Finding somewhere to live can be an arduous task – hours traipsing around smelly squats trying to find a castle could be better spent down the pub. But it doesn’t need to be that difficult.
The first thing to suss out is where you want to live. Do you want non-stop nightlife, or would you rather be able to sleep at night?
Start by making a checklist of all the things that are important to you, such as location and how close you need to be to the Tube or work, then decide on whether you want to rent a room or find a flatshare (and what type of people you want to live with).
The next step is easy – get searching. James Davis, of lettings agent upad.co.uk, says: “When searching online, always look for listings that have photos: if they don’t, then they may be hiding something – leading to a disappointing viewing.
“Look at what similar rooms are going for – by doing this you can ensure you make the right choice and get value-for-money.”
He adds if you see a room you like, act immediately: “Demand is very high at the moment, with stiff competition from other prospective tenants. Get in there first.”
To open up your options, buddy up and look for like-minded renters and full properties rather than just a room.
Lastly, Davis advises: “If you want to find out more about a room, call to enquire. This shows you are much more keen and active, than if you were to just send an email.”
Here’s our pick of the best sites to find rooms and flatshares in London. To be on the safe side, always view with a friend, and don’t hand over any cash without a contract.
What: This site makes room-hunting easy. Search for a specific area in London or by Tube zones to ensure you’re close to where you need to be.
You can also decide whether you want to look for a room on your own or a buddy up – placing an ad reaching more than 400,000 users for the type of property you’re after, with the option to team up with other room seekers.
At this point, and also when you’re searching the room and flat adverts, you can specify exactly what you want – from the age of your fellow housesharers and their interests, to gardens and broadband.
It currently has 12,000 rooms available in London. Contact the landlords via the site or by phone.
Cost: Register to place an advert, but it’s free to use with options to upgrade for ‘early bird’ notifications from £9.49 for seven days.
What: When we log on, more than 2000 new flatmates and rooms had been added to the site in the past 24 hours.
Searching ‘I need a room’ in London produces 3778 options, which we whittle down by adding details such as our maximum rent, moving date and duration we want to be in the property for.
Users can then specify what type of flatmates they want – age, occupation, gender – add a few details about themselves, then register to produce the final results. There are options to contact these via the site or by phone.
Cost: No charge.
What: There are more than 33,192 rooms and flatshares available in London currently on the site. Even though you can search by date added, it’s difficult to vouch for whether the rooms or flats are still available, so it could mean a lot of legwork.
We make two calls to landlords who say the property advertised have already been taken, but they do add that they have similar rooms available.
Tweak your search terms by room, property and seller (agency/ private) type as well as price range and ads with images.
Cost: Free to search.
What: This puts the fun into finding a flatmate. Following a speed-dating format, you can mingle with up to 100 likeminded people who are also searching for flatmates, or landlords.
Last year, 11,000 people attended the events (pictured). After you’ve decided where you want to live, register on the site for the event that’s held in that area.
When you turn up, fill out a name badge with where you’re looking to rent and how much you want to spend, then wander around finding other home-hunters you can team up with.
Alan Bonvouloir, 28, who was looking for a place near Fulham, said: “It’s a great way to socialise and see if you get along with that person, because you have to live with them.”