Living in London: tips and advice

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Accommodation in London

Learn more about living in London

A definitive guide to find accommodation, as told by locals

Last updated: May 2022

How to rent a place in London

The city may have a reputation for excessive pricing, but we can most definitely help you find housing that will fit your budget in London. But first, keep in mind that you should start your search at least two months in advance, as the demand for housing in London is always very high.

The great thing about London is that, due to its many different neighborhoods with unique offerings, it’s easy to find housing for any taste. Plus, there are areas with a high concentration of students as inhabitants. If you label yourself as hipster you are in luck, and if you love to spend your time on Instagram, West London will provide you with plenty of entertainment to really grab those followers.

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Hey there! My name is Athena, and I am about to provide you with some of the best tips on everything London! While I was born in London, I was not actually raised there. Yet, I couldn’t keep myself from coming back to study in the most exciting city in the world.

While you can find excellent housing anywhere in London, there are a few neighborhoods that really offer budget-friendly accommodations. Or if you want to live lavishly during your stay in London, that can definitely be arranged as well.

There is so much to see and do while you are in London, but never fear! I know just about all of the little hidden treasures that London really can offer, and hopefully you will leave having truly experienced the fun and excitement of London’s 48 unique neighborhoods. As a proud Londoner, I just can’t wait to help you take a peek into the typical London lifestyle and dive deep into the wonderful English culture. Plus, I bet we’ll even have some time to help you find the perfect neighborhood to find housing for your extended stay in my fascinating city!

Living in London and its neighbourhoods

Experience the Extraordinary

Experience the Extraordinary

Experience the extraordinary

London is full of secret gems and hidden finds. It seems as if almost every area in London is completely unique, as if it is almost its own city within a city. If you’re hanging out in Shoreditch, expect to see plenty of beards; for Camden, you’ll see the goths and the punks. Decide whether you want to reside east, west, north or south of the capital, and then begin to really explore the neighborhoods like a real world traveler would do.

Be sure to really think about the amenities that you’d like and how long of a commute you are prepared to make. Even though you are in a large, modern city, expect a village-type atmosphere in Notting Hill or Bricket Wood, where you can always find adorable little cafes and markets. You can also enjoy some of the best vintage shopping on the planet, set to the beat of local street performers.

Now, if you’re looking for the London that you see on the postcards, you should head straight to West London. Leicester Square, Big Ben, Westminster, the London Eye, Hyde Park and of course the Sherlock Holmes Museum draw in millions of visitors every year, just thirsty for the culture that London is proud to host.

Understanding the London lifestyle

Understanding the London lifestyle

You’ll be a Londoner in no time!

The London lifestyle can be very fast-paced, so be sure to put on your virtual running shoes! Many say that life is something like a marathon, so London must be a full-on sprint. As a Londoner, you will definitely get a feel for what it’s like to live life in the fast lane. Head off to work, grab some drinks with friends, go to the latest art opening and STILL find time to have a day at the park. London is also a great place to just chill out, even if it’s from the comfort of your room, set for the weekend with pizza and Netflix.

Although London is known to be expensive, it can be done on a budget. However, you have to plan your journey ahead and choose your neighborhood wisely. London is very proud of its green spaces, so expect the parks to be magnificent. Therefore, you can always plan on spending a free afternoon to take a stroll or relax with a picnic, surrounded by the beauty that London’s parks are known for.

When it comes to the foodie in all of us, London boasts just about every type of restaurant and bar, with exciting new pop-ups appearing on what seems like a daily basis. There’s also an amazing selection of food markets. Would you like an Indian lunch, dinner from a Japanese food truck and a cocktail-and-dessert bar as the grand finale? London is proud to offers all of these options and more. Shoreditch and Soho have some of the best eateries on all of London, but you can find tasty places to eat all over the city, even when you’re on a budget.

London’s winning transportation

Getting around, no matter your budget

London truly has phenomenal transportation.You can find a tube stop at pretty much every corner, and you will never have to make more than one change to arrive where you’re going. And beginning in 2017, the night tube also opened.

The famous double-decker red bus is also one of the best ways to get around town and actually see London. The bus follows just about the same path as the tube lines, but it is also a slightly cheaper option at only £1.50, compared to £2.40 for the tube.

London also offers the Overground and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to make some of the outer areas much more accessible for its inhabitants and visitors alike.

If you’re up for it, cycling is also very popular in London. There are even groups that cycle different areas, which is perfect for familiarizing oneself with the city.

Finally, it’s hard to miss the black cabs that zoom about the city. You’ve seen them on TV and in the movies, and now you have the chance to ride in them! While they may be a bit expensive, a cabbie is the obvious person to ask for recommendations for lunch, the best street market or what’s showing in the West End.

