Finding a decent flat in London: tips from a pro

How much does it cost to rent in London?

The average monthly rent for a double room in London (with some bills included) is just under £750 a month*. There’s a big variation within that though.

St Paul's cathedral London long exposure

St Paul’s is one of the most expensive places to live in London (Picture: Davide D’Amico on Flickr)

For example, there are six postcodes in London with monthly average rents over £1,000 for a double room*. Unsurprisingly, they’re all central or in affluent SW postcodes like Chelsea and Knightsbridge.

  • EC4 St Paul’s £1,192
  • SW7 South Kensington/Knightsbridge £1,153
  • WC2 Strand/Holborn £1,053
  • SW3 Chelsea £1,049
  • SW1 Westminster/Belgravia/Pimlico £1,001
  • SW10 West Brompton/Chelsea £1,001

At the other end of the double-room price scale you’ll find another six postcodes with average rents of £550 or less a month*, all in East or South East London.

  • E12 Manor Park £537
  • SE18 Plumstead/Woolwich £537
  • E6 East Ham £542
  • SE7 Charlton £542
  • SE2 Abbey Wood £550
  • SE9 Eltham £550

Eltham has plenty of green space, cheaper rent and a palace nearby (Picture: DncnH on Flickr)

Chances are you’ve heard of most of the expensive areas but not the cheap ones.

In the middle, of course, are around 100 more postcodes with rents nearer that average of £750, so there are plenty of options.

What should you look for in a new London flat?

So, the main things you need to work out before you even start looking are:

How much rent you can afford

Don’t forget you’ll need to budget for bills as well so make sure you know your total mount. Most rooms will include some bills but it’s essential you know exactly what you’re paying for in advance so there are no surprises later on

Where you’ll be spending most of your time

If you’re coming to London to study then this is fairly simple. If you’re coming to work and don’t have a job yet it could be a bit more complicated.

Your perfect London area needs to be commutable to/from work or study (Picture: Fabio Venni on Flickr)

The main thing is to broaden your search beyond the area you’re likely to be working; look at surrounding areas, or those on the same tube/train line.

Most people in London commute to where they work or study – it’s just a case of keeping it as simple as you can.

How to find potential flatmates

One way of working out where you want to live and finding potential flatmates is Speed Flatmating, run by SpareRoom.co.uk.

These events take place in bars several times a week in London, as well as in Manchester (and New York!) Most cater for a specific area but there’s also a weekly Zones 1-3 event that covers a wide range of areas.

Just like thinking bob‘s socials, SpeedFlatmating events focus on people rather than property so you can chat to a lot of people in one go; they’re particularly useful if you’re new to London and don’t know anyone. They’ll give you a chance to find out which areas sound good and also what budgets are like.

Meeting people in relaxed environments is a great way to meet new flatmates… and friends (Picture: thinking bob)

As an added bonus you might just meet other people in your situation and decide to Buddy Up so you can flat hunt as a group.

The viewing

Before/during the viewing

When meeting people at the event, or during a viewing, don’t forget to discuss the formalities like rent, bills and contract, but also other, lifestyle related details like working hours, whether it’s a social house and whether guests are allowed.

It’s good to iron out these things at the start so that you know where you stand.

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