Are you wondering how to find a flat in London?
We made a list of 10 tips you can’t miss.
The best part?
That all these tips work GREAT right now (in 2020).
So if you want to find a nice flat in London right now, you should know these tips.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
Finding a Flat in London Tips
Tip #1: Make a List of the Areas You Are Interested In
Finding a flat in London is NOT easy.
London is a big city with many areas for different kinds of people.
This means that you first need to find areas that may be ideal for you.
Are you a young professional who wants to move to London? Or maybe you want to move there with your family?
In any case, you have to know what are the best areas to live in London.
This is why I suggest that you make a list of the areas that you like and that are ideal for your situation.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s assume that you want to live in London with your family and that you want to find a place with:
- Good schools
- Quiet neighborhoods
- Green spaces
In that case, you may want to consider something like West London.
For example, you can choose an area like:
In any case, making a list of the areas that fit your needs and wants is the first step toward finding a flat in London.
Ready for the next one?
Tip #2: Make a List of the Best London Property Sites
This is the second tip I have for you.
It’s essential that you make a list of the best London property sites.
You will use these flat finding websites to find apartments in London.
As you can see, there are many such websites online:
The question is: which ones can you trust?
Well, I’ll try to give you a list of the best ones, so that you can use them when searching.
Here are some of the best websites to find a flat in London:
- SpareRoom—A website that helps you find a room and a flatmate across the UK
- Rightmove—According to their website, Rightmove is “UK’s number one property website for properties for sale and rent”
- Portico—A modern website to find a flat to rent in London
- Zoopla—A website to search and find a flat in London
- Gumtree—Not exactly a property website but I am sure you’ll find many interesting ads there
- OpenRent—Another powerful website with many flats to rent across London
- Homes24.co.uk—A flat finding portal powered by Zoopla
- Spotahome—A website that allows you to find, reserve and confirm online
There are many other options you can use to find a flat in London, but these are the best ones I have for you.
Let’s move on to the next tip I have for you.
Tip #3: Make a List of Trustworthy Real Estate Agents
If you don’t have the time to do manual research yourself, you can have a real estate agent do it for you.
What do I mean by that?
As you can see, there are many real estate agents in London:
These are companies that can:
- Either help you sell or rent your property, OR
- Help you find a property to buy or rent.
“Yes,” having real estate agents help you find a flat is not cheap.
It’s definitely more expensive than going for flat hunting all by yourself or by searching for a flat online.
So if you don’t want to spend hours looking at property search engines like this one:
You can delegate that task to a real estate agent.
Here are some things you need to pay attention to—or look for—when searching for a real estate agent:
- They need to have properties within your budget
- They need to be transparent with their pricing policy
- They need to have many years of experience in the market
- They need to have properties in the area that you want to live in
- They need to be able to showcase testimonials from past clients
To find the best real estate agents in London, you can use a tool like allAgents:
There, you can find the 40 best real estate agents in London ranked by customer reviews.
This way, you’ll know which ones you can trust with your flat hunting needs.
Tip #4: Learn London’s Property Terms
This is another tip I have for you, especially if you are renting in London for the very first time.
It is essential that you know London’s property terms.
So what are London’s property terms?
It is some of the most common terminologies you may come across while looking for a place to stay in London.
Some of these terms are:
- Contract: A legally binding agreement between you and the landlord
- Deposit: A percentage of the renting fee, paid by you and held by the landlord until the end of the contract
- Purpose-built Flat: A set of flats that have been constructed from the beginning as flats, rather than flats which have been converted
- Converted Flat: A house (i.e., a Victorian house) that has been converted into a flat
- Studio: A flat in which the living room, kitchen, bedroom are all in the same space, whereas the bathroom is in a different area
- Terraced: A house built as part of a continuous row in a uniform style*
- Semi-detached: A semi-detached house is a single family dwelling house built as one of a pair that share one common wall*
- End of Terrace House: Similar to terraced houses, except that they are usually divided into smaller groupings of homes
- Maisonette: A house on two or more storeys of a larger building with its own internal staircase
- Flatshare: A living situation where you’ll get to rent a room inside a house to share the renting cost
The terms that you need to know before start looking for a house to rent in London are not many.
But, I highly recommend that you know the basics before you start searching.
Let’s move on to the next tip I have for you.
Tip #5: Make a List of Must-Haves
This is probably the most important tip in this list.
Because it will help you shortlist results based on things that are must-have for you.
Let me share a couple of examples with you:
1) Type of the house
The type of house can be one of your must-haves.
For example, you may have decided that you want to live in a purpose-built flat, rather than a converted one.
Making that choice automatically excludes many options from your research.
And this is something you want.
