Step 3: How to find accommodation in the UK?

Moving to a new home itself can be quite hard, so when you’re moving to a brand new country, it can be even trickier.

So,where to start? If you keep the following tips in mind as you search, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and headache.

Ask the locals

Getting to know a big city takes time – don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Talk to your friends, family and coworkers about the different neighbourhoods. This way you can get a better idea of what places might be best for you to live in.

Are you looking for something more residential, or would you be more interested in a place that is close to bars and restaurants? If you have a job or are going to school, how far away will your home be? Consider everything from daily travels to night-life to help you figure out what’s best for you.

Know your budget – and what you’re looking for

Figure out exactly what your budget will be so you can start your search with a set amount.

In the UK they list rentals by both cost per month and cost per week, so make sure to look for “PCM [per calendar month]” and “PW [per week]” to help distinguish your rent. Keep in mind that on top of the rent, you’ll also have bills for utilities: gas, water, electricity and council tax.

Council tax is a mandatory tax in the UK that goes towards local services that help keep your property and the area safe and clean. It will pay for things like rubbish collection, street cleaning, maintenance of roads and your local libraries or schools.

We’ve collected some monthly averages for bills so that you can get an idea, but please do note that they are just estimates and can vary based on the property’s size and location and personal useage.

Gas: 1-2 bed = £45 / 3-4 bed = £70
Electricity: 1-2 bed = £55 / 3-4 bed = £65
Water: 1-2 bed = £35 / 3-4 bed = £40
Council Tax: 1-2 bed = £100 to 140 / 3-4 bed = £110 to £190

A lot of homes come furnished, so think about if you’d prefer this or prefer to buy/bring your own. When you’re looking at places in the UK, also have a think about the distance from train or bus stations. In London, the city is divided into Zones 1-6 – while you might save money on rent if you decide to liver farther out, the tube or rail pass prices will go up, so overall it might not end up saving you as much as you had thought. Busses are a great option for saving money, as they are always £1.50, no matter what zone you travel to. Plus they now have the bus-hopper fare which lets you transfer to other busses with no extra charge.

Be prepared to move fast

The housing market in the UK moves very quickly. If a place is listed as available in the morning, it could very well be gone by that same afternoon. This means you’ll have to be ready to make an offer on a place you really like right away. The landlord or agent will know you’re serious and they can get the paperwork started.

There are a lot of upfront costs that will come with renting a flat. You’ll need to be able to pay your deposit, provide a reference and background check, plus if you’re using an agency, they will come with a fee.

The standard deposit is usually made up of 4-6 weeks of rent, and agency fees can range from about £100-500 depending. Some landlords or agencies will accept cash while others will prefer a transfer.

With Azimo you can send money quickly and securely, with most transactions going through in just one working day. If you need to transfer money to the agent or landlord, download our app or try our site for a hassle-free transfer – your first one is on us!

Know your rights

Never feel pressured by anyone to sign a lease that you don’t feel comfortable with. Take your time to read over everything.

Things to check your contract for:

  • If anything happens in the flat (like a leak happening or your fridge not working), it is your landlord’s responsibility to fix it – the lease should include exactly what your landlord is required to fix.
  • In order to fix any problems, make sure that the contract states the landlord must ask your permission first before entering the flat when you are not there. Generally the rule is that they must ask you to do so unless it’s an emergency.
  • A deposit scheme – this is of the utmost importance. Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). This will protect your deposit in case any dispute arises, and will ensure that you get it back within 10 days at the end of the lease, as long as nothing is broken or damaged.
  • The break clause and notice period. For example if you sign an agreement for 12 months, but might want to leave a little bit sooner, there will be a section in the contract to state when this will be allowed free of charge and how many months or weeks notice you need to give.

Also, take your time to not only read over everything, but to look over everything. Inspect the home and make sure everything is in working order so you can let them know before you move in. Does your shower work? How about the oven and the hob? Has everything been cleaned?

Search online, but don’t forget to go offline too

There are a lot of great websites available to help make looking for properties in the UK very simple.

Some of the most popular sites are Rightmove and Zoopla. These sites work with both landlords and agencies. Another great site that only works directly with landlords is OpenRent. If you’re looking for a flatmate, these are some of our favourite sites to connect you with great, like-minded people: SpareRoom and EasyRoomate.

If you’re more of an app person, don’t worry! A lot of the above mentioned sites have apps available for download from AppStore or Google Play. Other top choices include Movebubble, Knocker, and FindAProperty.

But that doesn’t mean you have to limit your options to looking only online.

If it fits for you and your budget, it might be worth getting in touch with any local agencies to help you. They do come with an agency fee as we mentioned, however it can definitely speed up the process and eliminate a lot of time spent searching.

They’ll have the most up to date records of what’s available and what isn’t, as sometimes ads online might no longer be free but haven’t been taken down yet.

After you find a flat and have started to really settle into your new country, one of the next steps to do is open up a bank account.

Stay tuned for next week’s article as we’ll go over how to open one in the UK, hassle-free!