An affordable apartment? In London? Yes, it can sometimes be hard to find an apartment within price range in the capital, but it’s not impossible. If you are happy to spend some time doing your research, it’s possible to discover how to find an affordable apartment in London, and be very happy in your new home.
Trust me- I found an affordable apartment in London for myself!
By taking the time to conduct your research on local neighbourhoods, go to viewings, and work out your commuting costs, you will eventually find the right apartment for you- at a price that is within your budget.
How to find an affordable apartment in London
Location, Location, Location
Finding an affordable flat in London is all about the location. Generally speaking, the further you move out from the city centre, the cheaper the apartment will be.
If you look at a London tube map, typically, zones 1 and 2 are the most expensive. Consider branching out into zones 3-8 (yes, the tube really goes that far!) to find cheaper options.
What are the cheapest areas to rent in London?
Some of the cheapest areas to rent in London are areas which have not yet had lots of money invested in them. What they lack in quaint coffee shops and independent boutiques, they make up for it in cheap rent prices.
These are some of the cheapest areas in London to consider if you’d like to live in London for less…
Another option to consider if your budget is tight, is to move to somewhere which is not served by a tube line. Can you ever consider yourself a Londoner if you’re not served by a tube line?! I think the answer to that is yes. Many of these areas are served by a rail service- some of which can take you into London in as little as 35 minutes!
If you’re comfortable with moving a little further out of the city to somewhere that is not served by a tube line, you could consider the following areas…
- West Norwood
- Thornton Heath
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Research potential neighbourhoods
It’s important to research each area you’re interested in to make sure that you would be comfortable and happy living in that neighbourhood. Even if the rent is super-cheap, you want to make sure that you will feel safe and at home living in that area.
Cheaper does not always mean better- and for an apartment to be truly considered affordable, it needs to suit your needs.
When researching an area of interest, it’s a good idea to check out Google Maps (Street View is a particularly useful tool) and Google Images to make sure that you like the look of the area. Have a look at the high street and amenities, and see if you can imagine yourself living there.
If you are moving to a cheap area, it’s also a good idea to check out the crime statistics there if this is something that you are worried about- a quick Google search will help you make up your mind about whether the area is suited to you.
This is one of the most important steps in finding an affordable apartment in London if you’ve never lived in the city before- it will save you a lot of precious time and disappointment.
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Make a list of must-haves
When you start the search for your ideal affordable apartment, consider your ‘must haves.’ For example, do you need a parking space? Does the flat need to be pet-friendly?
Do you have kids and need to be close to a good school? Is a bath a must-have? Or maybe a good freezer? (You’d be surprised at the number of London flats without a decent freezer!)
Create your list, and stick with this to narrow down your search. Having a list of ‘must-haves’ also helps if you want to go and see an estate agent. It will help the estate agent (and you!) because you’ll only be shown properties that align with your needs.
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Transport links are a HUGE factor in how affordable a flat can be in London. Generally speaking, the closer an apartment is to a tube station (10 min walk or less), the more expensive it will be. If you have a car, this won’t be as important and you could consider cheaper options which are further away from a station.
However, if you want to explore the city by public transport and have flexible transport options available to you, it’s an absolute must to make sure you are near a bus stop or train station.
A way to get around this is to move into a flat which is next to railway tracks. They are usually cheaper than other areas as they can be deemed more undesirable. However, often the noise isn’t actually that bad if the windows have double glazing, and train services will often close from midnight-5am during the week so it is unlikely to disrupt your sleep.
I’ve personally lived in two homes which have been next to railway lines- and aside from a barely noticeable tremor as the trains go past, it’s been absolutely fine.
Commuting costs in London can be astronomical- it’s not unusual for commuting costs for a Londoner to exceed £2,000 per year.
If you will be commuting to work each day, it’s also important to consider the maximum time you want to spend on a train or bus. A 90 minute commute each way can sound feasible to begin with, but once you are spending 15 hours of your spare time on a cramped train a week- you might start to begrudge it.
Consider whether a 3 hour round trip is worth it for the saving that you would make on rent- as yourself, is the cost of the commute plus the length of the commute worth it?
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to see whether the additional travel cost of moving further away from central London is worth it. Could you walk to work instead, pay a little more for your rent and save the cost of transport instead?
Make sure that you get your travel costs straight and work out all possible commuting routes before committing to an apartment.
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Where to find an affordable apartment in London?
Affordable apartments in London are hiding everywhere- you just have to know where to look. Strangely, I found our affordable apartment through an estate agent and pay just £1,270 (split between myself and my partner) for a 1 bedroom apartment in an expensive West London neighbourhood. Crazy right?!
Don’t write off estate agents completely, as they might surprise you. If they know what you are looking for (as they will have seen your list of must-haves beforehand), they might even be able to show you flats which have just come on the market that day, and haven’t been listed online yet.
Other websites you might like to consider are as follows…
Consider flat shares and house shares
If you want to make some serious savings on your rent, consider living in a flat share or house share with several others.
This works whether you are a single person looking for a room, or a couple.
If you are a couple house sharing, you can expect to make large savings on your living costs which can really help if you have some big financial goals that you would like to reach. For example, if you want to pay off debt, or save for a house deposit.
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The best way to start the house share process, is to head to Spareroom. Here you can either find existing house shares who just need a new housemate OR you can find people who are also looking for a house share and start a new house share of your own!
The second option can work really well- especially if you turn a lounge in a house share into another bedroom instead. This means that the rent is even lower for all of you. I have a friend who paid less than £300 for her room (shared with her partner) in a flat share in Highbury & Islington!
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Always try to negotiate the price of the apartment with the estate agent or landlord- if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I saved £50 per month by agreeing to sign for two years instead of just one.
You don’t know how long the apartment may have been on the market, if you’re the landlord’s ideal tenant, or if they are keen to fill the flat for longer than a year.
If you have a budget in mind and the flat is being advertised for slightly more than your budget, you may well be able to negotiate the price down if the landlord feels that you are the right kind of tenant for them.
Key things to remember:
- Look to other neighbourhoods which aren’t served by a tube line
- Thoroughly research the area you are interested in before going to viewings
- Consider the transport links and commuting costs
- Consider whether a flat share or house share could be suitable for you
- Negotiate to get a better price