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How to settle in the UK: guidance on accommodation



Hi, I am Uma, an IMG from India working as a Clinical Fellow in Cardiology and Medicine at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. In today's blog, I would like to share with you some tips on how to find a suitable property in the UK.


Enjoy the search


Finding accommodation, moving houses or living alone for the first time are exciting parts of your new job. Of course, it can be overwhelming but it’s an interesting experience. So the first tip is to enjoy the search. By trying to find your perfect accommodation, you will be exploring a new area, talking to local people or agencies, and getting more confident in what you really want. These are all very important experiences that shape your personality and eventually polish your adjustability.


How much are you willing to spend?


Your budget mainly depends on your salary but a maximum of around 1000 GBP is acceptable with an SHO salary. Every city is different in the matter of expenses, for example, I live in Bristol and the rent is in general very expensive.


In general, the average rent that you would need to pay in the UK varies depending on where you live and the type of accommodation you have. Rent is cheaper in the north of the country and higher in the south, and expensive in London. In terms of the size of the accommodation, a one-bedroom apartment averages £750 - £1500 per month if you live in the city; £600 - £800 if you are outside of the city. It may be more if you are paying bills and not only the rent itself.


What kind of property do you want to rent and who do you want to live with?


If you have come with a family, probably you might be looking for bigger houses. However, if you have come by yourself, then it depends if you want to live alone or share the accommodation with someone. This mainly depends on your budget. Choose flatmates wisely as living with someone is very different from being friends with them and make sure you have also discussed splitting of bills and other stuff before moving in together. Discussing


How and where to search for flats/houses?


There are many specialized platforms available for house hunting. Some of the popular ones that I have used are Zoopla, Rightmove, OpenRent, On the market and Spareroom. The other useful options are to search for local letting agencies, get in touch with them and get yourself added to their mailing list/text alerts. While looking for property, you can set many filters. These include location, number of rooms in the house, rent price, children or pet-friendly options, furnished/unfurnished etc. The best way to go about the search is to put in the postal code of the hospital and then search within a comfortable radius. If your hospital isn’t near a residential area, you may need a wider area, so putting in at least 5 extra miles is a good starting point. Then carefully look at the pictures and the tenancy agreement and bills. If the advertisement says unfurnished, what exactly comes with the house, i.e., does it come with a fridge/freezer, washing machine or dishwasher? - also known as white goods. If you like the flat, the contact details of the agent/landlord will be mentioned in the advertisement. Give them a ring and book a viewing as soon as possible. Do mention that you’re a doctor in the NHS, it does help! So, as soon as a property comes on the market, you should contact them for booking viewings. It is a very competitive process and sometimes the property gets booked almost immediately after coming into the market. Give the agents a call first thing in the morning otherwise you may not get a turn for viewing. I would recommend going for as many viewings as possible because it gives you an idea of what kind of property you like.


What to look for in the rental agreement?


So, firstly it’s important to know the exact rent per month. Check whether the rent covers the utilities, i.e., the water bills, electricity/gas, internet. The other things to look for are whether there are any additional costs apart from the rent, whether the rent is fair for the area and most importantly whether you can afford it depending on your salary. The tenancy period is the other important thing to look at and also about the conditions in case you have to move out of the apartment earlier than specified in the contract. Be cautious, because some landlords could still charge you until the end of your contract even if you do not live in the apartment anymore. That is why it is important to thoroughly check the agreement before signing it. If something is not clear, please double check it with the landlord or ask someone who has some experience in renting houses in the UK. Some flats will be demanding a deposit which is usually 5 weeks' rent. Please do check whether this deposit is covered by the government-approved scheme https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection.


What to keep in mind for the viewing day?

When you are going for many viewings in a short time frame, things can get confusing. But always make sure before going for the viewing, you have to carefully look at the pictures of the flat and read the rental agreement. Try taking a video/ picture of the place for future reference and confirm the details of the agreement with the agent. It might be handy to have a checklist in order to check and discuss everything that is important to you. If you like the property, take the application form.


What's next?


After surveying, if you like a property and think it’s suitable for you, fill out the application form and send it to the agent along with relevant documents. Once your application is accepted, they will send you the contract. Go through it thoroughly and if you have any doubts, clarify them before signing it. Do not sign the contract if something is not clear or looks suspicious. It is always better to double-check everything.


Once everything is finalised and the contract is signed, it’s time to collect the keys now! Please make sure you have taken photos of everything. What you don’t want is to be in doubt about a scratch on the furniture whether it was before or after you moved in. Make a list of issues and email the estate agents who will then forward them to the landlord. Usually, the estate agents/landlords are professional and helpful.


Summary


Don’t rush any decisions when it comes to finding a property to stay in. Do as many viewings as possible and discuss with friends/family for a second opinion. I hope this blog helps you with finding suitable accommodation. I have also listed some important links below.


If you have any questions feel free to ask on the TrewLink website, I would be happy to help.


If you found our blog articles helpful, please share them with your IMG friends & colleagues who may also benefit from reading our blog.


Good luck,

Dr Uma


Written by Uma

Edited by Julia

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