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The quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom varies widely. While expats may struggle to find spacious, high-quality accommodation that doesn't break the bank in notoriously expensive London, there are many areas of the UK where it's much easier to find appropriate housing at a decent price.
Types of accommodation in the United Kingdom
Accommodation in the UK is generally in the form of houses – whether freestanding or as rowhouses – and apartments (known as flats). All these types of housing are widespread throughout the UK, with flats dominating in the more urban areas.
House-sharing (renting an individual room in a larger house shared by others) is another popular option among single expats in the United Kingdom – and is an avenue usually pursued out of financial necessity. Still, for young expats this can be a great way to meet new people.
Finding accommodation in the United Kingdom
Finding a place to rent in the UK is a straightforward process, but it can be made more difficult by the speed at which the market moves. Expats should be prepared to move quickly when they see a place they like, as the competition for good-value rentals can be cut-throat.
As far as finding a place to rent goes, expats have a number of options. Local newspapers and magazines carry private listings and tenants will be able to call the owner or landlord directly to arrange a viewing, while websites and internet property portals also regularly publish rental adverts – these are especially good for house-sharing options (use 'room to rent' as a search term). And, of course, real-estate agents are a dependable source of information and help when it comes to looking for a place to rent, but they charge for their services.
Renting accommodation in the UK
Renting accommodation in the UK is a fairly straightforward process. Lease agreements are generally signed on a six-month or one-year basis, with an option to renew should the tenant desire to do so.
A six-month break clause can be negotiated for 12-month leases, allowing the tenant to back out of the full term with 30 or 60 days notice. Expats must be wary of this clause as it cuts both ways – and since rental prices are attached to market prices in the UK, an unscrupulous landlord might look to break the rental agreement early should these fluctuate and charge new tenants a higher monthly fee.
Note that expats will also be required to provide four to six weeks' rent as a deposit to secure a rental agreement. Tenants will also likely be liable for their own gas, electricity, water, phone, internet and council tax bills while renting in the UK.