A budget will give an accurate idea of the types, locations and sizes of property you can afford. When finding a place to live in London, consider the cost of living, one-off costs and the necessity of having a UK bank account.
Accessing money without a UK bank account can be expensive. With this in mind it is important to bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses such as, living costs, temporary accommodation and transport, while an account is being set up.
One option is a prepaid card which you can load cash onto and use like a debit card until you get one. Find out more about prepaid cards.
To get a comparison of the cost of living in London and the cost of living elsewhere, there are websites which compare the price of everyday essentials.
There is a variety of costs that will usually be incurred when securing and renting a property. This is what you can usually initially expect:
A holding deposit is often paid to a landlord or letting agent to reserve a property and is paid before you sign your tenancy agreement. This should be no more than 1 week of rent for the property you want to reserve.
The deposit should be refunded in full if the landlord decides not to rent to you, but they may keep it, especially if you do not pass a right-to-rent immigration check or give wrong or misleading information.
If your tenancy application is successful your holding deposit will either be refunded or count towards your first payment of rent.
Tenancy deposits can be up to a maximum of five weeks’ rent. This deposit is an assurance to the landlord that when a tenant moves out, the property will be in the same condition that it was received in. If the property is damaged then the landlord may deduct funds from the deposit to cover the damage.
Your landlord and/or letting agent is required to place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP) which keeps your deposit safe for the duration of your contract and provides an avenue to dispute any claims that might be made to your deposit when you leave. You can check which TDP schemes are used in England and Wales and find out more information about deposit laws here.
First Month’s Rent
Additionally, most landlords will also ask for the first month's rent before allowing tenants to move in. To check if your landlord or letting agent is acting legally, check this page.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
These can be used at any time and can be found very commonly on high streets and outside most banks and supermarkets. In British English they are most commonly referred to as "cash machines".
A small plastic card that allows you to pay for items on credit.
A small plastic card that allows you to withdraw cash from an account as well as pay for items in shops, restaurants and online.
A payment out of a bank account which is arranged by the organisation which receives the money, with the express agreement of the account holder. Usually used for paying household bills or subscription services.
An instruction by a bank's customer to the bank to pay an amount of money regularly to another account.
Many banks offer an online banking service, which can be a convenient way of managing your finances. It is essential to keep your online banking username and passwords secure.
An agreed extension of credit when your account reaches zero. There may be charges for late repayment of credit offered.
Different bank accounts may require different documentation; however, the list below encompasses what most banks will request:
- Proof of UK address: If you do not already have this, the Crick can provide a reference letter, which you can email email@example.com to receive. Students can also request a reference letter from their universities.
- Passport/ID: If you are on a visa or are a pre-settled EU national, you may also be required to provide a share code or present your BRP.
Types of Bank Accounts
When choosing to open a bank account, most banks will give you a choice of several bank account types. Below is a short summary of the most common.
Current: This is the most common type of UK bank account, used for every day needs such as receiving your salary, shopping, or paying bills. The cost with most banks is free, and we would recommend you apply for this type of account in order to receive your salary.
- Basic: Some banks offer a Basic account for those struggling to open a Current account – this can be a good alternative if you need to open a UK account quickly. Often, you can then upgrade to a current account at a later date.
- Joint: You can open a bank account in the UK jointly with other people. This is commonly done between married couples and people co-habiting in a long-term relationship.
- Savings: Most banks also will offer a Savings Account. Most people open these alongside a current account, as a way to accrue more money from their savings via higher interest rates. Some may require minimum deposits and stipulate that money needs to remain in the account for a minimum period, depending on the account type. These types of accounts are not suitable for receiving salary payments.
- Sharia-Compliant Bank Account: Some banks will offer Sharia-compliant services if requested, and you can find information about fully Sharia-compliant banks which offer UK bank accounts here.
HSBC allow nationals from many countries to start their application for a bank account before arriving in the UK, you can find more information about this here.
HSBC also offer specific International Student bank accounts, however you can only apply for this once you have arrived in the UK.
Barclays also offers an overseas application start; you will need to be moving to the UK within 90 days from the start of your application. You can find more information about how to apply here.
This is a digital, online-only bank which allows you to open a bank account without visiting the bank in-person. You can find out how to open an account here.
Like Monzo, Starling is digital and online-only; you can find out how to open an account here.