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Housing in United Kingdom

Rental Market

Britain’s rental market is much smaller in size when compared to continental Europe, with only 10% of families living in private rented accommodation.

Depending on where you are looking, good quality and larger rental properties can often be difficult to find and prohibitively expensive. Furnished or partly-furnished flats rented for short periods can be especially pricey.

Rental prices in different regions of the United Kingdom vary widely. Properties in London and the South-East England command the highest rents. In general rents are lower in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the north of England, but there are exceptions in larger cities. As rents tend to decrease the further you are from a city centre, it is worth deciding to what extent you are willing to commute to work. Many people who work in the centre of London spend well over an hour travelling to and from work.

Finding a good apartment at the right price before you arrive in the UK is difficult. Landlords prefer to meet tenants before signing a contract and the wide range in quality means it is not advisable to commit to rent a flat “unseen”.

Supply and demand can vary considerably in the course of the year, with the end of the summer being more difficult in some areas as students start a new year (in the UK students tend to go to university away from home, so rent).

Getting Started

Looking for accommodation in the UK can be a time-consuming and nerve-wracking experience. Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time as you will be much more likely to get what you are looking for this way.

It's best to start looking before you leave or plan for free time to be dedicated to the search. If you are coming with your family, it may be more comfortable for them to arrive after you have found suitable accommodation. If you are arriving alone, the best solution may be to initially stay in a hotel/guest-house or with friends or acquaintances.

Unless you want to depend on getting lucky, you should consider several options for your apartment search. The most important thing is to have a very clear idea of what you're actually looking for, or it is very easy to waste time. The best start is to get familiar with your new environment by walking around, seeing how transport works and asking other people about different neighbourhoods and areas.

On arrival in the UK, you may find it necessary to stay in temporary accommodation for a few weeks or a month or two until you can move into an apartment. Many hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments cater for long-term guests and offer reduced weekly or monthly rates.

There is a wide range of options when looking for an apartment. As always in life, the more you're willing to pay (i.e. for an agent), the easier your search will be.


You can find advertisements for apartments to rent and buy in local newspapers and from many online sources. Look for the ‘classifieds’ section, where there should be a section on property.

In London, the Evening Standard has some property adverts every day; on Wednesdays the paper comes with a free Homes & Property supplement which is more extensive. London also has specialized publications dedicated to advertisements, such as Loot, which is printed 5 times weekly and is also available online

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