Below are recommendations I have either done myself, or seriously thought about. I hear you that for people on low budgets, getting any savings together is a tough one and it’s made me a bit glum at points (even in spite of living in the amazing city that is London). But I took the glum and got researching for options! These are what I came up with as viable possibilities, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned or first hand experienced with you.
- Obviously you can do the usual- consider spare room.co.uk for house shares, ask friends/colleagues re. spare rooms as private rooms can often be negotiated/cheaper. It’s still possible to find bargains!
- Are you a student? When I was a student not too long ago, I was a “halls ambassador” for 2 years. Posh title eh! I essentially lived in student accommodation (in Elephant and Castle, 20 mins walk to the Southbank) and assisted students when they got locked out of their rooms (after a night out more often than not), gave out post, helped out with health and safety checks. It was generally a breeze to be honest. Yes sometimes it was a bit of a nuisance being woken at 3am, especially if I was on placement but I LOVED my time here, rent free and in the middle of London! If you’re a student and this appeals- get asking your university about it!
- Are you prepared to live with an elderly person? In exchange for around 10 hours of your time a week (this might be chores, companionship or shopping) perhaps you could consider “home sharing”, a concept that has become very popular over recent years. It enables the younger generation to save, and the older generation often to remain in their own homes and feeling extra secure knowing someone else is sleeping in the property. I can absolutely promise you that if I was single I would be doing this right now in order to get savings together. You are expected to pay most agencies around £180 a month to cover bills/admin fees, meaning if an average bedroom price in London is £600 per calendar month, you would be saving £400 a month which is almost £5,000 a year on rent alone. Just vet carefully: I was aware I wouldn’t want to take on living with someone with no friends or family, who might become a bit too needy and dependent on you. There has to be a good balance. I can’t personally vouch for these agencies, but take a look at http://www.shareandcare.co.uk or https://homeshareuk.org/ for ideas. I have seen really fab opportunities come up in London where you’d be living on a houseboat for example or in zone 1. Yes you’d be giving up some of your independence but if you saw it as a short term project, it could really help your savings massively as well as you feeling great you’re helping someone else retain their independence in their own home.
- Become a property guardian. You get to save money and live in interesting places! Again, I can’t personally vouch for these companies but they’ve certainly existed a few years now and again, I’ve definitely looked seriously at them in the past when deciding where to live: https://www.global-guardians.co.uk/ or http://www.liveinguardians.com/ and https://dotdotdotproperty.com and https://www.propertyguardians.com – all of which look totally exciting and offer properties throughout London and the UK.
- Are you a keyworker? Then you need to be aware of key trusts such as Peabody which will offer you cheaper rents (https://www.peabody.org.uk/find-a-home/key-workers-regency/about-the-scheme) I chat to a lot of people who are therapists, nurses, social workers, who don’t seem to be aware of their keyworker status! Certain boroughs I have noticed, like Islington, will also offer schemes on their websites for people who are keyworkers in their boroughs. If you happen to work for a council, get asking! You never know.
- This might not be that consistent but if you are needing somewhere to stay just short term, might you consider being a house sitter or pet sitter whilst someone is away? Could be a few days to a few months if you were lucky, in awesome places, with awesome pets if you were looking for that! Check out https://www.housesittersuk.co.uk and http://www.trustedhousesitters.com to explore options.
- Do you work for a hospital? A friend of mine who works for Guys and St Thomas’ trust pays around £400 a month, all bills included, for a bedroom in a flat share with 2 other people. She lives opposite Big Ben and has no travel costs to work- amazing! Most London hospitals, if not all, will have their own accommodation available to staff (and if coming from abroad you are normally prioritised).
I really hope this is useful and gives you some creative ideas/alternative solutionsto think about for cheaper options with housing, focusing on London but also being relevant to other areas in the UK. I’d also really love to know if you have ever tried any of the websites mentioned above, and how you got on! Be great to know if any of you have ever done homesharing or tried the property guardianships schemes, as these were things I was really interested in pursing at one time.
Thanks so much for reading. Hope you find your ideal home, and at a great price! x