Renting a self-contained studio vs shared accommodation

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When you are moving to London, securing the right accommodation is one of the most essential phases of the process. Renting a property in London, especially if you’re on your own and have a low budget, can be tricky.  The difficult part is knowing when to choose a self-contained accommodation compared to sharing a property with other “flatmates”.

In this blog article, we look at the benefits and drawbacks of both self-contained studios and shared housing to help you decide which option is best for your situation.

Self-contained studio

One of the most significant benefits in renting a self-contained studio is that it gives you privacy. You will not have to share common areas with other people, so you are free to make all of your own choices and are not beholden to your flatmates to maintain rooms clean and tidy as promised in the tenancy agreement.

When to choose to go for a self-contained studio in London

  • If you like having your own private space
  • If you’re working from home and need privacy
  • If you don’t like to share (e.g communal areas, kitchen, bathroom, fridge, washing machine/dryer)
  • If you’re an introvert
  • If you don’t like too much noise 
  • If you are okay with less space 
  • If you don’t need a lot of storage space
  • If you have a realistic budget for a studio. For example, in London, you should plan for a minimum of £1000 (note this will vary based on the neighbourhood, space and quality of fixtures / furnishings)

What to look for when renting a self-contained studio

It’s important to note that, in the UK, most studios are conversions, meaning they were originally part of a house or a larger flat, which was converted into multiple, smaller, self-contained spaces to offer accommodation to more tenants.

In this context, make sure to look out for the following:

  • The layout of the studio and the efficiency of space
  • The quality of the fixtures and materials used. In particular, don’t be fooled by low-cost, thin partition walls that allow you to hear all of your neighbours’ conversations and more!
  • The water pressure
  • The ventilation system in the bathroom
  • The extractor fan in the kitchen area 
  • The bills that are included and what comes as an extra charge (e.g. heating, electricity)

Living in a self-contained studio provides you with greater privacy compared to shared living space. This means you won’t have to worry about noisy housemates and their guests disturbing you when you need a quiet space. You also have full control of your environment. For example, it’s much easier to keep your living room or kitchen clean, without having to worry about your flatmates messing things up.

On the flipside, the most important disadvantage of living in a self-contained studio is the associated expense. It will generally be a more expensive living arrangement than sharing accommodation.

Shared Accommodation

It’s critical to figure out precisely what is meant by shared accommodation. This generally refers to any sort of housing (e.g. houses, flats) that has two or more rooms and where communal facilities are shared with other tenants.

Many tenants choose to live in a home where they share a whole property with friends / flatmates, such as a 2 bedroom flat or a 3 or 4 bedroom house. They have their own bedroom while sharing communal spaces such as a kitchen, bathroom, and living room.

When to choose to go for shared accommodation

  • If you like to socialise (you will cross paths with your flatmates several times a day)
  • If you are budget sensitive
  • If you want a bigger space – for the price of a studio, you can generally get a good-sized 2 bedroom property that you can share with a flatmate
  • If you want space to cook
  • If you want a good-sized living area to chill out
  • If you don’t need so much privacy
  • If you don’t work from home (or at least not so often) 

What to look for when renting a shared accommodation

  • The most important thing is to get to know your flatmates and their interests – it’s very important to get along with them
  • Agree on house rules upfront! 
  • Agree on how to split the rent and the bills! 
  • Agree on how to allocate bedrooms. If one is much smaller than the other ones, you can arrange to switch rooms every 6 months, or split the rent according to bedroom size.

If the property is classified as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), make sure that the property is licensed and meets all the safety standards defined by the government (England & Wales, Scotland).  In England & Wales, a HMO is defined as “a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 household (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen”. 

In Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for shared accommodation or a self-contained studio, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Shared accommodation can be cheaper and gives the opportunity to have a lot more social interaction, but requires more organisation in order to avoid conflict.

Self-contained studios, on the other hand, allow you the freedom of coming and going as you please without worrying about disturbing anyone else. It gives you more privacy. This is ideal if your work schedule changes frequently or if you’re more of an introvert, who needs their own space and quiet time to recharge your batteries. The decision will depend on what’s most important to you: affordability, flexibility, privacy, social interaction?

If you’d like to discuss your options in more detail, book a free consultation with one of our property experts. We’ll walk you through the key considerations and decision-making criteria and help you make an informed choice when it comes time to find housing in London!

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