Finding Shared Accommodation in the UK For Australians & Kiwis
Moving in the UK can be one of the biggest life decisions you will ever make. It means adjusting to new country, new culture, new place and new people. And perhaps one of the most challenging of all is finding the right place for you to settle in, especially if you can only afford shared accommodation.
How do you go about your search? Where should you start looking? How do you choose your flat mate?
Let us tackle those questions and probably some other one at a time.
Where do I start?
If you are new to the country, one of the best things you can do is keep an eye on it, use some common sense and follow your instincts. This means listening to your friends’ advice on where the good neighbourhoods are, looking for a flat-share close to your school or university or explore trendier areas. You can check out The Office for National Statistics’ website for information about any neighbourhood. You might also find it useful to collect the following info:
- Lists of hostels, B&B and emergency accommodation
- Lists of accommodation agencies
- Contact details of housing associations
Should I use an agent or not?
Housing scams are widespread in the UK. Many people who use sites like Gumtree, which is infamous for fraudulent postings, have lost their money through reservation or deposit. So be careful with flat listings that seem too good to be true-it’s either the place is already occupied, is really a hotel room, or doesn’t exist.
One of the best ways to avoid these scams is to use an estate agent. You can find them on websites such as RightMove, Prime Location, and Find a Property. Just give them a ring to schedule for viewing appointments.
How do I choose my flatmate?
Living in shared accommodation allows you to save on rent and offers you an opportunity to build great friendship, provided of course that you are living with compatible people. But how do you really ensure that you’ve chosen the perfect roommate? Here are some tips you might find helpful:
1. Decide what you want from a flatmate. If you are new to the country, living in shared accommodation allows you to create new social circle, and therefore you want someone who share similar interest with you, can relate to you, and is open to going out with you.
2. Check if you have compatible lifestyle and hygiene standard. If you’re the early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise kind of person, you will probably not enjoy living with somebody who works until the wee hours or gets home around midnight after spending several hours at local pubs. Likewise, if you’re the kind who likes everything clean and tidy, you will more likely find it stressful to live with someone who doesn’t bother about leaving the dishes in the sink for
3. Do a little background check of the people you’re going to live with. Stalk a little bit on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, probably. But much better if you meet with everyone before agreeing to move in. Have a little chat with them, get a feel of the home environment, and see if you can be friends with everyone. The last thing you want is to find out too late that you hate one of your flatmates.
4. Ask for the house rules and regulations, and see if you can stick with them. For harmony’s sake, most households will have at least some expectations and rules (written or unwritten) for the occupants. Thoroughly check the list and see if you won’t have any problem following them.