First-timers guide to renting in London

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Moving to London can be exciting - what with the all the different areas to explore, varied nightlife, great shopping... the Queen even lives down the road. However it can be daunting too and if you don't feel comfortable in where you're living, then it will be hard to settle in to what is a truly great city.

Below is a guide of all the things that you will need to prepare for moving to the big capital for the first time. It will advise you on what bills you can expect, what different areas can offer and the processes that will make finding your perfect flat as easy as possible.

Research is key

Before you even begin to start looking at properties, you need to do your research. Rental contracts are official documents and you need to make sure you are totally happy with your residence before you've moved in.

The first thing to decide in is what type of property you're after. How many people are you looking for - do you want to live with more people to help save money, or do you value your privacy? If you decide you want more people to live with you, there are processes where you can advertise for another room mate.

Once the house number is decided, you will then need to think about what property you are after - do you want a house for more space, or a flat, which may be cheaper? A budget will also needed to be drawn up - how much can you comfortably afford each month for rent and bills? Remember, to leave some income for the necessities and to treat yourself every once in a while.

Location is everything

Once all this is decided, it's time for the biggest decision... area. Being a big city, finding the right area in London might be tricky. Different places will suit different people - for example graduates are advised to look for properties in areas such as Greenwich, Putney, Highbury - or they could contact the letting agents Forest Hill has to offer. Young professionals may want to try Clapham, Islington or Balham and those after a good night out should look in the areas of Shoreditch or Battersea.

London is also separated into boroughs and is clearly defined by North, South East and West - so it is probably best if you decide on the post code of where you want to live in first, and what landmarks you want or need to be near.

Be warned - London isn't cheap! People on a budget may want to live further away from Central London and commute into the city, as bigger properties in the main heart of the city can cost an average of nearly £3,000 per week!

Bills bills bills

You will face the same bills in London as you will anywhere else in the UK - unless a property states that they are already covered. These monthly bills could include gas, electric and internet. Don't forget the less frequent bills for things like council tax, water, the TV and your telephone. It is important to factor bills into your budget so that you don't face the loss of vital services.

Extra tips

Take your time - you may want to move in somewhere quickly, however you may regret it if you're in a flat or house where you don't feel comfortable. It is also advised that you look around as many flats and houses possible to get a feel for what you like/dislike - as well as talking to people familiar with London.

Familiarising yourself with the tube is also a must, as well as getting to know the different boroughs. All of these things should make sure your first move to London is a happy one and that you find the perfect property to suit your needs.

About the author: Stephen Dedalus started his career as market analyst and has worked for many companies for the last 5 years. After a long gap he has started sharing his experience with his readers and has written many articles on Letting agents.