If you’re moving to London but have had no experience living there before, choosing where to live is actually incredibly difficult. London is a large city with a population of almost 9 million people who come to live there from all over the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
London also isn’t organised in the same way that many other big cities are. For example, New York, Tokyo and even Buenos Aires have a grid style layout, which makes navigating much more simple than the ungainly, winding streets of London. The layout of the city has a lot to do with its history and the way it’s grown and changed to try to accommodate its ever growing population over the years. To put this into context, let’s take a look at London’s history…
London has been expanding for centuries without any particular plan. What started as a small Pagan settlement on the banks of the River Thames eventually became the Roman stronghold of Londinium, 2000 years ago. Since the Romans left, the site of London has remained the epicentre of the United Kingdom throughout several invasions and reinventions throughout history despite having crumbled or burned to the ground several times. Despite this you can still see some of the old Roman and medieval walls at certain sites close to London’s square mile.
London has grown organically into the city that it is now, which, although makes it one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in the world, also makes it one of the most confusing when it comes to getting around or choosing where to live.
Although finding your perfect London home isn’t an easy job, this article should help you figure out how to choose where to live in one of the most historically interesting and exciting cities in the world…
What to Keep in Mind when Choosing Where to Live in London
When choosing the ideal location, there are some key factors that you should keep in mind to help you pick the right location for you. Choosing the wrong place to live in the city can end up being a costly mistake. Moving house takes time and money, so it’s really not something you want to be doing twice in a short amount of time!
To avoid this, it’s really important to do the right research. If you don’t know London well, it can be a daunting prospect, however, don’t worry, you can get the right help and support if you know where to look.
People such as SnapdUp can give you free access to their trusted, local property experts for free! Once you’ve come up with a shortlist of areas, they will help you find the best properties in each area that meet your requirements and fit in with your budget. This is a great way to ease the pressure of searching through, often, thousands of property listings in the capital. If having a helping hand sound like a good idea to you, check SnapdUp out here.
Cost of Rent in London
Consider how much you will be able to afford to spend on rent. Rent prices in London can vary hugely depending on which area you live which makes this a big consideration for most people.
The Guardian Newspaper reported that Data from Countrywide survey showed that Londoners are typically spending up to 57% of their salary on rent in London, so working out what you can afford is a key factor in determining where you should live.
Transport in London
Most people living and working in London spend a considerable amount of time commuting to and from their places of work. An extra 30 minutes added onto a single journey may not sound like too much but this adds up to another five hours per week, not including any delays which can be a common experience on commutes.
Thinking realistically about your daily commute will help you decide which areas to live in London. If you want to live close to central London or in Zone 1 of the TFL (Transport for London) area then prices are, understandably, much higher in comparison to areas further from the centre. Properties in any zone are also higher in comparison to the rest of the area if they are close to good transport links, so if you have a bike and can easily cycle to a station to catch a tube or train, this could mean living slightly further away from transport links will save you money on rent.
Go online and use TFL, Google Maps or the popular Citymapper app to quickly work out transport links or driving and walking times between your place of work and areas you’re thinking of living in. This will help you eliminate areas that aren’t suitable, distance and transport wise, for your daily commute.
It sounds like a minor issue, but despite London being a busy city, you can’t always guarantee that you’ll have good mobile phone reception, especially if you’re living in an older building with extremely thick walls! If you work from home or if it’s actually really important for you to have good mobile signal on your current network, always remember to check your signal strength on your phone whilst you’re viewing a property.
Schools and Education
If you’re moving to London with children who need to attend school, choosing an area that has the right facilities for your family will be high on the list of importance.
If you’re moving from abroad, first check which year of school your child will be joining. Usually the school admissions pages of councils and some private schools will list birthdays of corresponding year groups so you can work this out. Schools in the UK usually start from Reception (for years 4-5) to year 1 (from 5-6) up to year 6. In the seventh year children then usually attend comprehensive school (high school) until they are 16, when they can then choose to attend college or sixth form from ages 16-18.
Check the catchment areas for the schools in each of your shortlisted areas so you can see which school or schools your children could be attending if you moved into that area. Each London borough handles its own school admissions process so although you cannot apply for a place at a state school before you are a resident of the borough, you can prepare. Call the schools admissions team in the borough you’re moving to, to find out which schools in the borough are likely to have spaces for your children.
Private schools do not require you to live in the borough before you apply, so if you’re moving from abroad this may be a good option for the first school year or term, if possible.
Have an idea of the ideal facilities and amenities that you’d like to live near. There are lots of things to consider and you may have to compromise with a few things on your list but make sure the things that are most important to you are addressed and researched.
Some examples might be:
- Parking space or on street parking and parking permit availability
- Walking distance (with bags) from a larger supermarket
- Close transport links (busses, trains, tube)
- Cycle lanes and bicycle facilities at local train and tube stations
- Close to local cafes and restaurants
- Walkable distance to parks or green spaces
- Being close to a good gym
- Living close to friends already in the area
Once you’ve chosen where to reside in London, the next step is viewing and choosing a property to call home. If you’re using a company such as SnapdUp you can be sure that rental contracts are legitimate and won’t contain any hidden surprises, however, if you’re viewing property rented by private landlords, it’s essential you take steps to ensure you have a legitimate rental contract.
Making sure that you’re happy with the contract is as important – if not more – as being happy with the location and the property itself. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a renter, and being aware of some simple rules and regulations that landlords should follow can make a big difference.