Where to Stay When You Move to London to Live

by | Last updated Feb 18, 2023 | Live - Accommodation, Live Work Play Travel, London and UK Live Work and Play

So you are moving to London to live and work. Well you will need accommodation for your initial stay before finding somewhere more permanent to live. You are spoilt for choice with the short-term accommodation available ranging from hostels, B&Bs (bed-and-breakfast), small family-run hotels, guesthouses to expensive hotels seen on the ‘Monopoly Game Board’. And short-term accommodation is relatively easy to find for your initial stay in London, but it gets trickier finding somewhere long-term to live. But it doesn’t have to be with help from this post. Without further ado, here are your accommodation options, both short and long-term, budget friendly to splurge of where to stay when you move to London to live.

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Are You Moving to Live Abroad in London?


If you are booking your accommodation in London, I have you covered. Below are some of the top accommodation options for when you move to London.

Top Hostels in London

  1. YHA London Central
  2. Generator London
  3. Wombat’s City Hostel London

Top Hotels in London

Budget – Royal National Hotel (Great for those doing a Contiki Tour)
Mid Range – Alexandra Hotel
Splurge –
The Ritz London

Top Short-Stay Serviced Apartments

Cromwell Serviced Apartments

 

Short-term London Accommodation

 

London has plenty of short-term accommodation available. It ranges in price from budget hostels to expensive five star hotels with everything else in between. And is located all throughout London, from the inner city suburbs to the outskirts of Greater London. Unless you have family or a friend able to offer you accommodation for your initial stay, you will need to book yourself some London Accommodation.

 

Where to Stay When You First Move to London

 

When people first move to London on a UK working holiday visa, work permit or other visa they will book accommodation close to the centre of London. This is a good idea as it then allows you to do the things you need to do when you move to another country.

 

Length of Time to Book Accommodation in London for Your Initial Stay

 

When you first move to London, not just for a holiday, but to live, I highly suggest your pre-book your accommodation definitely for one week, but preferably for two. I suggest two weeks because this length of time will give you the chance to do a number of things. Recover from jet lag, gain your bearings, do some London sightseeing and get things done you need to do when you move abroad to live in the UK. Like getting a NIN, opening a bank account and purchasing a new phone.

 

Short-term London Accommodation Options

The Ritz sign outside the Ritz Hotel London.

The Ritz Hotel could be a short-term accommodation option when you move to London

 

As mentioned, London has plenty of short-term accommodation available for your initial stay in London. Here are the options:

 

1. Hostels

 

One of the cheapest short-term accommodation options when you first move to London is in a hostel. Accommodation in hostels is mostly dormitory-style where you may have 4, 6, 8 or maybe more beds in one room. Some hostels have a small number of private rooms for solo travellers, couples and families. Hostels in London and the UK offer lots of other services besides cheap accommodation. They can provide free Wifi, breakfast or access to a kitchen to cook your own meals, a cafe or bar on premises, 24 hour reception and a travel desk to book day tours. If you have come to London solo, hostels are also a great place to meet other travellers moving to London. You just may meet someone who you could share a flat with! Some of my favourite London hostels that I have stayed in are:

When I first moved to London on my working holiday I stayed at YHA London Central. I’ve also stayed at Generator London and Wombat’s Central London Hostel. For more London hostel options check out HostelWorld.

 

2. Hotels & B&Bs

 

If staying in a hostel isn’t your style, don’t worry, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs available. Glossy accommodation brochures only scratch the surface of London properties available. Some things to look out for when choosing your London or UK accommodation is having breakfast included, maybe a pick up from the airport or the possibility to share a room. Location is also something to consider and when you first arrive in London. I would suggest staying in the city because it is close to everything. Hotels I have stayed in and can recommend include:

Budget – Royal National Hotel
Mid Range – Alexandra Hotel
Splurge –
The Ritz Hotel (I haven’t actually stayed here, but have experienced their High Tea)

For more hotel options to stay in when you first arrive in London check out Booking.com here.

 

3. Short-term Serviced London Apartments

 

For your initial stay in London, you may want something more than a hostel bed or hotel room. This is where a serviced apartment comes in. An apartment will have a kitchen, bathroom and living area. Having access to a kitchen will mean you can cook many of your own meals rather than going out all the time, thus saving you plenty of pounds. You can find a serviced apartment by doing an internet search, though I have heard good things about the Cromwell Apartments.

