Moving to London
An Insider’s Guide to Living in London
This London relocation guide has been designed to help understand the basics of the London rental market, what to expect and how to avoid any disappointments. So whether you’re locked and loaded with a moving date or still weighing up your options; we hope to comfortably guide you through the necessities of relocating to one of the planet’s most kinetic and culturally diverse cities.
London’s property market is exceptionally buoyant and isn’t showing signs of slowing.
As its popularity as an international home-from-home increases; so do the quality of properties available and the competition to snap them up.
But don’t be put off. The feeling of setting up home in your favourite corner of London Town will far outweigh the preliminary efforts required to bag your dream pad. Follow our guide to make the most of your search and stay several steps ahead of the game.
Need vs Want
The best place to start to find your ideal new home is to begin with an idea of what that property might look like. Do you need a garden? Does the landlord accept pets? You’ll find that your preferences begin to take the form of flexible compromises and inflexible deal-breakers. This list will prove invaluable in narrowing down a huge catalogue of potential property matches.
While a nearby underground station is a helpful benefit, London’s exceedingly efficient bus network makes commuting possible and even pleasant from many areas not supported by the tube network. Transport for London and National Rail Enquiries will be able to offer accurate commuter alternatives across London. You can also use maps and apps like City Mapper to determine your commute and how long your average journey to work might be.
With 11 eager tenants to every available rental in London, the competition to land your ideal apartment can be fierce. Properties can come and go within 24 hours and so we’d recommend putting yourself in the best informed position. Register for instant alerts from online property management sites and call where you can, rather than email to declare initial interest.
In the instance of emailing, it’s good to give some details about yourself. Who will you be living with? What are your interests? Are you smokers / non smokers? Your ages and your occupations. These will all assist in finding a property by giving your prospective landlord an idea of who you are.
You want to appear as the best potential tenant to any potential landlord and the best way to do this is by having your papers in order. Having pre-written references from previous landlords (regardless of the country) will save time and demonstrate your enthusiasm. The landlord or agent may also wish to see proof of your identity, immigration status, employment status and credit history. The more of these documents you can prepare in advance, the more attractive your offer will appear.
Furnished vs Unfurnished
Whether a landlord lets his property unfurnished, part furnished or fully furnished is completely at their discretion. Of course this may impact the desirability of the property in your eyes, as you may have a crate full of homewares ready to move in, or you may need to wait a month for your belongings to arrive.
This can be negotiated but any changes may have an effect on the rental price and terms of the security deposit. If you’re unsure about what is or isn’t included – just ask! The more questions you ask when viewing a property, the more comfortable you’ll feel when signing any contractual agreements.
Where to Look
From colourful street markets to high-shine high- rises, London’s neighbourhoods vary wildly in style, accessibility and aesthetic.
We strongly recommend spending some serious time thinking about whether a midnight bagel or a 7am flat white are local necessities. Many boroughs have huge green spaces and great ethnic diversity while others have a lively night-life and world-class dining. Use our Area Guide to explore and find your ideal area.
Agents and Landlords
Almost all landlords will have an appointed estate agent whose duty it is to manage new tenants including negotiation of terms and conditions.
Another option is to register directly with estate agents, as they will work to find you a suitable property. Keep in mind that if you find a property using an online search tool, you’ll need to contact the estate agent representing the landlord to view the property. These contact details will always be displayed on online search sites.
Some landlords prefer to set-up privately without the assistance of an agent, but we recommend avoiding this alternative. You will be far better protected legally should any complications arise if you have completed your set-up via an agent.
Be aware that agents do charge a fee in addition to your first month’s rental deposit for their work. This might be a small amount for paper work but always ask in advance to prevent any nasty surprises once your search is over and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line.
Online Search Tools
Zoopla and Rightmove are impartial letting sites displaying up-to-the-minute availability of properties from agents all across London. They both offer instant alerts when new properties that match your criteria become available. They are also a great way to begin to build a picture of types of housing available throughout London and the associated rates.