Good places to live in London if you are starting out and have never lived in the UK before

My nephew has just been offered a position in London. We are all very excited for him - the company is a multinational consulting firm that he has admired for years.

He is joining in a role just above entry-level, so pay isn’t a lot - around the GBP 32k to 36k salary band. The office is in the City of London. Can you share any advice on areas to live for the next 2 years, especially given Covid and Brexit? What is a reasonable commute from neighborhoods that are not too expensive for a 24yo living in London for the first time?

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It depends on his type of accommodation / does he want to share a flat with someone else or live on his own/, does he want to commute by bus to work or tube? I worked in the City and used to live close to Elephant and Castle. The area is getting trendy now, a lot of buses to the City as well as tube connections.

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Well he needs a flatmate. Go on Facebook or something to find one would be a start.


He’s probably going to have to choose somewhere further out of the centre to keep the rent down. It might a good idea to look for somewhere he can stay short-term e.g. a month or 2 (perhaps on AirBnB?), and then he can use the time to decide which area will suit him and find a longer term place for the rest of his stay perhaps with advice from his co-workers.

Going south of the river Thames, or going out further east or north-east is usually cheaper, but some areas can be a bit rough and maybe not advisable for someone who is by themselves in a new country.

He can also consider flatshares to get a more central place at a lower cost (and maybe can make some social connections). But most people offering rooms will want to meet him in person before they agree.

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Thank you. Ideally, he gets his own place – but then I told him it’s nice to be able to eat at least once a day over there. His folks – my brother – are rightly concerned about flatmates in a pandemic. But what can you do? Live really, really far from work?

We don’t have any close friends or relatives there who he can crash with for a month or so, but he does have until January to research, connect with people, and plan a landing. That’s way more time than I gave myself when I moved to Taiwan at 25 (pre-airbnb, pre-internet, ore-alotofthings) – but I cannot compare Taipei in the 90s to London today.

Share in North Finchley , a nice safe area.

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If he wants to live at the centre alone he would have to prepare to spend well over half of his take-home pay on rent. Actually probably like 2/3 or even more as he would have to take into account that the salary is pre-tax, the take-home pay would be around 25k. A one-bedroom flat in central London would be well over £1,500/month. That’s just how it is. He can live in zone 3+ to keep the rent down but it would still be fairly expensive and the commute would be horrible. Rush hour underground is remarkably painful.

The most logical choice would be to live with other people. Almost everyone under 30 or in their early 30s in live with flatmates in London.


I’d try to find a house share, like four people sharing a large house. Around Shepherd’s Bush and Acton. If he was lucky he could get a bedroom that was large enough to retreat to if he wasn’t feeling social, and even possibly a back garden.

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You can check the following websites for accommodation:

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Like others have said it will be difficult to find a place to live on his own on that kind of salary and have a convenient commute.

If he doesn’t mind sharing there are plenty of places that are not too far that are nice, safe neighbourhoods with good transport links.

My recommends would be

North - Holloway Road (Islington)
Good safe neighbourhood with tube and bus links and close to Kings Cross. All supermarkets close by but lacking decent pubs/ restaurants nightlife.
The Arsenal football stadium is there which is either a good or a bad thing.

North East - Stoke Newington (Hackney)
Nice area with decent accommodation, plenty of good bars and nightlife. Lots of green space and young professionals in the area.
No tube but plenty of bus links and cycle paths down into the city. Also has overground train lines which run into the city.

East - Bethnal Green (Tower Hamlets)
Really good transport links with both tube and bus. Not the cleanest area but there are plenty of bars and restaurants around and close to Liverpool Street. Big supermarkets close to tube station.

South - Bermondsey (Southwark)
Pretty good transport links has tube and bus links to the city. Nice and safe area next to the Thames, not far from Borough Market, Tower Bridge, Maltby Street etc Lots of good food options and this…

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This insight is fantastic. And in just a couple of hours! Thank you!!

No way can he hope to find a place of his own in the Centre on that salary. But in my last conversation with him, we figured it might be possible to get his own place if there is a healthy commute (1 hour?).

We will research more on the house share so the links providers are deeply appreciated

If he doesn’t mind the commute, Reading to Paddington station is 20-25min by train.

I’d say London has to be a pretty crappy place to live. The novelty wears off at the 6 month mark. Anywhere outside of the city is good. Highgate is nice though but imagine upscale and pricey from my days…But yah, you couldn’t pay me a million pounds to live there again.

As others have said, flatshare. 24, new in UK, knows nothing - it would be a brilliant way of quickly learning what’s what in London. And it gets you a shorter commute, who really wants to spend 2 hours a day on sometimes undependable transport ?

here is a website that may help, costs are a little outdated but its a start

If their job is in the square mile than I say Stratford, as you have the central line, plus overline and it’s in zone 3. You don’t want live in zone 4 or further. Only issue is that salary isn’t going to get you much in terms of rental.

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Best thing to do is to find out what transport links are at his office doorstep and work your way out from there to see what options are available. Avoid having to change trains/tubes/busses if you can. For a nice single bed flat in zone 2 in a nice area you’ll be looking at £1600+ a month. Plus council tax and basic bills will be another £200 or so.

Do they offer any kind of flexible working? When I do go back to the office I’ll only need to be back in once a week. This can make a big difference. A lot of my colleagues commute from quite a way out of London. Just remember a fast train into London is ok, but you need to think about how you get from the station to the office carefully too.


checking the transport links and taking it from there is excellent advice i would say. zone 4 or even 5 isn’t so bad if it’s just one train in


Better be careful in London

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We have promising news: the best man at my sister’s wedding has a flat in Catford, which seems to be in Fare Zones 2/3. There’s a direct Thameslink connection (approx 35 min according to Google Maps) from there to the Tube Station nearest the company office, which Google Maps indicates is an 8 min walk away.

Not only is he apparently willing to lease it at a discounted rent of about GBP 700 a month, but he’s willing to wait for my nephew.

So chances are this will be where my nephew starts out as he gets a feel for life there. Then he can search for a better fit after being there for a couple months

I sincerely appreciate all of the advice and links today. He has time to research further. I hope with his housing situation planned in advance, he can focus on doing well at the new job