Living in London

Your accommodation options

The accommodation available throughout the UK is diverse and ranges from hostels to small, cheap family-run hotels to B&Bs and even castles are throwing open their doors. And London accommodation is no different.

If you are one of the lucky ones who has a bed or even a floor to sleep on when you arrive, you’re off to a very good start; finding somewhere to live can be one of the most daunting tasks you will ever have to tackle while on a working holiday.

Short-term London accommodation

For your arrival I recommend booking for at least 2 weeks because by the time you have recovered from jet lag, done some sightseeing,  looked for somewhere to live and a job and got your bearings this time will almost be up.


One of the cheapest and easiest options is to stay in a hostel. Accommodation is mostly dormitory-style where you may have 4, 6, 8 or more beds in one room. Some offer double, twin and family rooms. A hostel can help you to familiarise yourself with London and it is a place where you may make friends with like-minded travellers. I would recommend you book in advance to ensure you have a spot for your arrival. Check out the options on Hostel World.


B&Bs and Hotels

Bed & Breakfasts and hotels can vary greatly in their size, comfort and price but if a hostel isn’t your style then consider this option. Once again, I would book for at least 2 weeks. Check out the options on Hotels Combined.


Long-term London accommodation

Looking for long-term accommodation in London can be a full-time occupation. Before you start to look, you need a rough idea about the area you would like to live in and what it has to offer. Before you sign on the dotted line, throw in to the equation:

  • how far is the accommodation from public transport. You don’t want a long walk each day to the train, tube or bus stop.
  • Check what travel zone the accommodation is in. The further out the cheaper your rent might be but you will have higher travel expenses and longer travel time to get in to the city and maybe to your work.
  • Have a look at what services are available. Without a car, having a supermarket, laundrette, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and pubs nearby are great.

When you are arranging to view possible residences try and see all those located in a particular area in one trip, otherwise you will find yourself traipsing from one side of town to the other. This can be very time consuming and it just makes my feet ache thinking about it. When flats and houses are advertised for rent the post code is often used to indicate the location. There are many roads with the same name (Princes Road, for instance, is in N18, SE20, SW14 and also W13) so it is imperative you know in which area your place is located.


Most long-term accommodation will be located in bedsits, flats or houses, usually with landlords and real estate agents requiring four to six weeks deposit (bond) and one month’s rent in advance before you move in. For example, a two-bedroom flat at £200 per week could cost £1600-£2,000 to move into.

A guide to the various areas to live, including Aussie and Kiwi enclaves can be found in our ebook LiveWork&Play in London & the UK.

Flat and house sharing

Renting a flat or house from scratch can be expensive and distressing. Once you have found a place you are responsible for a hefty deposit, connecting the utilities, council tax and organising a TV licence. An attractive accommodation option is for travellers to move into an established flat or house share as all the annoying bureaucratic stuff has already been done.

There is a lot of competition for decent rooms in flat and house shares, so be prepared for an interview.

Some accommodation ads specify room shares. This means the room has twin beds and you will probably be sharing with someone of the same sex unless you don’t mind sharing with the opposite sex; because this works out cheaper, it could allow you to live closer to the centre of the city. Maybe you wouldn’t consider sharing a room but living in London can mean surviving in London. When it comes to money you will want to save all your pounds for travelling so sharing a room has its advantages.

Sharing a flat can lead to a communal existence. If you have heard stories of 10 people living in a three-bedroom flat, believe it; rumours are true. Many travellers do this as it works out cheaper. You need to be easy-going to live like this because you won’t have much privacy, but the social life should be great.

Good places to start your search for accommodation are online and by picking up a newspaper when you arrive in London.

You will find extensive information on short and long-term accommodation in our ebook LiveWork&Play in London & the UK.