2) Renting fee
If you are like most people, then you have a budget for your new house.
Setting a budget is very important and can help you with your research.
Regardless if you are using a property website to find a new flat or a real estate agent, having a budget will make your research much more straightforward.
3) Commute time
The average commuting time in London is 74 minutes.
If that sounds like a lot of time to spend every day to get to your work, you may have to consider renting closer to your work.
Commute time is definitely something you need to pay attention to when looking for a new flat in London.
4) Proximity to the Tube
This one is connected to the previous one.
It’s important that your house is close to the tube station.
You don’t want to spend your time to get from your house the Tube.
Trust me on that.
5) Number of bedrooms
When you are young, the number of bedrooms inside a house is not as significant.
After all, all you need is a place near to a vibrant area.
But, as you grow older and especially when you have a family, the number of bedrooms inside your flat is very important.
Do you have a car or thinking to buy one?
Then you definitely need to find an area that has free parking spots or car parks nearby.
Let’s move on to the last one.
If you have a pet and looking for a house, you need to be sure that your landlord and roommates are ok with your pet.
Luckily for you, there are many pet-friendly apartments in London.
In this guide, you can find tips, websites, and apps to find a flat in London when you are moving in with a dog.
Make sure to take a look.
Of course, there are many other must-haves, but these are some of the most common ones.
Tip #6: Set a Budget for Your Rent
Even though I mentioned that earlier, setting a budget for your rent will make finding a flat easier for you.
Because one of the first things that the real estate agent is going to ask is:
“What is your budget?”
Plus, one of the primary filters you will use on property websites is the budget one:
Be sure as to what your exact budget is before starting your research.
This will make the whole process a lot easier.
Tip #7: Make a Schedule for Your London Flat Hunting
This is the 7th tip I have for you.
Especially if you are moving to London from abroad, you need to have a schedule for your London flat hunting.
Here is how it goes:
Most landlords list their websites or call agents to do so early in the week.
This means that many properties are not publicly visible until mid-week.
What does that mean for you?
That the best time to look for a flat is mid-week since many of the properties that the real estate agent will show you won’t be publicly visible.
Also, if your time in the city is limited—and that happens quite often—you may want to have a tight schedule so that you catch up with everything.
The more organized you are, the better.
Bonus Tip: If you are looking for flats in different London areas, you can use an app like Citymapper to get to places easier and cheaper.
Tip #8: Be Ready to Showcase References (for Your Income and Pets)
You’ve read that correctly.
When renting in London—especially in expensive areas—you have to be ready to showcase references for your income.
If you have pets, you may have to showcase references for them as well.
But, what is a reference, and how can it help?
A reference from a previous landlord is proof that:
- You are trustworthy as a person
- You are a good neighbour for others
- You are reliable and you pay on time
- Your pet does not cause any problems for other people
This may seem a bit overwhelming, but it can definitely make a difference and help you get the flat that you are dreaming of.
The primary documents you need to have to get a house in London are:
- Proof of identity (i.e., ID Card, a copy of your VISA)
- Proof of employment and income
- References (as mentioned above)
Tip #9: Do Your Research About the Neighborhood
The neighborhood you are going to live in plays a crucial role in your mood and the overall experience you’ll have in a particular house.
This is why I suggest that you get to meet your neighbours before renting a new house.
Just say “hi,” and try to chat for a while.
Ask them how living in that neighborhood looks like and what you should expect.
Quite often, this can make the difference between a good and a wrong choice.
Also, it would be nice to see what other people say about this neighborhood online so that you know what to expect.
You can read a MASSIVE guide we’ve prepared with the best areas to live in London in 2020:
Let’s move on to the last tip I have for you.
Tip #10: Be Flexible & Don’t Procrastinate
I’ll keep this one super-short.
When looking for a house in London, NEVER, ever procrastinate.
If you like something and you think you should get it, just get it.
Don’t wait to find the ideal.
The ideal is objective.
And, in a market like London’s where hundreds of thousands of people are in the same situation as you are—actively looking for a house—you need to be FAST.
You also need to adapt and be ready to make compromises.
This is why I suggest that you are flexible and don’t procrastinate.
Before You Go!
So there you have it.
Now you know what are the best tips when searching for a flat in London.
Before you go, I want you to keep one thing in mind:
The more well-prepared and organised you are, the better the flat you’ll be able to find.
Finding an apartment in London is NOT easy.
However, it can get easier if you know what you want, and you are willing to keep yourself organised throughout the process.
If you need any help with:
- Moving your items to your new house
- Store your items between moves
Give us a call on 020 3637 1234 and talk to one of our moving and storage experts.
Some additional resources you might find useful: