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The quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom varies widely. While expats may struggle to find spacious, high-quality accommodation that doesn't break the bank in notoriously expensive London, there are many areas of the UK where it's much easier to find appropriate housing at a decent price.
Types of accommodation in the United Kingdom
Accommodation in the UK is generally in the form of houses – whether freestanding or as rowhouses – and apartments (known as flats). All these types of housing are widespread throughout the UK, with flats dominating in the more urban areas.
House-sharing (renting an individual room in a larger house shared by others) is another popular option among single expats in the United Kingdom – and is an avenue usually pursued out of financial necessity. Still, for young expats this can be a great way to meet new people.
Finding accommodation in the United Kingdom
Finding a place to rent in the UK is a straightforward process, but it can be made more difficult by the speed at which the market moves. Expats should be prepared to move quickly when they see a place they like, as the competition for good-value rentals can be cut-throat.
As far as finding a place to rent goes, expats have a number of options. Local newspapers and magazines carry private listings and tenants will be able to call the owner or landlord directly to arrange a viewing, while websites and internet property portals also regularly publish rental adverts – these are especially good for house-sharing options (use 'room to rent' as a search term). And, of course, real-estate agents are a dependable source of information and help when it comes to looking for a place to rent, but they charge for their services.
Renting accommodation in the UK
Renting accommodation in the UK is a fairly straightforward process. Lease agreements are generally signed on a six-month or one-year basis, with an option to renew should the tenant desire to do so.
A six-month break clause can be negotiated for 12-month leases, allowing the tenant to back out of the full term with 30 or 60 days notice. Expats must be wary of this clause as it cuts both ways – and since rental prices are attached to market prices in the UK, an unscrupulous landlord might look to break the rental agreement early should these fluctuate and charge new tenants a higher monthly fee.
Note that expats will also be required to provide four to six weeks' rent as a deposit to secure a rental agreement. Tenants will also likely be liable for their own gas, electricity, water, phone, internet and council tax bills while renting in the UK.
Buying property in the UK
Foreigners interested in buying property in the UK will need to engage the services of a reliable estate agent, who can help them find a suitable property. Once the buyer finds a property, the agent can also help with conveyancing (although some buyers hire a property lawyer to handle this).
Mortgages can be sought through any bank or building society, provided that expats are able to supply appropriate documentation such as evidence of earnings and reference letters.
►For a more detailed breakdown of the rental process, read our guide to Renting Property in the UK
Are you an expat living in The United Kingdom?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The United Kingdom. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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