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Where to Rent in London on a Budget: Cheapest Places to Live

Updated: May 16

Living in London is an exciting prospect for many, but the city's notoriously high rental prices can be a major obstacle. With the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in London hovering around £1,700, it's no wonder that finding an affordable place to call home can feel like an insurmountable challenge. However, there are still some hidden gems in the city where you can find more budget-friendly rental options. Below, we'll take a look into the cheapest areas to rent in London, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about where to live.



Factors Affecting Rental Prices in London


Before we explore the most affordable areas, it's important to understand the various factors that influence rental prices in the city. Here are some of the key elements that can impact the cost of renting in London:

  1. Location: Generally speaking, the closer a property is to central London, the higher the rental price will be. Areas that are farther from the city centre tend to have lower rental costs.

  2. Transport Links: Properties located near tube stations, major bus routes, or train stations often command higher rents due to the convenience they offer for commuters.

  3. Local Amenities: Areas with a wide range of shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and other amenities can drive up rental prices, as they are more desirable places to live.

  4. Property Type: The type of property available in an area can also affect rental costs. For example, areas with a higher proportion of larger houses or spacious flats may have lower average rents compared to those with mostly studio apartments or shared accommodation.

  5. Demand: High demand for rental properties in a particular area can push prices up, while lower demand can lead to more affordable options.


1. Bexley


Bexley, in southeast London, currently holds the crown for the cheapest rental area in the city. With an average monthly rent of £1,100 for a one-bedroom flat, Bexley offers a significantly more affordable alternative to the sky-high prices found in central London boroughs.


Rental Prices

Property Type

Average Monthly Rent

1-bedroom flat

£1,100

2-bedroom flat

£1,300

3-bedroom house

£1,600

4-bedroom house

£1,900

Pros and Cons


Living in Bexley has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you'll benefit from:

  • Lower rental prices compared to more central areas

  • More spacious properties, often with gardens or outdoor spaces

  • A quieter, more suburban atmosphere that's ideal for families

However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Longer commute times to central London (around 45 minutes to an hour by train or car)

  • Fewer local amenities and nightlife options compared to more central areas

  • Reduced job opportunities in the immediate vicinity


Transport and Commuting


Despite its distance from central London, Bexley is well-connected by public transport. The borough is served by several rail stations, including:

  • Bexley station

  • Albany Park station

  • Crayford station

These stations offer direct connections to London Bridge and Charing Cross, with journey times of around 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a bus to nearby Abbey Wood station and catch the new Elizabeth Line for faster journeys into the city centre.


Local Highlights


Bexley has plenty to offer in terms of green spaces and leisure activities. Some of the top local attractions include:

  • Hall Place and Gardens: A stunning Tudor mansion set in beautiful landscaped gardens

  • Danson Park: A large park with a lake, playgrounds, and sports facilities

  • The Red House: A historic house designed by William Morris, now owned by the National Trust

The borough also has a good selection of shops, restaurants, and supermarkets, particularly in the main town centres of Bexleyheath and Welling.



2. Havering


Havering, located in East London, is another top contender for affordable rental properties in the capital. With an average monthly rent of £1,150 for a one-bedroom flat, Havering provides a budget-friendly alternative to the more expensive boroughs closer to the city centre.


Rental Prices

Property Type

Average Monthly Rent

1-bedroom flat

£1,150

2-bedroom flat

£1,350

3-bedroom house

£1,500

4-bedroom house

£1,800

Types of Properties


One of Havering's main draws is the variety of property types available. The borough offers a mix of modern flats and traditional terraced houses, with a higher proportion of larger properties compared to more central areas. Many homes in Havering also benefit from gardens or outdoor spaces, making it a popular choice for families.


Transport and Accessibility


Havering is well-connected to central London, with several tube stations on the District Line, including:

  • Elm Park

  • Hornchurch

  • Upminster Bridge

The borough also has several rail stations, such as Romford and Gidea Park, which offer direct connections to Liverpool Street and Stratford. For those driving, Havering has easy access to the A12 and M25 motorways.


Local Highlights


Havering is known for its abundant green spaces, with several large parks and nature reserves to explore. Some of the top local attractions include:

  • Hornchurch Country Park: A 104.5-hectare park with a variety of habitats and a visitor centre

  • Bedfords Park: A scenic park with woodland, meadows, and a lake

  • Raphael Park: A popular park with sports facilities, a playground, and a cafe

The borough also has a thriving town centre in Romford, which offers a wide range of shops, restaurants, and leisure facilities.


3. Croydon


Croydon, situated in South London, has become increasingly popular with young professionals and families seeking affordable rental properties. With an average monthly rent of £1,200 for a one-bedroom flat, Croydon provides a more cost-effective option compared to central London, without sacrificing convenience or amenities.


Rental Prices

Property Type

Average Monthly Rent

1-bedroom flat

£1,200

2-bedroom flat

£1,400

3-bedroom house

£1,600

4-bedroom house

£1,800

Housing Stock


Croydon boasts a diverse range of rental properties, from modern high-rise flats to charming Victorian terraced houses. The area has seen significant regeneration in recent years, with numerous new developments offering high-quality, affordable rental options.


Transport Links


One of Croydon's main selling points is its excellent transport links to central London. The borough has several train stations, including East Croydon and West Croydon, which offer quick and direct services to London Victoria and London Bridge, with journey times of around 15-20 minutes.

Croydon is also served by the London Overground and has an extensive network of bus and tram routes, making it easy to get around both locally and into central London.


