London! Arguably one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world, and if you’re reading this, then it’s highly likely to be featuring in your future. Relocating to London is going to be an amazing experience, but it’s only natural to feel nervous or apprehensive. And one of the biggest issues will be finding somewhere to live.
Accommodation in London is not cheap. But the way many people get around this is by sharing a house or flat with others.
In fact, it’s now so popular that there are many companies that exist solely to put you in touch with others looking to do exactly that. So let’s take a look at the top 10 tips for successfully house sharing in London.
1. Decide exactly what it is that you want
This really is the first step, because once you begin the search you’re going to be overwhelmed with options.
Do you want to be in a large house that might have 10 or more people living there? Or perhaps you’d prefer to live with a couple or a professional person who is renting out a room to help with the bills? Do you want your own bathroom, or are you happy to share. Can you not live without a shower? Must the kitchen have a gas hob…?
The list is endless and only you can make the choices. A good tip is to write down what it is you want – with the ‘must haves’ in one list and the ‘nice to haves’ in another.
2. Work out your budget and stick to it
Price, naturally, is going to be a large factor. It’s essential that you only budget what you can truly afford, and it’s better to over-estimate your outgoings than to under-estimate.
3. Save in preparation for initial moving in costs
When you move into a property it’s highly likely that there will be some upfront costs. This includes a security deposit (typically four to six weeks rent), agency fees (if you find your property in this manner) and reference checks.
These fees are likely to amount to several hundred pounds, so be sure that you’ve saved for this before you start your house share search.
4. Decide on the area/s you’d like to live in….
…But remain flexible. Yes, we’d all like to live as central as possible. However not only are such opportunities few and far between, they’re also very expensive.
One of the best ways of deciding where to live is by seeing how easy your commute to school/college/uni/work will be.
Using the London Underground train system – known as The Tube – is going to be your best bet. And thanks to this it’s possible to live quite a way from your daily destination but still have only a short commute.
5. Sign up with one of the many accommodation sharing websites.
They are free for those looking to rent a room/house/flat, not to mention simple to use and you can search by area or postcode. Other websites on which to look include GumTree and MoveBubble, both good sources of people advertising for house shares.
6. Create a great ‘renter’s profile’
Be under no illusion, you’ll be being vetted by prospective house sharers in exactly the way you’ll be checking them out. MoveBubble allows you to create a free rental profile.
Here you can show a bit of your personality, job verification and references from any previous landlords you might have had anywhere in the world. You’ll be given your own URL, which you can show to anyone, even if they’re not advertising on MoveBubble.
7. The first date…!
Many people have said that meeting prospective house sharers is a little like dating! Approach this with enthusiasm, ensure that you dress smart, arrive on time and be sure to ask questions of your prospective house mate/s.
8. Stay safe, stay smart
It goes without saying that you need to have your wits about you. Sadly, the house sharing market is pitted with a few unscrupulous individuals whose only aim is to remove cash from your bank account into theirs.
A few precautions can limit this risk, such as ensuring that any deposit paid over is only transferred into an official tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Never pay any fees in cash – always pay by bank transfer, debit or credit card. Ensure you’re provided with a detailed inventory signed by you, the landlord and agent (if applicable). You should also be shown safety check certificates (such as electricity and gas) at the time you move in.
9. Be prepared to move fast
Good house share opportunities in London are snapped up fast. So if you come across a place that you like, this is not the time to procrastinate.
Chances are that if you like it, other people will too. So be ready, with your references, deposit saved so that when you find the place that you want to become your new home you’re in a position to make it happen.
10. Think outside the box
By this we mean that in many cases, great properties that are looking for someone to house share aren’t always found by traditional means.
If you’re coming to London to study, contact the university to find out if they put people in touch with each other. Check out workplace notice boards and newsletters. Get the word out to everyone and anyone that you come across that you’re looking for a house share – you never know who might know something suitable.
The great thing about house sharing in London is that it’s totally acceptable to do so, no matter what your age. From students to professional singletons to couples, there’s no limits on who house shares in London.