put it in the simplest way, Shoreditch is like ‘The Soho’ of East London – hipster, vibrant, and lively.


4. Battersea

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £761 (Property Data)

Moving on to a calmer and more family-friendly area, there is Battersea. There are tons of young professionals and young couples still, but the lifestyle is not as hectic as those office-heavy areas like Canary Wharf or Soho. Battersea is situated in Southwest of London. Although Battersea will only have Underground by Autumn 2021, it is already well connected by the Overground and other train services.

The South of Thames has particular quirks that you do not want to miss. Such as Battersea Park which is one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in London. It has a river view which also becomes a rowing venue in the summer, an all-weather sports ground, a children’s playground, and even a zoo within it. This leads to another fact about Battersea, it is extremely pet friendly. In fact, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home rescues around 7,000 animals per year (Battersea Dogs and Cats Home).


5. Holborn

Average rental price per month (double-room): £931 (Property Data )

Nestled between the City and (posh) West London, Holborn is becoming more and more popular for ‘central’-housing options. It is bordered by famous areas such as Covent Garden, Bloomsbury, and Clerkenwell. Soho, Oxford Street, and Regent Street are also only a mile or two away.

As The Royal Court of Justice is located here, Holborn is known as the legal quarter of London. What signified the area beside this is probably the beautiful Georgian buildings lined as flats and houses. Holborn is considered as the fashionable part of London and it is not the cheapest place to live. The streets are full of high-end stores of all kinds, luxurious hotels, sophisticated bars and restaurants. However, Holborn also has some residential neighbourhoods which are quite popular among young families.

Regarding the transport link, it is excellent. It can be very crowded at times – rush hours and weekends. However, Holborn is quite a walking-friendly area. Especially given that there are tons of young professionals, mostly journalists and lawyers, and students. Holborn has some of the most prestigious universities in the world which includes University College London (UCL), London School of Economics (LSE), and HULT International Business School - Graduate Campus.


6. Isle of Dogs

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £775 (Property Data)

If you think that the name of this area signifies a certain uniqueness, then you are correct. The Isle of Dogs is surrounded by the three biggest meanders of the Thames river. So, expect a lot of great walking paths with a river view! It is voted as one of the best places to live in London by The Sunday Times. Some reason for this besides the riverside location is the great transport link, strong community vibes, and parks while still being a comfortably quiet neighbourhood. Mudchute Park and Farm is a particularly popular park and farm whereby you can find various kinds of animals (e.g. llamas, pigs, donkeys, etc). Mudchute is the pride of the locals and it is also managed completely by them.

Another strong point of the Isle of Dogs is its proximity with Canary Wharf – the main financial centre of the UK and the world. It is also close to Greenwich. There is an underground pedestrian tunnel in the southern part of Isle of Dogs which leads directly to the main attraction of Greenwich, The Cutty Shark.


7. Canary Wharf

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £1,087 (Property Data)

Speaking of Canary Wharf, it is also one of the best places to live in London. It is leaning towards the more expensive side but really nice for sure – modern. Canary Wharf is The Financial District of the UK, and it is growing rapidly into becoming the new and trendy district full of sophisticated restaurants and leisure places, despite its industrial past. Two things you cannot miss are the annual Winter Lights Festival which showcases eccentric light arts from all around the world. Secondly, the Canary Wharf Outdoor Stage which is most lively in the summer, where the stage is filled with live music, dance, theatre, and even streaming of sports events like Wimbledon.

Canary Wharf has an especially great transport link which is served mainly by the Dockland Light Railway (DLR). More than the tube, busses, and river ‘busses’ that could take you anywhere, the London City Airport is only 20 minutes away by the DLR.


8. Bermondsey

Average rental price per month for a double room (i.e. vary depending on the number of bedrooms): £727 (Property Data)

‘Bohemian Bermondsey’, so is it called. Bermondsey gives you a different taste of metropolitan London through its houses that are made out of converted warehouses and factories. The ‘cosy-neighbourhood’ vibe is enhanced by the presence of markets whereby you can get your daily fresh foods. Maltby Street Market is one of the most popular ones. Although Bermondsey is not the greenest area of London – does not have as many big parks, it is filled with trendy yet cosy cafés, restaurants, and other interesting places. For example, one of London's most popular cultural attractions, Tate Modern, is located here. Bermondsey is also undergoing a lot of refurbishing. So it will only get better in time!

Needless to say, the transport link is great. A lot of professionals also choose to live in Bermondsey because it is easy to bike or walk to work from here. It is an office-heavy area, but it is also home to some modern rustic areas like The Shad Thames. Undoubtedly, Bermondsey has been named as one of the best places to live in London.

We hope you find this housing guide useful and you’ll be able to find the perfect home in London. Not only the perfect house but also the environment that suits you.

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