Almost everyone can relate to the particular scenario: you spend years in a rented apartment and begin to grow doubts about the current situation. You get a pet, then your other half moves in and all of a sudden children are on the way. Safe to say, you’re outgrowing the place and year by year it’s even more visible. In due course it gets frustrating and can even impact your relationship.
Living in an apartment is a great idea – but to many it’s only a temporary solution. It’s a steppingstone to something grander. And even though the apartment might be cosy, cheap and the bills are relatively manageable, sometimes the force of nature is simply driving us out to seek out a bigger home. But is that possible in London?
In brief, yes, but it’s very difficult to achieve. First of all there are scant properties out there anyway and few big enough to simply rent. If you live in London and desire a house, you might be forced into purchasing such property, and even that will be located somewhere on the outskirts. It might be a rough area of London or the property could require a lot of work.
If, however, an opportunity arises that you find a suitable home and flat to move in to, which do you choose?
When we ask the question ‘House or apartment in London’, it’s not that simple to answer. Why?
- Living somewhere is a preference
A lot of people enjoy living in their apartments. Many generations of people are brought up with it, like the residents of Amsterdam, New York or London. Few people wish to live in a house, because they are used to the hustle and bustle of street life. We’ve even heard tell that many can’t fall asleep without the street lanterns beaming in their face, or wake up without the car beep used as an alarm.
A lot of people will even embrace the high prices of such flats. They would rather do that and live in a small apartment, than commute to the city centre each day for work. Any place of living that you will choose will have its ups and downs, the positives or negatives.
- Living somewhere is circumstantial
If you live in a very busy city, where accommodation is scant to begin with e.g. London or New York, you might struggle to find a suitable flat, never mind a house. Sometimes there just isn’t any other choice but to live in an apartment, oftentimes with flatmates. Finding a London apartment to rent or buy just for yourself is nearly impossible in the current living crisis.
Many people are also restricted by their financial situation. Renting a house, or paying off a mortgage will naturally be much bigger than that of an apartment. Some people want to save their money, or they simply can’t afford to move to a spacious home.
The circumstances related to family and relationships might also impact the decision making. If you are a single person who is outgoing and rarely spends time in the home, then owning a flat might be the best idea. If, however, you are a married couple and are expecting a child, opting for a bigger space would be desired far more.
Purchasing one or the other is a big decision…
For some, the choice will be obvious, for others it will be a challenge to decide which housing conditions to elect. If mortgaging is involved, this decision could impact the rest of their lives. Buying a property (or building it – in the case of a house) is often a huge decision. Especially in London – if you are pressured to mortgage, you could be looking at spending $400,000 minimum. Many people are forced to take out long-term loans for this purpose. All this makes the dilemma – a house or a flat – especially difficult.
As we mentioned above, we cannot give a one single solution to this conundrum. It all depends on individual preferences, habits, lifestyle, family situation, location, finances etc.
We can, however, make a few suggestions:
If you do end up finding a decent home or apartment, and can’t decide between either, try to analyse your situation up close. Put yourself in the third person perspective and try to figure out what’s best for you.
- For outgoing people or art and entertainment enthusiasts, a more sensible solution would be to choose an apartment. As we said, finding a house somewhere near the city is near impossible unless you’re a millionaire, especially one in the vicinity of a concert hall, cinema, theatre, dance clubs or other cultural and entertainment centres. The tube will be your best friend and close proximity to everything will truly make your life easier.
- The same goes for if you have a high-pressure job. If you start working at 7am and finish at 6pm, driving to your house on the outskirts of London, back and forth will be utterly exhausting.
- If you’re working remotely, and do not need to be in London centre, then opting for a house will be ideal. After all, you can invest into your own office, so you do not live and work in the same space 24/7.
- Work out your financial situation. Do you have enough money to rent a full house? Do you have enough for a deposit or other renting fees? These are all questions you should be asking and evaluating. You need to weigh the options of what you prioritise: saving money or opting for space and comfort.
- Do you own a car? If so, especially if you have a partner who also owns one, it’s probably best that you seek a house. London rarely has on-street parking where you could leave your car overnight. And even if so, the permits are usually limited to one or two max per apartment. If you need your car or if you dislike using the London public transport, opting for a house will be the preferred option.
- Consider your personality. A person owning or renting a house must show a little more dedication. A house requires taking care of the garden, cutting the grass, carrying out many small repairs, or keeping a solid relationship with the neighbours. Owning a house usually leads to paying more council tax etc. Flats in London, however, require little maintenance and it’s usually expected off the landlord to fix various issues.
- How do you deal with light and noise pollution? Or noisy neighbours? All of these are a risk in London, but less so in housing estates. On the other hand, a housing estate could be subjected to a lot more crime. Before making any choices it’s vital to thoroughly research the area and maybe visit some potential neighbours – ask around and learn their candid opinion.
- If you’re planning to rent a place in London, maybe it’s worth asking the landlord, whichever property type, how flexible they are on you renting. Will it be a rolling contract or a 6 month lease? These could all be defining factors that impact your decision.
- More importantly, you should enquire how flexible the decoration situation is. Apartament landlords are less likely to allow you full freedom of décor. However, in many houses you will be allowed to paint the walls, drill in some shelves or rearrange the furniture as long as you revert it back to original state. The same applies for the garden. This is important, because if you are renting but you want to purchase the property in future, you might want to start slowly investing into renovation e.g. replacing the kitchen cabinets or kitchen worktops.
As you can see, the choice is not easy. Especially not in London, where the living crisis and the soaring costs are making it twice as difficult. It is worth recalculating and thoroughly discussing all the pros and cons, preferably with the partner of family. Perhaps a financial advisor or lawyer if you think of staying at the property indefinitely.
As the famous saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.