Trying to find an affordable place to rent in London can feel like a herculean challenge. According to Trust for London, London rents are more than twice the national average, with a two-bed rental costing between £1,200.00 and £1,730.00 per calendar month (pcm, weekly rent multiplied by the 52 weeks in the year, then divided by 12). It’s not all bad news though, there are still areas where you can find affordable places to live in London.
Some neighbourhoods work out better for house shares rather than one- or two-bedroom flats. Based on four people sharing, share houses are a decent option for students moving out of halls, or arriving in London with a group of mates for the first time. Our cheapo guide includes property type, average cost per person, and commute time from central London (all within 40 minutes) and average travel costs.
As of 2019, Bexley in the south-east corner of London comes out on top as the cheapest place to rent in London, with an average overall asking rent per property coming in at £1,155.00 and one-bedroom flats with an asking rent of £823.00. But according to OnTheMarket.com, it’s cheapest for a group of four, with rent costing just over £400.00 a month per person.
As it’s out in Zone 6 and on the borders of London and Kent, Bexley offers a more residential vibe than suburban. That being said, it’s not too far from Greenwich, and there is also a village and lots of green spaces.
There is no tube, but trains take around 30 minutes to Charing Cross. Living out that far means steeper travel costs, so bear that in mind when you’re picking an area.
Area: South London / Kent
Travel zone: Zone 6, £246.60 in travel costs per month
Commuting time to central London: ~30 minutes
Best value: Four-bed house £408.38
Much like Bexley, nearby Bromley is a sleepy, south-east London suburb and is served only by train rather than the underground. There are two stations in Bromley: Bromley South is in Zone 5, and runs to Blackfriars and Victoria (or Peckham for better nightlife); and Bromley North is in Zone 4, and is flanked by smaller stations including Shortlands and Beckenham Junction.
House shares are cheap around here, and it’s even possible to rent a one-bedroom flat for just over £900.00 per calendar month, not an easy find in London. Three- or four- bedroom properties are still by far the cheapest option—with three beds at around £640.00–£791.00 per person and four bedrooms at around £522.00.
Area: South-east London
Travel zone: Zone 4/5, £194.00–£230.40 per month
Commuting time to central London: 20-30 minutes to Victoria from Bromley South
Best value: Four-bed house £522.00 per person pcm
If Bexley or Bromley are just a little too far away for your liking, but you’re keen on south-east London, then Lewisham is also worth a look, particularly for house sharers as a typical four-bedroom house works out at around £603.50 per person each month. Rent is still quite a good deal for two people sharing at around £700.00 a month each, but if you’re renting solo, that will set you back over a grand.
Transport links are good, with both the DLR and Trains running into the station and plenty of night bus routes too, including the no. 21 from Trafalgar Square and no. 47 from Shoreditch.
Lewisham is fairly urban and concrete compared with neighbouring Brockley, but The SE13 extends to leafier parts like Ladywell and Hither Green, and Blackheath is a short walk away. There has been a lot of gentrification in Lewisham in recent years, so rent isn’t as cheap as it was, so it’s worth getting in while it’s still affordable.
Area: South-east London
Travel zone: Zone 2, £134.80 per month
Commuting time to central London: 10 minutes to London Bridge, 15 minutes to Cannon St and 20 minutes to Charing Cross.
Best value: Four-bed house £603.50 per person pcm
The south London ‘burb Croydon, or ‘Cronx’ as it’s been dubbed more recently, has suffered from a bit of a joke rep over the years. However, brilliant transport links, a new tech hub micro breweries, street markets and reasonable rental cost are giving locals the last laugh.
Croydon is pretty sprawling, but East Croydon is the most central, best served bit with regular trains into London Bridge or Victoria (15–20 minutes) in one direction and Brighton and Gatwick Airport in the other. It’s also one of the few London neighbourhoods that has trams.
Properties are a mix of new builds and period properties, with a four-bedroom place costing around £2,068.00 pcm (average £517.00 per person). It’s also decent for smaller flats with the average cost of a two-bedroom at £1,315.00 overall and around £900.00 for a one-bedroom place.
Area: South-east London
Travel zone: Zone 5: £230.40 per month
Commuting time to central London: 15–25 minutes to Victoria or London Bridge
Best value: Four-bed house £517.00 per person pcm
Way over in the deepest corners of north London, Enfield is a large suburban/village area with several sub-areas, and plenty of green spaces including the Forty Hall manor house and gardens and the New River Loop. The central area is Enfield Town with a big high street and a train line that runs to Liverpool Street in around 40 minutes. The most common property rentals are two- and three- bedrooms costing an average of £1,322.00 pcm (£661.00 per person) and £1,731.00 pcm (£577.00 per person) respectively.
Area: North London
Travel zone: Zone 5, £230.40 per month
Commuting time to central London: 30–40 minutes to Liverpool Street
Best value: Three-bed house £577.00 per person pcm
The north-east London borough is made up of Walthamstow, Leyton and Chingford. Walthamstow and Leyton have both become a lot more popular in the past few years, with the gentrification of Hackney pricing a lot of people out of the area. Chingford is a little farther out, and probably the cheapest part of the borough.
It’s one of the few cheaper areas that ticks most Londoner’s boxes: low rent costs, great transport, community feel and lots of things to do. The area is full of green spaces and cultural gems like the independent shops and restaurants of Walthamstow Village. Plus, Epping Forest isn’t too far away either for some proper escapism.
Transport links are excellent here, including:
The Victoria Line (the fastest line across London) at Walthamstow Central,
The Central Line at Leyton and Leytonstone, and
The Overground at Walthamstow Central, Walthamstow Wood Street and Leyton Midland Road.
Two- and three- bedroom properties are the best bet here, especially in Walthamstow. An average two-bedroom flat currently costs around £1,415.00 (£707.00 per person). A three-bedroom costs £1,681.00 (£560.00 per person).
Area: East London
Travel zone: Zone 3 / 4, £158.00–£194.00 per month
Commuting time to central London: 20 minutes from Walthamstow Central to Oxford Circus
Best value: Three-bed flat, £560.00 per person pcm
For more London accommodation info, check out the articles below:
- New Student in London? Tips for Affordable Accommodation
- A Cheapo’s Accommodation Guide: Property Guardianship
- A Cheapo’s Accommodation Guide: House Sitting