 

How to Find Short-term Accommodation in London

 

Finding short-term accommodation when you are moving to London is quite easy. Visit the websites of HostelWorld and Booking.com and search for what suits you.

 



Booking.com

Long-term London Accommodation

Row of House in London are a great place to stay when moving to London to live.

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

  • Public transport – how many public transport options are there. Is the property close to a train, tube or bus stop.
  • Check what travel zone the accommodation lies in as travelling costs are a big consideration. The further out you are the cheaper your rent might be but you will have higher travel expenses and longer travel time to get to and from work.
  • Have a look at what services are available to you. Is there grocery stores nearby, carrying groceries a long way can be a nightmare. Also eateries, coffee shops, restaurants and laundrettes nearby.
  • Towns are found in boroughs. Earl’s Court, for instance, is situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Most accommodation is advertised by its post code of the borough. Post codes have two parts to them. The first half is the area where you live and the second half is the house/flat number. For instance SW5 OPA – SW5 is South-West 5 (or Earl’s Court). OP means the flat/house number in SW5. Check out the map following to see the areas.

What are the Best Areas to Live in London?

The best area to live in London will depend on you and why you have come to London including:

  • Where you might be working. You might be working in the centre of the city and want to live close.
  • You want to be near the nightlife.
  • Do you want to meet other travellers in a share house? Or live on your own and are happy to live further away from the centre of London.

 

Map of London Boroughs to help you choose where to live when you move to London to live.

South-West London areas

 

The south-west areas are divided by the Thames and are either north or south of the river. Many find flats north of the river in suburbs like Earl’s Court, Gloucester Road, West Kensington and Baron’s Court. These places are close to the city for work, are serviced by Tubes and buses and have loads of shops. 

Earl’s Court is synonymous with Australasian working holiday travellers and in the 1980s it was alao the mecca for the gay scene. Suburbs such as South Kensington, Belgravia, Sloane Square, Knightsbridge and Chelsea are prestigious areas in which to live. The area alone means you will pay extra for the privilege of living there. 

Many working holiday makers to London move further out of the city to popular areas like Putney, Wimbledon and Richmond. Several employment agencies are also located in the Wimbledon and Richmond areas, which are well serviced by the Tube, trains and buses. Brixton is a popular area to the south of the Thames as are Battersea, Greenwich, Clapham, Streatham, Tooting, Wandsworth and Croydon as they offer many restaurants and amenities plus have good transport options available.

 

West London areas

 

Many live around the hip and trendy Paddington, Bayswater, Queensway and Notting Hill Gate areas in rented accommodation. They are well serviced by the Tube and buses and Queensway has a large variety of shops, including the Whiteley Centre. Travellers have also moved out to Shepherd’s Bush, Hammersmith, Acton and Ealing as accommodation is cheaper. These are the suburbs that many Kiwis and Aussies live in in London.

 

East London areas

 

The east offers some of the lowest rents in London, which is good news, but some of the poorest areas of London are in this area as well. Some places have loft and warehouse developments available due to their industrial history especially around Mile End, Bow and Shoreditch, all of which were notorious areas for crooks such as the Kray Brothers in the 1960s. Gay pubs were first established in the East End of London so this area is good if you want a gay social life. Hackney is known as the lesbian capital and is popular with travellers due to the low rents.

The Docklands area has undergone a facelift and a lot of people have moved in. There are some lovely rooms with views of the Thames. The area is well serviced by transport and is in easy reach of the city centre for work purposes.

 

North London areas

 

Popular areas to set up house in north London include in and around Camden, where the markets are situated. The area is quite an artistic colony with many writers, painters, musicians, etc., living there. It has some good clubs and pubs and loads of eateries. It is also served by the Tube and buses.

Other areas include Highbury, Islington and King’s Cross. All three areas are serviced by the Tube and buses. Hampstead Heath is also a popular area as it is hilly and green and offers home-style accommodation. As with the areas around Chelsea, this area is home to the wealthy and you will need a few pounds yourself if you want to live here.

 

Get Ready for Interviews When Looking For Long-term London Accommodation

 

There is a lot of competition for decent rooms in flat and house shares, so be prepared to be interviewed. People in the flat will want to make sure you are compatible to live with and you, of course, will want to check the same. The interview can be quite daunting for people who have never flatted (shared a flat) before. Questions you should ask include:

• How much are the bills and how are they worked out?
• Do you buy your own food or is there a central kitty everyone contributes to?
• Do you cook your own food or prepare meals together?
• Are there particular times for the bathroom?
• How much hot water is available? Is there enough for everyone to have a shower/bath
in the morning?
• Is there a washing machine or how close is the nearest laundrette?
• Do you rent the TV and video?
• Is there a roster for chores or does everybody do their own share of housework?
• What is the policy on dossers (visitors)?

