When moving to London you may be looking for a way to make your rent a little more affordable and many people choose to find someone to help them split the rent.
Finding a flatmate in London is a great way to avoid the often cramped studio flats offered to those moving to the city alone. By opting for a flatmate you can often find a more spacious flat or home in the ideal area for you. Plus, you’ll be able to save money on your monthly bills by sharing the load.
You’ll see the terms flatmate, housemate and roommate used interchangeably throughout this guide and you may wonder what the differences between the three are. Flatmates often refer to sharing a flat or an apartment whereas a housemate refers to sharing a house and roommate being interchangeable between the two.
Below, we’ll have a look at how you can find a flatmate in London and highlight all the smaller details you might want to consider before moving in with your roommate or roommates.
WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN LOOKING FOR A NEW FLATMATE
With any big decision, it’s important that you get clear about what it s you want and need in order to feel completely comfortable in your new home.
Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will make it a lot easier to find flatmates that you’ll not only get along with but also people that can help you settle into London life.
How many people do you want to live with?
Although living with multiple people can help spread the cost of the rent and utilities and make monthly outgoings a little cheaper, it can also come with its issues.
Before you start looking for a flatmate, decide how many people you’d enjoy living with. If you enjoy a more vibrant and social home life, then having a few flatmates could be ideal. However, if you want a calm and quiet home, then having 1-2 flatmates may be all you need.
Do you want to live with others of the same gender?
Some of the roommate finding tools we’ll talk about later on in this article will allow you to choose whether you look for roommates of a specific gender. Some people may feel more comfortable with those of the same or opposite genders so it’s worth thinking about how you feel sharing a space with the same or opposite genders and whether you’re happy to live in a mixed household.
Would you prefer people in the same profession or with the same interests?
Living with flatmates in London is fairly common so you’ll find a huge range of people looking for people to spread the cost of rent with. If you’re a student you may be looking for other students to share a home with. If you’re a young professional, you may prefer to live with others of a similar age or profession.
It can also help to find others that have similar interests and hobbies as you, so you can also meet new people and make new friends when you move to London. Some people may be just looking for someone to share the rent with, however, if you’re new to the city it could be helpful to have a close group of friends to help you explore your new home.
THE BEST TOOLS FOR FINDING A FLATMATE OR HOUSE SHARE
Luckily the internet is filled with websites and apps that can help you find the perfect flatmates for your move to London. We’ve listed a few of our favourites below, but it’s always worth testing them out for yourself and seeing what is on offer across all platforms.
One of the most popular sites out there, Spare Room can help you find housemates or flatmates across the country. This site is highly trusted by house hunters and all profiles are carefully moderated for your safety.
Spare Room also has handy tools for those looking in London, with options to search by commute time, travel zone and tube line. You can choose to search for established households looking for new roommates or create a new household with one of the many users looking for a flatmate.
Ideal Flatmate - much like Spare Room - can help you find a flatmate from anywhere across the UK, but its specialism is pairing those looking for a place to live within London.
This site covers a huge 660 areas within London and makes it super easy to search by boroughs by breaking the main areas into North, South, East, West and Central London.
As this site focuses on finding flatmates, it may come as no surprise that you’ll find the majority of these properties are flats. If you’re looking for house rentals, it may be worth checking out some of the other options.
Roomies is a little different to the previous two websites, as this only covers people searching for roommates. With Spare Room and Ideal Flatmate, you can search for rooms within households as well as whole properties for rent.
If you’re wanting to find someone to team up with to rent out a whole home together then Roomies is a great place to start. You’ll be able to read other house hunters' profiles, see their monthly budgets, get to know them and find out what kind of roommate they’re looking for.
Flatmate is a site where users can upload their spare rooms for rent and find potential flat or housemates looking for a room to rent in their area.
If you already know what area in London you’d like to live in, then this tool is ideal. You’ll be able to see all the rooms for rent in your chosen area using a large map and be able to easily compare weekly rental prices all on one screen.
An alternative to these flatmate finding tools is Facebook. There are many Facebook groups that can help you find others looking for roommates. There are plenty of groups that focus on the different areas of London, helping you narrow down your location.
