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The 5 Top Surprises when renting in London – by an American expat

We have always known that American expats are crazy about having a separate dryer from the washing machine (amongst other things). It is one of those things that can come as a surprise to them when moving to London. But there are many others – here is the top 5 as listed by a typical American expat family, and there might be surprises!

1) Furnished vs. unfurnished properties:

  • In the US, rentals are rarely furnished, whilst in London it is rather the opposite, particularly in the 1 and 2 bedroom flats sector.
  • If you are after a short-term rental, the furnished option is good. But if you are after long term rental, it might be preferable to furnish it yourself.

2) The washing: it seems to be such an important topic for most our American clients… Here is their take on it:

  • Having a washing machine in the kitchen is a crazy thing. Americans don’t appreciate mixing the presence of dirty clothes in the food preparation area.
  • In the US the washer and dryer are always two different machines and located in a different room (utilities room / closet or in the garage). Note: in London unfortunately, utilities rooms and garages are a rarity due to the lack of space…
  • The laundry cycle takes forever in the UK, sometimes up to 4 hours! In the US all washing and drying is less than 2 hours together.

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3) Toilets:

  • Toilets in the US are full of water – there is no water in the bowl in the UK
  • The 2 buttons for flushing (economy vs full), which are frequently found in the UK, do not exist in the US

4) Doors:

  • There are too many doors in apartments/houses in UK
  • Everything seems to be separated in small areas in UK, as opposed to more open spaces in the US

5) Additional charges:

  • Council tax does not exist in the US, it needs explaining for Americans renting in London
  • The TV licence, which basically pays for the BBC, does need explaining as there is no equivalent in the US (the closest would be the NPR, the National Public Radio tax which very few Americans pay)
  • Utilities – electricity, garbage collection and water are sometimes included in the rent in the US. In the UK, this is very rare. Most charges outside of the rent are excluded from the rent.

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