So for me, growing up in a small town, I always knew I wanted to move to London. However, it took me a year after university to make it to London, and then another 6 months until I managed to rent my own place. It’s not easy and there are so many things you learn along the way that you weren’t even aware of. So for any young people who are wanting to move to London, here are the things to know…
- What area to move to
- What to look for in a place
- Your average cost of living
- What apps all Londoners use
First up, have someone you can stay with for a couple of months. What with high rent prices and lack of houses, most flats going have hundreds of people who are interested. Personally, I think SpareRoom is the best as I don’t trust Gumtree and other places like Rightmove and Zoopla are for buying your own place (personal recommendation; pay for the EarlyBird option on Spareroom to get access to flats before others can take them). And make sure you have some savings. With a first place, you’ll need a month’s deposit, first month’s rent and normally admin fees which can easily be £1500-£2000 straight away.
What area to move to
In my opinion, for your first place? Ignore North and West. You may be able to find a place (I once heard a girl got a place in Kensington for £580. Myth…?) but normally most of these are expensive or so far out, there’s no point A few spots such as Finsbury Park or Archway (North, Zone 2) can be a good call but again, not always the cheapest. So where to head to?
Known as the area most graduates (and Australians) flock to, it has great clubs, great transport links with the Northern line going into Central London, and can be just about affordable. It’s a great place to start that feels like London but still has a young vibe.
It used to be pretty rough, but it’s on the up and has some great cafes and clubs that are opening, and is full of diverse cultures and communities. And being on the end of the Victoria line means you always get a seat on the tube, yet aren’t far from Oxford Circus.
Bethnal Green/Mile End
Shoreditch is great to get in as well, and has all of the pop-ups that you’ve heard of that are quirky and downright odd. Rooftop bars, men with beards and some great art vibes, mean that it is slowly becoming expensive but is also a great spot to go around London and be in the eclectic part of London, especially on the (very very hot) Central Line.
You can also go for other spots that will seem cheap such as Vauxhall (Zone 2) Streatham (Zone 3) or Tooting (Zone 3) but they will be cheap because they are further out, or don’t have a lot of shops or communities around.
What to look for in a place
First up; rent is expensive. But second up; ignore what people say about rent always being expensive.
Of course, it’s a lot in London and way more than the countryside, but ignore the Daily Fail’s “£900 gets you this broom cupboard with a shower”. You can also get great places for great prices, you just have to be quick. Right now, I’m in Zone 3, in a huge house, ensuite, paying £575 including bills. Now that is known as pretty cheap, and I’d say a good amount to pay for a place, including bills and council tax, is anywhere between £550 and £750. The further in you go, the more expensive, and the bigger place you go, the more expensive. Not rocket science. But where to move and what to look for?
- Get a living room; a shared kitchen with a sofa is hard to relax in, and you don’t want to always be in your room or stuck in the kitchen when someone’s burning bacon.
- Don’t judge it from the outside; sometimes a disgusting block of smelly flats has a gorgeous flat on the inside.
- Be prepared to sacrifice something; it can look a bit dated, or not be next to a tube station, but pick what is important. I don’t mind having a small place with old lady sofas if clean and near to work. Alternatively, if you don’t mind being a bit further out, you can get a swankier pad.
Your average cost of living
Sorry to break it to you but yep, life is expensive. So I thought I’d break it down what you’ll be averagely spending, and some ways to save some money when moving here.
- Rent: £650
- Bills: £60
- Council tax: £20
- Travel £144.40 (Zone 1-3)
- Food: £120 (£30 a week)
So you’re looking at easily, just under £1000 for daily living. Forgetting the impromptu drinks with work colleagues, a Pret when you forget your lunch or that cool exhibit popping up this weekend. Everyone is poor in London, no matter how much you’re on, but make sure you have some savings as a backup and that you’re sure you can live on what your first job is paying you.
What apps all Londoners use
The world of London is a busy and hugely confusing place, even for me when I’ve been here nearly a year now. So some apps help you function in the daily world. So no, Topshop app doesn’t count. There’s like one on every corner dude, man up.
First and foremost, this is the bad boy that you need to download the second you jump off that train at Paddington. Even the hardiest of London folk never forgo this baby. Telling you the quickest way to get anywhere, be it train, bus or walk, you can see when the next bus is due, what’s delayed, even whereabouts to get on the tube to be near the exit.
You may know central London but every now and then, a certain name will pop up that you’ve never heard of; where are you, East Acton? Or even if your mate moves somewhere new, it just means you can have a rough plan of just where the hell you’re going and, when you’re not underground, tells you of any delays.
Unless you’re a lucky sod, chances are you’ll be living Zone 2 and outwards and most of the time that includes an overground. Love it or hate it, they aren’t the most frequent of buggers and 9 times out of 10, are delayed. So this handy app tells you what platform and where it is at the moment. Normally 4 stations back and 25 minutes late but y’know, who’s keeping track?
Now not everyone agrees with dating apps, and even I can find them so draining when I firmly believe in meeting organically. However, this particular one if great if you work somewhere full of people your own age and industry. Happn tracks people who you’ve walked past before being able to ‘like’ them and await their response. Perfect for you’re too much of a wuss to say hi to the fitty at your local Costa.
One of those ‘in case of a rainy day’ apps; in London you can get most places by bus no matter what time of day. But every now and then you just can’t face it, so holler the Uber! As you keep your wits about your (as it’s still a car in a stranger) then it’s a godsend when you’re wet and miserable and just want your leftover Chinese calling from your fridge?
Then you’re here! All I can say it have fun, say yes to everything and try and have downtime. You will have days of stressful cancelled trains, stupid tourists and hating that you’re paying more for a room than your mates down south are for a house.
But you will also be in the hub of one of the best cities in the world, meeting all kinds of amazing people, seeing weird and quirky things and will be the best time of your life in your twenties. Honest.