The Great British Flathunt
Starting the flathunt will be your first priority as you settle into London life. However, it is a frustrating experience if you aren’t sure what to look for and how to find a place.
Getting started on the flathunt:
- If you don’t have the funds to live alone or rent as a group of friends the best option for moving into an established flat is by searching on Spareroom. Not only does it connect renters with those looking to fill a room, it has tools that let you search more thoroughly. You can search for rooms in flats within a distance or commute time from a postcode and take all the guess-work out of hoping that your dream flat isn’t a two-hour tube ride away.
- Buy the Early Bird upgrade! It will save you hours of back and forth hoping that the flat you’re checking out is still available. You have to be quick in this town.
- The London postcode system goes all the way down to house level, you could write the postcode on a letter and it would get there. This is great for flathunting but be sure to get the full address in case Google Maps sends you slightly off course.
- At the beginning of your postcode, the letters match with the cardinal directions. For example, postcodes beginning with NW are for northwest London. This is a great way to start your search as there is no need to remember borough names.
- The Stuck in London guides are great for getting to know the areas you may want to live in once you do get your head around the borough names.
- 1 – Probably out of anyone’s price range … disregard immediately
- 2 – Expect to pay £600- 700 a month + bills for a room in a three-bedroom place in a handy area, less for less of the nice things
- 3 – 4 – Probably not a bad option if you want to keep costs down but make sure you’re not too far from a tube station
- 5+ – Only consider if you need to be close to something in that area or if finances don’t allow you to be any closer to the action.
What to look for when you do a viewing:
- How is the rent paid? Will you be paying the landlord directly per room or are you all on the lease?
- How are bills paid? Tenants are responsible for Council tax and TV license as well as power and internet. Ask if you pay into an account every month or if you pay when the bills come in. This could be once a quarter for some bills so it’s worth asking.
- How responsive is the landlord when things break? You don’t want to find yourself living with a broken fridge for weeks on end.
- How is the water pressure? It may seem crazy but turn on the shower and check if the water heat ups quickly … or at all.
- What do the other flatmates do in their spare time? There’s nothing worse than being in a party house or sharing a house with someone who never leaves their room.
If you’re new to London the best thing you can do is look through the listings with an open mind and go with your gut. Rooms may be smaller, you may be flatting with more people and paying more for what you get but it’s all part of being in such a big and busy city. Just try and avoid comparing your rent price to what you paid at home.