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June 7, 2010
Moving To London: How Long A Lease To Look For
When I was first moving to London, I came across an issue of how long a lease to look for. I ended up being comfortable with longer lease because I wanted to avoid searching for a new place to live before getting truly settled. As a student, the longer lease was not an issue as I had no desire to look for a new place to live half way through my first year studying. This can be the case for ex pats moving to London for only a few years: they are willing to take longer leases so that they don’t have to worry about finding new places to live midway through their stay.
What I found, though, is that shorter leases are even more valuable when you are moving to a new city. I learned a lot in my first few months living in London: what all of the different areas are like; how long it takes for me to get around the city; where I went on weekends; how annoying I found planed engineering works. As well, everyday parts of my life changed: what I would eat; how often I went to the grocery store, or would eat out; how much of my budget is spent on travel, drinks, food or entertainment; how much I could cook. After moving to London, I found that my lifestyle changed quite significantly from when I was living in Boston and Denver. Had I insisted on a shorter lease, I could have found housing that better suited my situation.
My advice, put a shorter lease or early break clause high on your list of priorities. As short a lease as possible, especially for younger people, will allow you to get a taste of the city without burdening you with too long a lease. You will probably be able to extend the lease if you truly like the property, and you will be able to keep your options open if something changes significantly. Living in a new city, especially coming from a different country, changes a lot of habits. It is best to have some time to become familiar with those changes and then structure your property search around what you discover.