I was chatting to the lovely Kayleigh on Twitter last night as she’s thinking of moving to London and shared some of my wisdom with her. Made me think that now might be a nice time to write up this little article with some tips on moving to London based on my experience of moving to the London suburbs from Leeds and then spending 5 years in various places. Feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions or feedback via Twitter (@JayneKitsch) or in the comments of this post.
So, before I moved South I lived in Leeds city centre in a two bed, two bath flat in walking distance of EVERYTHING and super spacious, the biggest flat I’ve ever lived in, at the moment similar properties go for around £600 per month, super achievable for most couples who are working full time, even if you’re both in retail jobs!
When I first moved to London, I moved to Hampton in Middlesex, it’s in Zone 6 on the trains and a direct and regular route into London Waterloo (44 mins) as well as close to other useful places like Kingston, Twickenham, Heathrow Airport and Richmond (all around 30 mins) which opens up tons of options with regards to work and leisure. I lived in a small, but nice one bed flat with a tiny garden, similar properties at the moment are from £1000 per month, so at least double what you get in Leeds but for something far smaller.
When I moved more Central, I lived in Putney, which is on the District Line in South London, but also has a national rail station too which connects you to places like Kingston, Clapham, Reading and more. You’re about 30 mins from Central (Oxford Circus) and have trains and buses to use. You’re also walking distance of places like Fulham and Chelsea and lots of pretty outside places and everything you need in the town. I lived in a two floor 1 bed flat in Putney and similar properties at the moment are around £1200 per month, so you’re adding a couple of hundred to that budget for the convenience of the transport and access to central London.
The last place I lived in London was Shoreditch, pretty much right behind the High Street, right in the middle of Hipster party town. I lived in a two bed, spacious flat and shared with another couple (which did not end well, you can read about that experience here) a two bed in Central Shoreditch is around £2000 per month but as it’s a fashionable place to live you could pay a fortune, house shares are the cheapest option in this area, but as it’s a party town you never know who you might end up living with. You can walk to Central (Oxford Circus) in under an hour, but there’s loads of bus and tube routes that take as little as 15 mins to Central, when things go to plan!
Moving to London is NOTHING like trying to move to any other place in the UK, it’s massive and the variety of choice and styles of places to live is super diverse. Each district of London has different pros and cons and attract a different sort of people and the cost can also vary drastically, but you know you will most likely be paying at least double what you pay in any other UK city. Here’s a few things I’d recommend considering whilst you plan a move to London:
What do you want to do with your free time?
I don’t think many will think of this one at first, but as the vibe of different districts of London vary so much it is important to consider what you’ll do with your spare time to find an area that suits that mood. Hampton was quiet and peaceful, close to amenities and mainly occupied with families, Putney had a good balance of amenities, green spaces and a mix of young professionals and families the social scene is mainly pubs and trendy bars. However, Shoreditch is very much all about going out, partying and eating out, it is not a quiet place to live but if you want a vibrant social life you might enjoy it. So, before you choose where to look consider what sort of life you will have in that area, each district is basically it’s own mini town.
How much travel are you willing to deal with?
You naturally end up paying ALOT more the closer to the centre you live. London is arranged in Zones 1 being the centre and 6 being the furthest zone, the benefit of being within a zone means you have fairly reasonable travel expenses and convenience. However, you can experience journeys to Central London being anything from 15 mins to 2 hours despite living in a London postcode, so have a research and see what would suit you, look at buses, national rail, tube and walking/cycling routes.
What extra budget do you have for travel?
As touched on above, travel is essential in London as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to live in walking distance of your work if you work in Central. So make sure you account for extra budget for travel, there’s lots of money saving options for monthly or annual travelcards, but they may be more costly than you first thought.
What’s the most important things about your home?
Most people I know who live in London live in houseshares, it’s not for everyone but it’s definitely the cheapest way to do London living. However, it is possible to get a one bed place if you have the spare money and someone to share with. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get everything you want on your wishlist, so I’d recommend making a priority list for what you NEED. How much space do you want? Do you want outside space?
Can you afford to live in London?
London is a mega adventure and something I’m glad I did, but at the end I moved because the living costs were sapping my energy and my bank balance. Most rent only includes the place and not bills, so make sure you do a proper budget plan to ensure you’re not going to starve to death in the big city as even basic things like food and eating out will cost more.
Do you have the right earning evidence for gaining a lease in London?
This has caused me so much stress in the past! The safest way to rent a house in London in through a reputable agency, do some research, most of them are pretty stressful to work with but some of them are a pissing nightmare. The main problem with renting in London is that pretty much EVERYONE wants evidence that you earn enough (so ideally be working in a full time job and have proof of this) a MASSIVE deposit, sometimes three times the monthly rent and/or a guarantor. If you’re a freelancer you may find people want a year’s rent up front, which is pretty much the deposit for a house, so again do your research and make sure you have everything nailed down before you attempt to move.
Be organised! Houses go so fast!
Yes, there’s loads of great sites for browsing properties, but really what you need to do is go on a day, book a load of appointments and see everything suitable from those agencies. Places that go on the agency site in the morning are often gone by the afternoon, so don’t be surprised if you struggle to book viewings for the dream homes you’ve found online. I’d also recommend not waiting around when you do find somewhere perfect, as you risk loosing it. If you love it, put a deposit down which will secure it whilst you make final arrangements, you can often get this back if something goes wrong.
It doesn’t have to be London to be in London!
I’d really recommend looking at places outside London postcodes too, you can still commute so easily to the city without paying a fortune on your rent, a lot of people do this now, so have a look at places that have regular national rail routes into the city, some of those commutes are quicker than getting the tube from one side of London to the other, so well worth looking further afield for a more chilled lifestyle and cheaper living costs.
If you have any questions or suggestions you’d like to add tweet me @JayneKitsch or comment below. I hope this is helpful to some of you.