This is it – you are spending some time in the UK, either as a student or as a professional. Either way, you don’t plan on sleeping on the (very cold!) streets, but finding places to stay can be daunting (and expensive!). So on this article we’re going through a couple of tips and tricks to help you find out a place to stay.
First, let’s look at a few things for you to keep an eye out for:
- Look at the advertised price. Are they giving you a price with the abbreviation “pcm”? If so, that’s giving you the monthly cost. If the price says “pw”, that’s per week.
- You may need to pay Council Tax – if you are renting a full house or flat, you will usually be responsible for paying Council Tax. If you are renting a room in a house, then you may not need to pay extra for the Council Tax as that may be included in the rent
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is! Sorry, but if you look at really nice pictures and photos on the internet and the location looks great and the price is really cheap, something might be off. Anything you feel off probably is! Avoid it!
- Don’t say “yes” without visiting the place. Never!!! Don’t sign anything without seeing the place! If you are being offered a place where no one seems too interested in you seeing it, avoid it.
- When you do visit a place that you like, be prepared to get it right after the visit. Especially places that are advertised by agencies… they tend to be highly contested.
- Learn some terms: “landlord” is the person that owns the place you are renting and that you’ll pay; “letting agency” is an agency that has been hired by the landlord to deal with all the renting affairs, so they may be ones taking you your money; “tenant” is the person that is paying the rent and living in the rented space.
Let’s look at some options for searching for places.
Online renting platforms
There are a lot of places available. There are also a lot of online platforms that allow you to search for them. These platforms are also usually used by a lot of other people, so it can be very hard to even visit some of the best places. Also, when the places are on renting agencies, they will usually require previous UK addresses as well as references – none of which you are very likely to have. However, these platforms can be very useful for you to see the costs of flats and houses in the area you are looking to move into.
OpenRent is another online platform but it puts you directly in contact with landlords, those that are actually renting out the places. They are private landlords and you won’t really find letting agencies, which is good as the landlord might be a bit more flexible with things like references and less worried about whether you have pets and a UK bank account or not. However, it might still be difficult to find a flexible landlord – as there are many tenants around that are perceived as being “less risky”…
SpareRoom is one that works for a lot of people, including vets, and allows you to rent a room. The network is pretty wide and covers most places, especially the big ones. You need to have a very good look at the advertisements because many times they will have extra to pay on top of the advertised price, as you will also contribute to the bills and Council Tax. However, it is possibly a bit “safer” than other room renting options and seems to be more widely used than the next option.
Airbnb is still an option for some people, especially those that move in for short periods of time, such as to attend a series of job interviews, or spending some time at different practices. It is not necessarily as cost-effective as the previous option and you can find a bit of everything, including some not-so-nice options. Also don’t forget we’re talking about short-term accommodation.
Gumtree used to be a popular way for people to advertise their properties before the advent of Facebook and Airbnb. Gumtree is a classifieds platform where you can find a bit of everything. You used to also be able to find houses and flats to rent and share. There are still many opportunities available, as many people will advertise everywhere they can, but you are also more likely to find scams around, so you need to be careful and make sure you follow the steps at the start of this article.
There are several other alternatives for finding accommodation (and don’t forget to check out Transferwise when it comes to paying in pounds rather than in any other currency), but hopefully these will help you get started.