‘I was really surprised that when I first came to London, I was sharing a house with 9 other people’ – Hungarian
‘Property in the UK is so damp’ – Canadian
The most important factor to know about living in the UK is that there is a serious housing shortage. The population has grown rapidly and house building has not kept up. This makes finding good property difficult. The most prosperous area of the UK is London and the South East where 25% of the population lives, this, of course, makes it expensive. House prices have risen by over one-fifth in London and the South East since 2008 and fallen by more than 5% elsewhere in the UK (Economist, p27 Sept 17th 23rd, 2016). ThisisMoney.co.uk says that Londoners spent between 45-59% of their income on rent and in the North East, it’s 25%.
If you are living in a big city, the quality of accommodation may not be what you might expect. Living in a city like London, it’s likely that to stay anywhere and not spend all your money on rent, you will have to share with more people than you might want to. If you see somewhere suitable, you are going to have to be quick about securing it, handing over the deposit and producing your I.D. You also need to be careful, there have been some scams with people pretending to tenants that they own a house, showing them around, taking their deposit and then disappearing with their money.
To rent a house, you need a bank account and references. This can be complicated as for some bank accounts, you need an address. One way round this can be to pay 6 months rent in advance, which is a lot!
Different kinds of landlords
As property is so expensive, for lots of British people who have been fortunate enough to buy, their main asset is their house. Sometimes people have bought on what is called a ‘buy to let’ mortgage which means that their tenant pays their mortgage, through their rent. These properties will be advertised on websites such as:
You may also find property advertised by letting agents.
When renting, you are likely to have to move quite frequently as landlords want their property back, put up rent etc.
Housing Associations qualify as social housing and may have particular groups of people that they provide housing for. They will provide rented accommodation at a reasonable price but to get a place in one is quite hard.
You can find more information on .Gov.UK. Housing Associations.
There is a very limited supply of council housing and in one London Borough, the waiting list is 35 years. Councils are likely to prioritise people who have lived in their borough and those most in need.
You can find more information on .Gov.UK. Council Housing.
Buying a property
If you can afford it, this will give you the most security in your accommodation. You will need some savings as you will need to come up with a deposit and to be able to show that you can pay the bank back the money they will lend you. To find out more about organising the finance go to: Mortgage Calculator website.
Costs vary hugely across the UK and you can find out more about prices on the major accommodation websites:
You will always need to be aware of the risks when you buy, that property prices could fall and you could end up paying for something that is not worth the price you paid, this is called negative equity.
For a discussion on finding properties and what works best when sharing with groups of people go to https://www.facebook.com/TogetherintheUK/.