When to look
The renter’s market in Aberdeen is very competitive. Properties are often listed and taken within days, sometimes hours, making it difficult, although not impossible, to secure housing while still abroad. Many landlords require a personal viewing of the property before they will agree to rent it to you. If no one in your family is able to come early to look and secure a place, then you may need to wait until you arrive in Aberdeen before you find permanent housing. It is a good idea, if you are able, to start looking at what the market has to offer no more than 1-2 months before you arrive although you can start looking earlier to get an idea of what the market is like. Some properties will be “available for immediate entry” while others may list another entry date. Many flats and homes come fully furnished, which is particularly helpful for those moving from overseas.
Where to look
ASPC (Aberdeen Solicitors’ Property Centre) – This site allows you to select search parameters and then receive updates when a property matches your criteria. The website is updated regularly, so the information is very current. They might also be willing to send you a street map before you come so when you find a place on-line you can see where it is in relation to the University and other things that might be important to you.
Gumtree (similar to Craig’s List) – Also sends email updates.
Citylets – Also sends email updates.
This is North Scotland (online newspaper)
Aberdein Considine (Specific Letting Agency)
What to expect
Small, compact rooms all with doors. Limited refrigerator/freezer space. No tumble dryer. Washing machine in the kitchen. One bathroom even for properties with three bedrooms or more than one floor. No electrical outlets in the bathroom. Minimal to no storage space. Double-paned windows with no screens. Radiator heat controlled in each room. No pets allowed.
Properties go extremely quickly in Aberdeen so the ability to make a quick decision is helpful. If you set up a viewing a day or two before actually going, check beforehand just to make sure it is still available (as sometimes it will be “under offer” and you will not be notified).
Short-term leases (6 month or month-to-month) are helpful for those who arrive with no housing and just need to get into a place. Even if the accommodations are not ideal, the short-term lease will allow you to find something that might suit your needs better in a shorter amount of time, especially once you know the area.
If possible bring references with you (multiple copies of each) from your bank, your current/past employers, and past landlords. If you are unable to bring the actual reference letters, bring names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of each of the above. Emails are essential so the agencies can quickly contact your references, otherwise you will wait 2 weeks for letters to go across the ocean.
Be prepared to make a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. When first arriving, make sure you either bring enough cash for one month’s rent plus deposit or ensure that you will have enough days to take out that much cash from the ATMs before you sign. Some landlords may even require a larger deposit or more months’ rent upfront because you are new to the UK (possibly even up to an entire 6 months lease in advance).
Make sure when you sign the lease that both the husband AND the wife are on the lease. This will help immensely when trying to obtain a bank account and possibly other things requiring proof of your address.
double glazing – double paned windows – Many houses here are double glazed in an effort to conserve heat. Double glazing increases the value of the property.
white goods – in the bathroom bathtub/shower, sink and toilet
ground floor – US first floor (UK first floor is second floor, etc.)
central heating – radiator heat in every room (different from forced air heating out of vents like in the US)
electric space heaters – This is not recommended as your only source of heating, especially if you have children, as the flat will remain quite chilly and it will be extremely difficult to dry clothes, not to mention high electric bills.
shared garden – lawn or flower bed/vegetable garden that is community space and all are responsible for upkeep. Often it will contain clothes airers.
Note: Most properties do not allow pets. If you bring a pet with you from your country, it will add an extra dimension to an already challenging process, therefore we do not recommend this. Additionally, it is a very costly process to bring a pet into the UK. For these two reasons we suggest you make alternate arrangements for leaving your pet in another loving home while abroad.