Finding accommodation

Finding suitable accommodation can be expensive and time consuming, especially in an unfamiliar city. Not so long ago, low interest rates and competitive mortgage deals led to a shortage of decent rental property. Today, home owning is more expensive and has released property onto the rental market.

Letting agencies may charge a fee for finding you somewhere to live, so you may prefer to find a flat or bedsit yourself. Decide who you’re going to live with and where (be realistic), then work out how much you can afford and start trawling through local newspapers or the local edition of classifieds paperLoot. In London, the Capital Flatshare listings are available from 18.00 every Wednesday from Capital Radio’s Leicester Square HQ and are printed in the Guardian’s Space supplement the following day.

Searching for the perfect pad


  • Try not to visit properties alone. If you have to, tell a friend where you’ve gone and when you’ll be back


  • Rent will be your biggest expense, usually accounting for 20-25% of disposable income. Many people over commit, underestimating bills (including Council Tax) and other expenses. It’s not fun living in a palace if you have no money to go out, so try to err on the side of caution


  • It is usual to pay one month’s rent in advance and another month’s rent as a deposit. The most common rental contract is an assured shorthold tenancy, where after an initial period – minimum six months – the landlord can give the tenant one months notice to leave, or vice versa


  • Make sure that there is an inventory listing all the property’s contents and their state of repair, so when you leave there are no disagreements over reclaiming your deposit because of broken or missing items


  • Don’t be rushed into a decision and never sign a contract that you do not understand before seeking clarification from your landlord, or if necessary from the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)


  • When choosing rental property check with the landlord that it includes the following features: Smoke detectors, burglar alarm, window locks, five lever door locks (front and rear) and Corgi gas certificate


  • Put aside money for adequate contents insurance


  • If problems arise after you move in, talk to your landlord immediately. Don’t let poor communication make the situation worse. Again, contact the CAB to clarify your rights



Flatsharing tips


  • It is very important to consider how you get living with other people and how they would get on with you. Ask potential flatmates what they do for a living and get them to talk about their interests, likes and dislikes


  • Living with friends can get round the problem of knowing whether you will have anything in common with potential flatmates. But it is still worthwhile having a frank discussion about expectations and if necessary establishing rules about things such as guests, cleaning, washing-up, sharing food, payment of bills


  • Bear in mind that you invariably have to deal with your flatmates’ friends and partners. If sharing with more than three people this can significantly raise the number of people who will be regularly in the house


Buying v renting

If you are lucky to have some capital, house ownership can be a relatively cheap option, because monthly mortgage payments are usually cheaper than paying a commercial rent for the same property.

If your new job is relatively stable and you’re prepared to pay for repairs and maintenance you can take advantage of the steady rise in house prices. 

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