Prerequisite: internet, a little patience and some savviness.
For a short stay we recommend the following solutions: Youth hostels, Airbnb, student halls and couchsurfing
London’s youth hostels are getting cooler through time. Those that we will advise you are clean, secure, and have bars inside, making it easy to meet other travellers and socialise.
For more hostel options, we advise you to go to Hostelworld.com but in general, be aware that booking on the hostel’s website directly costs less.
Airbnb is a website that allows private individuals to rent out a room, apartment, house, castle or other property to another individual. The benefit is in the protection offered by the site, securing the payment and a bit more privacy. Stick to properties with comments. This ensures that the description is consistent with reality. Know that Airbnb is not the only one in this niche, some other websites are:
There are plenty of student residences and below you will find a list of recommanded ones. If you want professional advice, we suggest Londonnest which is an agency that can help you in this field.
You will need patience, coffee and internet. It can be a long process to find your own little heaven of peace, but it is possible.
The most common and least expensive (by far) is flat sharing. So between agencies, online ads or even Facebook, you have plenty of choice. You can do it in advance, but know that 1 month is enough, or even when you get here, to find the right set up, it’s doable.
There are many sites that let you easily find housing, for all price ranges and locations in London. Spareroom is the best known, offering many ads and it is free to use. The only problem is that the free side has its limits and you will only have access to the ads one week after their publication. With that said, it doesn’t matter too much, but there is an option called “Early Bird Access”, which makes it possible to be able to contact the advertisers as soon as the ad is posted. So the best rooms are likely to be taken before you have been given access to them. For information, a 1 week subscription costs £10.99. Of course, don’t stop at the first site, Rightmove, Zoopla or even Gumtree and the Houseshop are other options that will give you an idea of the market.
Beware of scammers, try to request as much information, pictures and arrange a viewing if possible before giving any money.
You can also find a room through Facebook groups likeThe French Circle in London, the London Calling group or even our own group Bonjour Frenchy, if you are looking for french flatmates for example. In these groups you will be able to ask all kind of questions, about everyday life, looking for a job and therefore also for housing. Keep an eye on these pages, members publish very often, and good deals go fast. Know that even on an ad posted on social networks, you are likely to have agency fees.
As far as agencies are concerned, their role will be to find you housing that you have chosen from their offers. Their fee for this service usually start from £100 and varies depending on the reputation of the agency. Some names of French agencies: CEI, Horizon London, London nest
Like in France, you will be asked for a deposit to offset damage to the property. This can be one to two months’ rent, sometimes more, but theoretically, this amount will be returned to you in full at the end of your contract if you have not caused any damage during the rental. This is why we must be extremely careful during the inventory that you will do, so as not to be held unfairly responsible for a problem. If you are having trouble recovering your deposit, go on Moneyclaim.
Finally, a few keywords used in the ads: rents are expressed per week (pw) or per month (pm). Always look at whether “bills” (utilities) are included, and which ones. In general everything is included, including Council Tax. Finally in most of the ads for rentals they talk about zones, 1/2/3…, these are the zones used for the underground. In short, zone 1 is the centre, zone 2 is around the centre, zone 3 around zone 2 etc.. The closer you get to the centre, the higher the prices. If you are looking for something affordable, look between zones 2 and 3.
One last piece of advice, and probably the most useful, is not to arrange your housing from France, or to ask someone to visit it for you. It will save you from any scams. You can get a room in a youth hostel for a few days and so take the time to visit the accommodation and truly see what awaits you.
You are now armed with enough information to go out and find your nest in London, if you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to leave a comment, we will update our article based on your comments in order to make it more informative and relevant.