In this the city of dreams, most of us will be renting for a loooong time, and the thought of buying a house is almost laughable. So many of us will have the unpleasant and oftentimes stressful task of house/flat hunting in the Big Smoke on more than one occasion! I’ll be moving into a lovely 2 bed flat with my friend Holls next month, and it was only the second place we viewed. That’s got to be some kind of record right?! It was actually an easy, stress free process, and all sorted over a month before we actually needed to move! You too can prevent sleepless nights when it comes to finding a new pad, and here’s how.
1. Be promiscuous. You may well have a dream location but when you’re looking for a property in London, you need to spread your wings. You should look 1-2 stations either side of your ideal. Holls and I wanted to live near Liverpool Street station, so we looked at Bethnal Green and Mile End, plus surrounding areas too.
2. The early bird…The most frustrating thing about the London rental market is that everything seems to be available to move in NOW! Do people not plan ahead anymore?! We started looking about 2 months before D Day and had to discount almost every ad as there was no way a landlord with a property available now would hold out for us. This was extremely annoying but also a good thing as it naturally narrowed down our choices. On the other hand, if you do leave it last minute, you need to be ready to drop everything and rush to a viewing, and be ready to say the word there and then. If you leave it for even an hour, there is a high chance that someone else will have snapped it up.
3. Stick to your guns. You need to come up with a list of must-haves, and stick to it! One of our must-haves was a living room, and it was tempting to waive this when we saw so many nice places that didn’t have one. But if you persevere and stick to your list, you will find something that matches! Bear in mind though, that this needs to be a realistic list. We would have loved somewhere with some outdoor space but knew this was a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’.
4. Speed Date. Spareroom.com run an event called SpeedFlatmating which is actually pretty useful. Both people looking for rooms and people with spare rooms go along. You get to talk to people and get an idea of whether or not you would get along before you go and view the house. They have events for different areas of London (and some other cities). Unless you really are open to living pretty much anywhere, I would avoid the Zones 1-3 event. It’s just too broad – we only met two people who were looking in the same area as us whereas if we had gone to the East End event we probably would have had better luck. The event is usually free or only a couple of pounds so I would definitely recommend it.
So these are my top tips for house hunting in London. I can’t wait to show you our new flat! Watch this space.
Are you looking for a spare room or a property to rent? How’s it going? Let me know in the comments!