Setting up a Flat or House Yourself in London

 

Unpacking your clothes in your new digs after you have moved to London to Live.

You may consider setting up your own flat/house share. If this is the case, ensure you read the contract and know what you are up for. Have an inventory and utensils check list performed so you cannot be blamed for any breakages. You will need to contact the services, ie. Electricity, gas, water, etc. to connect and also if you want a TV apply for a licence. A standard colour tv license costs £145.50. Get one from . You may also want a telephone line but most use their mobile phones. Lastly, register for Council Tax with your local council to be registered for the Council Tax. This is a tax to cover Council services. It is wise to do this as one of the first things you do as the Council will chase you for the tax if you don’t pay it.

How to find long-term Accommodation in London

Once you know where you want to live, go there, pick up the local papers, look in newsagent windows, ask in real estate agencies and check out the evening paper (Evening Standard. Alternatively check out Facebook pages/groups such as Aussies in London, Americans in London, etc. where accommodation can be advertised. Or start your search online. Here are some places to start.

Spareroom
Gayflatshare
Gumtree
Loot
Residentialland
Rightmove
Zoopla

 

Living in the UK

 

There is plenty of short-term accommodation throughout the UK. You will find hostels, B&Bs and hotels just about everywhere. The principles of finding long-term accommodation are the same in the rest of the UK as they are in London.

 

Final Words on Where to Stay When You Move to London to Live

 

Living in London and the UK is a wonderful experience and made even more wonderful by having accommodation that is clean, comfortable and suits your needs. I hope you have found this overview of short-term and long-term London and UK accommodation helpful. And you have found the perfect place for when you move to London to Live. I would love to hear about your accommodation experiences in the comments following.

 

Where to Stay When Moving to London to Live PIN.

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Sharyn McCullum Sailing Through The Panama Canal With Storm Chasing Boat.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to get the live work play travel lifestyle with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.

19 Comments

  1. Carly

    I agree that living somewhere with great transportation connections is essential, especially in a city as big as London!

    Reply
  2. Kim

    I always stay in the youth hostels in London. They are central to all the great things to see and do and easy walks to The Tube stations.

    Reply
  3. Caitlin

    Staying at the Ritz for a short term rental would be a dream! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. kmf

    This is a great guide on where to stay if you’re planning to move to London. Also great recommendations if you’re planning an extended stay.

    Reply
  5. Yvonne

    I would love to live in London for a bit. It would be such a change from my desert home. Great tips in this article, very helpful!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Record

    Great advice! It is start to explore a lot of areas first to see what fits best with your lifestyle before committing to a specific spot.

    Reply
  7. kmf

    This post is so helpful on where to stay when you are moving to London to live. I would love to summer in London or the The Cotswolds. Great tips if/when I make that a reality.

    Reply
  8. Kelly

    Great advice! Loved how in-depth this guide is for planning a move to London! Thanks for sharing all your helpful recommendations.

    Reply
  9. Hannah

    Great tips, especially the interview questions!

    Reply
  10. Gladis Morales

    I like how insightful your article is about choosing the perfect place to stay when relocating to London. It covers essential factors such as location, budget, and local amenities, making it a practical and helpful guide for anyone making the big move. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes. You need to find the best place to live in London as you don’t want, or need, to keep on moving. Considering location, budget and local amenities are a good idea to help get your new home sorted.

      Reply
  11. simplyjolayne

    Great tips. My husband and I will be empty nesters this fall and I had the thought the other day, “I can live anywhere.” These are some great things to know.

    Reply
  12. Stephanie Seymore

    What an interesting article. So many options I had t thought of.

    Reply
  13. Jenn

    Such great information! I have a friend moving to London so I will be sending her this blog post!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Wonderful. Thank you for sending to your friend.

      Reply
  14. Anja

    Yeah, I was gonna stay at the Ritz for a university course in London, but lodging costs were too prohibitive. I managed to spend six weeks in Japan for about a third of the cost (non Ritz accommodation). London is just prohibitively expensive and for me has lost all attraction now its out of EU and prices go through the roof

    Reply
  15. Meggie

    I love how you had suggestions for neighborhoods in each sector of London. Now all I need to do is convince my husband to move!

    Reply

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