Finding a cheap rental in the UK can be a daunting prospect, but there are many useful tools at your fingertips. Although you might want to find a place quickly, it's definitely worth taking the time to make sure it's right for you and your budget. Before you start your search, write down a list of your accommodation requirements, taking into account commute time, local facilities, parking and security.
Avoid estate and letting agents' offices and use websites directly to ensure that a persuasive agent doesn't talk you into a rental that's over your budget. Many agents also charge fees, which can make a big difference to the final rental price.
Gumtree is a good option for finding below-market rate rentals, but be aware of scams. Never hand over any money unless you've seen the property and have a copy of the contract. Moveflat advertises monthly and weekly rentals in London, and you can search properties by date of listing to ensure you see the most recent results.
If you can't afford to rent an entire flat on your own, or can't find a flat within your budget, think about renting a room. Sites like EasyRoommate let you tailor your search by location, desired moving date and your maximum monthly budget.
Generally, the more rooms your property has, the less rent per room your property will be. Sharing also lowers the cost of bills, groceries and other household essentials and helps you meet new people.
When you find a great flat or room to rent that's within your budget, don't waste time. Affordable rentals don't stay available for long, particularly in London and other big cities. Take your paperwork with you to viewings in order to secure your rental straight away.
Airbnb may be best known for holiday lets, but it includes hundreds of rooms to share in London. It's always worth contacting a host to ask if a long-term stay is possible. Sometimes, a host may even offer a significant discount on the price. Make sure you use the "contact the host" button and not the "book" or "request to book" button to message the host without commitment.
If you've exhausted all other avenues, tell everyone you know you're looking for a cheap rental and ask if they have any suggestions. You might be lucky enough to find a flat before it's even advertised and if you have a personal connection to the landlord or homeowner (e.g., a mutual friend) this works in your favour.