Guest Post: Tom Church presents uHouse

As you and I well know, living in London is expensive and finding an affordable place to stay can be incredibly difficult. There’s no doubt about it. A student from University College London (UCL) has created a website that he says will help make life a bit easier for anyone on a budget when it comes to flat hunting. And so of course I’ve invited him to write a guest post telling us more about his site and the story behind it. Meet Tom Church.

The first bedroom was more like a prison cell. 9ft long and 6ft wide, it was one of eighty-six identical rooms along a single corridor. “Welcome to your university accommodation”, smirked the security guard. There were two bathrooms and one kitchen shared between forty-three ‘flatmates’. And this kitchen only had one mini-fridge and microwave. The whole place was noisy, dirty, and quite frankly disgusting. But I loved it.
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Londoners can make anything fun, and that year I spent in university-provided accommodation was one of my best. Yet it was also one of the most expensive. Before moving in, I had been naively made to believe that £155 a week for that room was “about right” in London. Remember; no living room, no outside facing window, no sleep. Yet, with an interest-free student loan coming in, who was I to complain? The contract was signed, bags packed.
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Friday Night BluesPhoto: Friday Night Blues by Karva Javi
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Five months later, sitting by a cash-machine, a homeless man asked if I had any change. It was the same man that always asked me for change, and this time, as I was checking my balance and taking out some cash, I would oblige. Then I double-blinked. The on-screen balance read £55.
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With a month to go until my next loan instalment, I was broke. I had to get two part-time evening jobs to pay the rent whilst studying, and it was here I learnt that I was not alone. This story is very, very common amongst London students – especially those from overseas. London rent is just too expensive.
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The Courtain
Photo: Courtain by s_mahela
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However, every problem has a solution. For the last two years I’ve been researching the London rental market and think that I have it. And through Stephanie’s great blog, I would like to present it to you. How can you make London rent cheaper? There are three answers:
  1. Share the flat
  2. Live further out
  3. Look really hard
My solution combines all three, and here it is: uHouse.co (yes, .co).
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uHouse lists all the affordable properties to rent in London. It searches the listings of all the small estate agencies in London, and picks the few houses that are within a budget: £650 per month per person OR LESS. It allows you to contact the estate agent/landlord directly, so there’s no middle man, and it’s entirely free to use. There’s even a Facebook page so you can keep an eye on the best flats as they come up.
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The streets of London
Photo: The Streets of London by Gautier Houba
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uHouse is my thank you gift to the Londoners that made my stay very enjoyable despite some prison-like conditions. I hope that you will find it useful, and if you do find a place to live through it, don’t forget to thank Stephanie for allowing me to write this guest article!
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Find it, love it, live it.
Tom Church
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