One thing to be wary of with these Facebook groups is that the users posting are very rarely monitored or verified, so it can leave you to take a risk. It’s always advised that you meet up with anyone from these groups in a busy public space where you can get to know each other and see if you’re compatible before making any final financial commitments.
Although Rightmove is a popular house-hunting tool, it can also be used to find house shares. Often landlords will post their houseshares on the site, however, some will rent out on a first come first served basis, meaning you’ll have less say around who you live with.
If you don’t mind who you live with or you’ve already found your flatmate(s) and are looking for a house share together, then Rightmove could be helpful in your search.
Much like a cross between Rightmove and Facebook groups, Gumtree often has listings around rooms or houses and flats to rent. Although there’s not as much choice on Gumtree, you can set up search alerts based on your criteria so that you get notified when a flat share gets listed.
LOCATION CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
We’ve talked a lot about the many different areas within London and how drastically different they can all be. It’s this diversity that can make moving to London so exciting but also offer a number of options that can be hard to choose from.
When trying to find a flatmate in London location will be a big factor. Not only will you have to take commuting and work commitments into consideration, but each area caters to a different type of culture and community.
You may find that one part of London feels more like home than another, so it’s worth figuring out which area you want to call home before reaching out to potential flatmates.
London is packed full of vibrant characters and a multitude of cultures. Each borough has its own unique atmosphere so make sure you have at least visited or know a little about the area before you decide to call it home.
For example, if you’re looking to be part of the everyday buzz of the capital, then you may want to look as close to Central London as possible, opting for areas like SoHo or Covent Garden. If you’re a lover of all things vintage and Indy then Camden Town may appeal to you.
You’ll also find that certain age groups, professions and families gravitate towards specific areas. For example, you’ll find a lot more students in places like Brixton, Camden and Hammersmith compared to Angel or Bethnal Green, which is preferred by young professionals.
To help you narrow down which location could suit you best, take a look at ‘The Best Places to Live in London’.
Like any metropolis, there are vibrant busy areas and quieter, more relaxed areas. If you’re someone that likes to go out and socialise a lot, this may affect where you choose to look for a flatmate.
Ideally, you want your flatmate to have a similar social life to you so that you can do things together and run on a similar schedule. Living with someone you enjoy hanging out with can make having a flatmate a lot more comfortable and enjoyable. It can also help you feel more at home and allow you to head out and meet new friends in your area.
Location and budget go hand in hand and it’s helpful to find others who have the same or similar budgets to yours. Different areas of London will be pricier than others, for example, central destinations tend to cost a little more than the boroughs in the outer zones.
Using tools like Spare Room and Roomies can help you easily find people looking to spend the same amount as you. When you create a profile you’ll be asked what your monthly or weekly budget is and this will help people use the search filters to find you and vice versa.
PROS AND CONS OF LIVING WITH FLATMATES
Sharing a home with someone - no matter whether you’re family or new friends - always comes with its challenges. Tension can build when boundaries aren’t respected and personalities can clash. However, there are plenty of ways to learn how to deal with flatmates that can make life easier for everyone involved.
Sharing the cost of rent and utilities
Weekly rental payments and monthly utility bills should be split equally among everyone that is a tenant. Some rental agencies will offer individual contracts that give tenets individual responsibilities however more commonly, you and your flatmates will have equal responsibility for paying the rent and utility bills.
Splitting these monthly and weekly costs can make it much more affordable to live in London and in some cases, allow you to live in areas that suit your needs a lot better and in homes that have a little more space.
Shared chores and maintenance
Living with flatmates can also help you keep house a lot easier. There are more people to clean and keep an eye on the maintenance of the property. If anything goes wrong or needs fixing you’ll always have someone there to lean on. This is especially ideal for those living away from home for the first time and want a bit of support while they navigate London life.
More opportunities to make friends and socialise
When you move to somewhere new it can be tough to find your feet at first, especially if you’re starting your new life from scratch and don’t know anyone in your area. Having flat or housemates can offer you instant friends and allow you more opportunities to socialise and expand your social circle.
When your flatmate is your friend you don’t have to head out into London in order to enjoy yourself, you can simply stay in and have a great night hanging out.
