Home Search in London: the Basics

Hello! I created this post to share what we learned from our recent home search when  my husband (E) and I moved to London. Prior to our flight and this huge leap, E already did his research on the nice places to live in London, which borough (local authority district). I am grateful for my husband for looking into it as it made us more prepared for the home search. We are fortunate because E’s employer provided us with hotel accommodation for a couple of weeks. This gave us some time to visit some of our pre-selected properties.

I will not go through each step of the process nor divulge a lot of specific information for security reasons. What I’ll talk about are the basics such as costs, where and how to look for a property and other important details to consider.

#1 – Find platforms on the internet where property letting and selling are being advertised and create an account.

Home Search Logo

There are a lot of options to choose from. Among the most popular ones are Rightmove and Zoopla. These two are also accessible through their mobile applications (Apple Store or Google Play) so they let you browse anytime and anywhere. The website THE GUARDIAN, also shared options aside from Rightmove and Zoopla. Check them out HERE.

#2 – Renting a property in London could be (and it is) very expensive, depending on the zones. The closer you are to Central London, the higher the rates become.

#3 – Aside from the monthly rent, there are other costs that you must set aside your money for. These are applicable to those who would conduct their home search with the help of an agency.

  1. Administration Fee – This is a one-time payment that will be charged to you by the agency.  Take note that the cost is usually PER PERSON, so if the fee is £100 per person, and three (3) persons will stay in the property, you will be required to pay £300.
  2. Referencing Fee/Credit CheckLetting agencies tap third-party agencies to conduct a background check on interested tenants. They usually ask for copies of your identification cards, passport and visa, proof of employment, your former address and bank statements.
  3. Holding Deposit This is like a reservation fee but not refundable. This will be deducted from your first month’s rent.
  4. Dilapidation Deposit – Once your offer has been approved, this fee would be required from the tenant and will be deposited at the Deposit and Protection Scheme. This serves as the protection of the landlord from the cost of the damages that the tenant could cause the property.
  5. 1-2 Months’ Rent paid in Advance – As per usual

What is the advantage of liaising with a lettings agent? As a tenant, it could protect you from being scammed, like paying for a property that doesn’t even exist in the first place. On our case, the agreement was properly documented.

#4 – Ask about the monthly dues.

You may have already decided on the cost of your monthly rent and came to terms with the reservation costs. However, there are a lot of items to consider as well. Listed below are other expenses that each household will most likely have to pay on a monthly or quarterly basis. Feel free to ask your landlord or the lettings agent about the historical bills of the property to get a range of how much you would likely pay per month.

  • Electricity – Talk to the energy supplier about the tariff that would work best for you. If need be, change your energy supplier if it would be more practical for you.
  • Gas – This most likely covers what you use for cooking (stove and oven). Ask your landlord or lettings agent if the heating is gas or electric. Do your research which one costs cheaper. As far as I know, gas heating would cost you less than electric.
  • Water – Ask your landlord which company supplies water in your area. Moreover, check if you will be billed with a fixed cost OR if it will be based on a metre reading.
  • Council Tax – This funds local services such as Education, Fire and Police Services, Roads, Libraries, Rubbish collection and Planning. And yes, the tenants pay for it when you are in a contract for at least six (6) months. Read more about it HERE.


Considering all these factors (+ transportation cost to and from work), you can then decide if the total cost per month is within your working budget. 🙂 Hope these helps!

Please leave a comment if you have questions and clarifications. We are definitely not subject matter experts on this, but maybe we can help based on what we learned from personal experience. Moreover, if you are already a tenant yourself, please feel free to share your tips and experience. 🙂


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