Accommodation in London
The bustling London metropolis has a range of accommodation options to suit almost any expat’s budget, lifestyle and background. There are areas and suburbs of London that are perfect for the young professional, the expat family, foreign students and high-flying business executives.
London is a great cosmopolitan city and expats will have the opportunity to mix with people from all over the globe. Thanks to the city's excellent public transport, getting around won’t be too much of a problem, although some areas are better serviced than others. Most expats moving to London opt to rent property rather than buy it, at least initially. Many will find that their employer will assist them in finding a suitable rental property. Expats looking to settle in the United Kingdom can opt to buy property, but house prices in the city are among the highest in the world.
Types of accommodation in London
Expats moving to London will find a variety of different property types available to them. The type of property one chooses will depend on the location they want to live in, their family's requirements and of course their budget. Generally, the further one moves from the city centre the more choice they'll have and the larger the properties will be.
Property in London can broadly be divided into two types:
Flats (apartments) – either part of a large development or a conversion, which is a house that has been separated into flats
Detached houses – these can be old or new but are usually located outside of central London. They typically offer bigger spaces, more bedrooms and a garden.
Finding property in London
Finding suitable accommodation in London is not always an easy task and expats are advised to do some research and start the search before leaving their home country. New arrivals usually find it useful to enlist the professional services of a real estate agent who is familiar with the property market in the particular area or suburb of London that an individual is interested in. A major advantage of liaising with agents is that they often have access to properties that are yet to make it onto public listings.
Otherwise, expats can try scouring online property portals or expat groups on social media to find an appropriate place to live.
Renting accommodation in London
Most rental properties in London are unfurnished, but many come fully furnished. The standards of properties and the furnishings tend to be high and expats may find that furnished flats and houses include everything from the beds to the cutlery and crockery in the kitchen. Due to the short-term nature of expat assignments, most opt to live in fully furnished accommodation.
Leases vary depending on the landlord. Short- and long-term rentals are available in London. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if a lease covers a period of less than six months, the tenant should expect the rental price to be significantly higher than what they’d pay for a long-term let. In some instances, tenants can negotiate a break clause that allows them to terminate a lease earlier, with a 30- or 60-day notice period. Expats should be prepared to put down a deposit equal to one to two months' rent and have referral letters from their employer and previous landlords.
Expats should note that utilities such as electricity, gas and water, along with council tax, are usually not included in the quoted rental price and will be an extra expense. Before moving in, confirm with the real estate agent or landlord that all utilities are set up and switched on, ready to be used come move-in day.