4 June 2023

A Guide To Finding Accommodation In London

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Heading to the big smoke for an internship is super exciting. However, it can be daunting too. 

As the UK’s biggest city, London can be overwhelming. It’s busy, expensive, and painful to travel around (especially when the tube’s playing up). But finding accommodation doesn’t have to be a struggle.

So we’ve put together a little guide to help you find a place that doesn’t leave you penniless or strike fear into you every time you open the front door.

Where is your employer based?

This might not seem like a big deal when you first think about internship accommodation in London. After all, as long as your office is near a tube station, you’ll be fine, right? Well… not quite.

For example, if you live in Crystal Palace, but your office is near Old Street, it will take you at least an hour and ten minutes to get to work in the morning.

You’ve already spent 2.5 hours of your day travelling…you could fly to Paris and back in that time. Over one week, that’s about 12 and half hours of commuting time.

Few people in London are lucky enough to live within walking distance of their work, so you are likely to use public transport and spend a fair amount of time travelling around. However, there are ways to reduce commute time.

Use Transport for London’s (TfL) website to check journey times. There are also several apps around that you can download to make life easier, such as Citymapper and Google Maps.

How much can you afford to pay in rent?

This is the big one. For many people, rent is now the single biggest expense they pay each month. It’s annoying but also inevitable. The question is, how much can you afford to pay?

As salaries vary significantly between different industries and employers, it’s hard to calculate how much you should pay for your rent every month.

However, the general ‘rule’ is that you shouldn’t spend more than 50% of your monthly income on rent. If you do, you may find it hard to cope with other major living costs like travel and food (as well as those extra costs that sneak up on you… like nights out).

Once you know your salary while on your student placement or internship, you can use this wage calculator to work out roughly what you should be earning each month and week.

For instance, if you’re set to earn £20,000 a year, you should be taking home about £1,415 a month after making all the usual deductions.

So if you wanted to limit your rental payments to a maximum of 50% of your salary, you’d be able to spend up to £707 on rent.

Of course, you don’t have to spend quite that much if you don’t want to, but you should bear in mind that the average price of renting in London is now £935 per month.

Where can you find places to rent in London?

Regardless of your tastes, with a bit of searching, you’ll definitely be able to find accommodation that suits your needs and lifestyle in London. You should also consider how long you’ll be in the capital.

If you’re undertaking a placement year, you’ll want somewhere long-term, whereas a summer internship accommodation in London will look slightly different. In this case, you might want to look at short term rentals or even a long stay Airbnb.

Some great places to look include…

  • SpareRoom: Use custom filters to search thousands of properties in the capital
  • Gumtree: Great for long term stays
  • easyRoommate: Brilliant if you’re looking for a flat share.

Summer internship accommodation

Many London universities allow people to stay in their halls of residence during the summer months while university students have returned home for the holidays.

If you’re looking for inexpensive, well-located and safe summer internship accommodation in London, you should look at which university rooms are available.

Some major London universities include…

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you can’t find anything here, remember to have a little search elsewhere.

Always check places out in person before agreeing to anything or handing over any cash. You’ll want to meet people you’re going to be living with and ask essential questions.

Temporary accommodation

Other sites worth a look for temporary accommodation:

How much is travel going to cost you in London?

Travel costs? Who cares about them. After all, what difference will an extra tube journey or bus ride make? And does it really matter if you live in zone four compared to zone three? Well, you’d be surprised… 

If you’re not careful, the cost of travelling around London could soon sneak up on you and take a real bite out of your bank balance.

Oyster Card

There are many ways to get around the city, but buses and the tube are two of the most popular. You can top up an Oyster card or just use your bank card with contactless. However, it helps to go with the former as it’s easier to keep track of what you’re spending.

How much you pay to travel around London also depends on your zone. When looking for accommodation, make sure you have a tube map to see the breakdown of zones and where the tube lines run.


Why are the tube zones important? The further out you live (i.e. the greater the zone number), the more you have to pay to get into the city centre.

For example, a monthly travel card for travelling between zones one and two currently costs £156.30.

Whereas for zones one to five, a monthly travel card costs £267.30. That’s a difference of £111. And basically, what this means is that you need to do a bit of number crunching. 

You have to compare combined rent / travel costs to get an idea of what’s most cost-effective for you while also thinking about how much time you’re willing to spend travelling.

How much money will you have left after rent and travel?

​Once you’ve got a good idea of how much you’ll be earning each month and worked out your combined outgoings for rent and travel, you should be able to find out how much money you’ll be left with. 

Below we’ve included a few other things that you’re going to need to pay for every month (though, of course, these won’t apply to everyone):

  • Bills, such as water, electricity and broadband
  • Food
  • Mobile phone contract
  • Contents insurance
  • TV licence
  • Nights out with work (could be a lot depending on where you work!)
  • General socialising / going out

Not to mention things like new clothes, cosmetics and those sneaky extra costs that seem to come out of nowhere. Of course, a lot of this is in your control.

What should you ask your landlord before moving in?

Moving into a rental property is serious business, no matter how long it’s for. So, we’ve compiled this list of questions that you should always ask an estate agent or landlord before moving into a property (or at least have in mind when checking out a property).

  • How much is the monthly rent?
  • How long is the contract / rent period?
  • When does the rent need to be paid?
  • Is rent paid by each person or by the house as a whole?
  • Are bills included in the rent? If so, which ones?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • When must the deposit be paid?
  • Where will the deposit be kept? (Make sure it’s in a deposit protection scheme and that you get the details)
  • When will you get the deposit back?
  • How much notice do I need to give before moving out?
  • Will I get a signed copy of the contract?
  • Is the property furnished?
  • Are there working smoke alarms?
  • Will the landlord pay if something stops working? (Such as the fridge, heating, etc.)
  • When can I move in?
  • What is the policy on pets / having friends over?
  • Does the property have WiFi / Broadband?

Be sure to start your search for London accommodation early.

The property market is highly competitive, and you risk losing out or paying extra for the time you aren’t there.

To find out more about renting in London (or anywhere else), check out this guide from the government.