Finding accommodation in London

[Originally posted on the Fletcher INTERNet]

Just to record some London accommodation ideas in case they might be of use to someone else sometime. It’s great reading everyone’s blog entries!

I’m house-sitting/-renting about a mile east of Karl Marx’s grave in north London. Lucked into this arrangement through sending an e-mail to csr-chicks, a Yahoo! group for women, and men, working in fields related to corporate social responsibility. (There’s also a much less active csrblokes.)

There must be similar listservs for other fields, and the advantage of finding accommodation this way is a sort of immediate trust that comes from shared circles. You also meet interesting people: the woman who owns the house I’m staying in is setting up a research project in Cornwall on global post-mining economic regeneration. The sustainable development issues surrounding the mining industry – where companies come in, mine for ten or thirty years, and get out, leaving the earth depleted and the community unemployed – are fascinating and something I’d like to learn more about.

Two useful accommodation websites, both free to use, are:

  • gumtree.com. Lots and lots of short-term sublets in all price ranges and locations, probably because of the site’s origins as a way for Australian/NZ/South African working holiday-makers and backpackers to share info. Here I learned about “dossing.” A dosser is someone who just wants a roof over his or her head at minimum cost and pays £20-50 a week for couch or floor space in a big shared house ($36-90 at the current stomach-clutching exchange rate of £1 = $1.82).
  • moveflat.com. Biggest section is London but they cover all other major UK cities along with Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Melbourne, Sydney… Mostly longer-term flat and houseshares, but has a section on sublets. Nice interface and search filter with criteria such as “Washing machine” and “Hate football.”

Gumtree.com had lots of ads from folks who were going away on vacation for a week or two or three and were looking to make a little extra cash by subletting their room or flat. This could be an unusual, homey, low-cost accommodation option for anyone visiting London, officially now the world’s second most expensive city (thanks for the link Stephanie… sigh). £100 to stay in Notting Hill for a week, anyone?

And there’s always one of the London university student halls of residence. These generally offer central locations, shared bathrooms and kitchens, and other amenities such as broadband internet access or music practice rooms.

As far as I know the University of London halls – University College, LSE, Imperial, King’s, etc. – charge by the night, so work out too expensive if you’re staying for longer than a week. Good, relatively central options for internship-length stays are the London Metropolitan University halls:

  • Cass and Claredale Halls of Residence, Bethnal Green, east London. Good location, nice rooms at least from the photos, and at just £66-84 a week, I probably would have stayed here if the house-sit hadn’t come along.
  • Other London Metropolitan halls, Holloway and Tufnell Park, north London