As a student, you are also eligible to get London’s transport card, the Oyster, at a monthly discounted rate. If you’re working in London, it doesn’t hurt to check with your employer to see if they may reimburse for transportation.

Learning more about the British culture

Fitting in with the locals

The English people are very attached to their ways, and there may be a lot of culture steeped in tradition. However, you will quickly find that most Londoners can be low-key, ready to relax with family and friends. After the work day is over, you will see the people of London gathering in local pubs for a pint or relaxing the new wine bar.

Music provides a steady beat as London’s backdrop, and you can expect all sorts of styles. The O2 arena has hosted some of the most well-known artists in the world, and you can even find some big acts occasionally playing at a record store. How great is that when you’re on a budget?

West London

Opulence at its best

When you think of West London, think of sophistication. Mayfair plays home to wine bars and trendy clubs. Its restaurants are perfect for decadent dinners, its buildings are immaculate, and its people are well-dressed and educated. This makes Mayfair an impressive place to reside. It is bordered by Hyde Park and the West End.

Covent Garden and the Strand - London's Theatre District

Performing arts on your doorstep

With about 44 million visitors a year, the area can get a little full of tourists, but it is also steeped in rich history. Beautifully restored buildings show London’s success at recycling in its urban areas, including shops, a small arts and crafts market and a former flower market that is now used for the London Transport Museum.

In the main square, you can catch your fair share of living statues, magicians and even singers from the Royal Opera House. London's Theatre District begins over by Covent Garden, and it reaches all the way over to Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

East London

Stay away from the mainstream

The area of East London is one of my absolute favorites. Famous for its curry houses over on Brick Lane and known for being the birthplace of Banksy, the renowned graffiti artist, the East End has really been developed over the years. While Brick Lane is very popular, it may be the only place that you’ll find tourists in London. If an escape from tour buses is what you’re after, you may have found your new home. If you’re into shopping vintage and searching for rare finds, you’ll find vinyls, furniture and the perfect new T-shirt to wear to the latest house party. Art is also truly alive in East London, so keep your eyes open for the next up-and-coming new artist!

Notting Hill

Where antiquities meet fashion

If you’re looking for cobblestone streets, tiny alleys and antiquing like you’ve only dreamed about, Notting Hill is the place to be! Boasting the famed Portobello Road Market, you can see why this area ends up quite frequently on the silver screen.

While this is a laid-back locale, its inhabitants know how to have a fantastic time. If you’re ready to dance the night away, you can find plenty of options in Notting Hill.

If you’re hungry, the Electric Diner is open 24-7, so it’s perfect for a stop before the market or after a night of learning the latest dance moves. It specializes in Franco-American food, with a wonderful drink menu. Don’t miss it!

North / Camden

London’s cultural melting pot

From the moment you arrive on the tube, you can hear and smell Camden from the top of the station stairs. Camden is a virtual attack on each one of the senses. You’ll hear the loud music, smell the food from street vendors and see the goths and the punks, dressed to impress.

Camden is truly one of the greatest melting pots in the city, and maybe even in the country. You can have a meal for a fiver or see a killer band in a local pub. The choices are all yours!

Camden is also the fourth largest tourist attraction in all of the city, so be sure to expect hard-to-find posters, band T-shirts and personalized Doc Marten boots. If you see the long queue, it’s probably for the Electric Ballroom, welcoming in some of the coolest musical acts to hit any stage in London. It’s pretty easy to see why Camden is such an exhilarating place to live!

Camden Lock Market is a large arts and crafts area, with well over 150,000 visitors a week. You can find some of the best works from the area’s most brilliant artists, with some perfectly priced for those budget-conscious buyers. Plus, this building has a history, as it was once a Victorian-era hospital for injured horses called the Stables Market. It is now a shopping mecca, with plenty of unusual items and antiques.

When you are exhausted from a long day of shopping, be sure to visit the At Proud Bar. You can relax on the sunny terrace or have a drink inside its cozy atmosphere.


A blend of the historic and the modern

People just love Soho, as it is a mix of what made London glorious in the past and what makes it a celebrated city in the present.. Soho’s old red-light haunts and hangouts for the literary beatniks are now all-night coffee shops, hip public houses and wonderfully eclectic shopping venues. The welcoming archway situated just off Carnaby Street can sometimes be missed, but it leads to Kingly Court, so be sure to head there. Kingly Court offers open-air shopping options, set off by a cozy terrace. There are even unique and often eccentric shops, along with trendy restaurants and even a yoga studio. Be sure to dine at Pilgrims Pizza, offering plenty of fresh, tasty toppings on a variety of crusts.