Share the cost of furnishings
One of the biggest costs of moving into a new home can be furnishing it. If you’ve opted for an unfurnished or part-furnished rental you’ll have to budget to buy things like sofas, TV beds etc. If you’re living with a roommate then you can share furnishings between you and kit out your new home for less.
As the pandemic showed us, having your own space and time can be great, but too much of it can start to get to you. Having a flatmate means that you can curb the ‘living alone’ loneliness that many experienced during the lockdown and ensure you always have someone there to talk to when you’ve had a rough day.
When you live alone there is nothing stopping you from having your home laid out the way you want, to come and go as you please and running things the way that best suits you. However, when you move in with someone you have to be mindful of their boundaries and habits.
You’ll often have communal spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms that have to cater to everyone. If you want to have friends over, it’s always best to check with your roommates first to make sure everyone feels comfortable. You and your flatmates have equal say over these spaces.
Cleaning duties may go ignored
One of the biggest hurdles of living with a flatmate – whether you knew them before moving in or met them through a site like the ones mentioned above – is getting used to each other's cleanliness and tidiness.
Tension can start to build when one housemate doesn’t pull their weight with the chores, leaving the kitchen or bathroom a mess, cluttering up communal spaces and expecting others to clean up after them. It’s a good idea to set up boundaries around cleanliness early on to avoid any conflict. Some suggestions include:
- Creating a cleaning roster
- Assigning specific chores to individuals or rotating chores
- Have a conversation when you first discuss living together to make it clear your expectations for cleanliness
When you’ve had a stressful day and you just want to go home and relax there’s nothing worse than having to put up with noise. Whether it’s loud music or TV turned up to max volume, constant unwanted noise can cause nerves to start to fray.
Again, make sure to bring this up in initial conversations. Some people may not mind the noise, so if you get stressed out with lots of disrupting sound in the home, then make it known to your potential flatmate early on what your expectations are.
Liability for missed payments
Although sharing the cost of rent and utilities can be a great way to save money, if your flatmates miss a payment or can’t pay their share, you may be liable to pay their way. If you have individual tenancy agreements you can easily avoid this. However, if you’re both tied up in the same contract, it will be up to you to pay the difference which can end up costing double your budget.
TOP TIPS FOR FINDING FLATMATES IN LONDON
London is filled with people of all ages, professions and nationalities looking for flatshares so finding someone to live with can be relatively easy. However, there are a few things we think you should keep in mind when hunting for those perfect people to share a home with.
- Be wary of scammers that may be taking advantage of flatshare platforms. Although the bigger websites such as Spare Room have processes in place to prevent people from being caught out, it’s always worth staying vigilant.
- Don’t send money to people you’ve never met or that you know very little about or that you’ve only spoken to online.
- Always arrange to meet with potential flatmates before agreeing to move in. Not only does this help you to get to know each other, but it also offers the chance to be really clear about what you’re looking for from a flatmate.
- That being said, always meet potential flatmates in a busy part of town for peace of mind and to keep yourself safe.
Questions to ask your potential flatmate
A bit like interviewing someone for a job, you’ll want to make sure you have all the info you need about your new potential flatmate in order to make the right decision. Here are a few questions you might want to ask at your first meeting.
- What’s your budget for rent and utilities?
- Have you ever missed a rental payment or been unable to pay rent for any reason?
- What does your daily schedule look like?
- Are you a smoker or drug user?
- Do you have any pets?
- Are you ok splitting all costs 50/50
- Are you in a relationship?
- If yes, would your significant other be staying overnight regularly?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- How long are you planning to live here?
- Do you like to keep a clean house or would you say you’re fairly messy?
- What are your pet peeves and deal breakers for having a flatmate?
- Are you looking for a vegetarian or vegan only household?
- Are you looking for an LGBTQ+ friendly or aligned household?
- Would you say you’re more of an introvert or an extrovert?
When it comes to finding the perfect flatmate in London you’ll be spoilt for choice. Making sure you’re clear about the type of person you’d like to live with before you start looking for a flatmate, will be essential to success. Why not write a list of qualities you’re looking for so that you’ve always got a guide when sitting down to do your search?
If this is your first time renting or you’re renting for the first time in London, why not have a read of our ‘How to Rent Guide: 10 Things Renters Need to Know in 2022’ blog.