Local Highlights


Croydon has a vibrant and diverse town centre, with a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Some of the top local attractions include:

  • Boxpark Croydon: A trendy food and drink venue housed in shipping containers

  • The Whitgift Centre: A large shopping mall with over 140 stores

  • Fairfield Halls: A recently renovated arts and entertainment complex

For families, Croydon offers a good selection of schools and green spaces, such as Lloyd Park and South Norwood Country Park.


4. Sutton


Sutton, located in southwest London, is another great option for renters seeking affordable prices and a family-friendly atmosphere. With an average monthly rent of £1,150 for a one-bedroom flat, Sutton provides a more budget-friendly alternative to the pricier boroughs closer to the city centre.


Rental Prices

Property Type

Average Monthly Rent

1-bedroom flat

£1,150

2-bedroom flat

£1,350

3-bedroom house

£1,550

4-bedroom house

£1,800

Sutton's Appeal


Sutton is often praised for its low crime rates, excellent schools, and abundant green spaces, making it a popular choice for families. The borough offers a diverse range of property types, from modern flats to spacious houses with gardens, catering to a variety of preferences and budgets.


Transport and Commuting


Despite its location in outer London, Sutton is well-connected to the city centre. The borough has several rail stations, including:

  • Sutton station

  • Cheam station

  • Wallington station

These stations offer direct connections to London Victoria and London Bridge, with journey times of around 30-40 minutes. Sutton also has a comprehensive bus network and easy access to the A3 and M25 for those who drive.


Local Amenities


Sutton town centre offers a good mix of high street brands and independent shops, and a variety of restaurants, cafes, and pubs. The borough also has several leisure facilities, such as:

  • Sutton Sports Village: A modern sports complex with a gym, swimming pool, and sports courts

  • The Secombe Theatre: A popular venue for theatre, comedy, and music events

For outdoor enthusiasts, Sutton has an abundance of parks and green spaces, including Nonsuch Park, Beddington Park, and Oaks Park.


5. Lewisham


Lewisham, situated in southeast London, has become increasingly popular with renters seeking affordable properties with good transport links to central London. With an average monthly rent of £1,300 for a one-bedroom flat, Lewisham offers a more budget-friendly option compared to many other London boroughs.


Rental Prices

Property Type

Average Monthly Rent

1-bedroom flat

£1,300

2-bedroom flat

£1,500

3-bedroom house

£1,700

4-bedroom house

£2,000

Lewisham's Appeal for Houseshares


One of the main draws of Lewisham is its affordability for those looking to share a property. The borough has a good selection of larger homes, such as three and four-bedroom houses, which can be shared among multiple renters to reduce individual costs.


This makes Lewisham particularly popular with young professionals and students seeking budget-friendly houseshare options.


Transport Links


Lewisham is well-connected to central London, with several rail and DLR stations offering quick and easy access to the city centre. Some of the key transport hubs include:

  • Lewisham station (DLR and rail)

  • Blackheath station (rail)

  • Hither Green station (rail)

These stations provide direct connections to London Bridge, Cannon Street, and Bank, with journey times of around 15-20 minutes. Lewisham is also served by an extensive bus network and has easy access to the A20 and A2 for those driving.


Local Culture and Regeneration


Lewisham is known for its vibrant cultural scene and strong sense of community. The borough has a diverse population and hosts a variety of arts and music events throughout the year, including:

  • Lewisham People's Day: A free annual festival celebrating the borough's diversity

  • Brockley Max: A community arts festival featuring live music, theatre, and exhibitions


In recent years, Lewisham has undergone significant regeneration, with new developments and improvements to local amenities and public spaces. This has helped to make the borough an increasingly attractive option for renters seeking affordable homes in a lively and up-and-coming area.


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Tips for Finding Cheap Rentals in London


  1. Use online property portals: Websites like Rightmove, Zoopla, and OpenRent are great resources for searching for rental properties in your desired areas. Be sure to set up email alerts to be notified when new listings that match your criteria become available.

  2. Consider houseshares: Sharing a flat or house with others can significantly reduce your rental costs. Websites like SpareRoom and RoomBuddies can help you find potential flatmates and available rooms in houseshares.

  3. Be flexible with your search criteria: Being open to a wider range of locations or compromising on certain amenities can help you find more affordable rental options. Consider expanding your search to lesser-known areas or properties that may not have all the features on your wishlist.

  4. Time your search wisely: Rental prices can fluctuate throughout the year, with the winter months typically being quieter and potentially offering lower prices due to reduced demand. If possible, try to time your rental search for the off-peak season.

  5. Work with local letting agents: Agents who specialise in a particular area can provide valuable insights into the local rental market and may have access to properties that aren't listed online. They can also help you find suitable options within your budget.

  6. Look for funding support: Help may be available for some through initiatives such as applying for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)


Additional Resources

  • London Rents Map: A helpful tool for comparing rental prices across different areas of London.

  • Move to London: A comprehensive guide to living in London, with information on areas, transport, and more.

  • SpareRoom: A popular website for finding rooms to rent and potential flatmates.

  • OpenRent: An online platform that allows you to search for and rent properties directly from landlords.

  • Transport for London Journey Planner: A useful tool for planning your commute and comparing travel times from different areas of London.


Ready to Make Your Move?


While renting in London can be a costly endeavour, there are still affordable options available for those willing to look beyond the most central and well-known areas. By focusing your search on boroughs like Bexley, Havering, Croydon, Sutton, and Lewisham, you can find rental properties at prices significantly lower than the London average.


When choosing an area to live in, be sure to consider factors such as transport links, local amenities, and the types of properties available, besides rental costs. Don't be afraid to explore lesser-known neighbourhoods or consider houseshares as a way to further reduce your expenses.


With a bit of research, flexibility, and patience, you can find your ideal rental home in London without breaking the bank. Happy house hunting!


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