‘I’m about to start my TC in London. Where should I live?’

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By Legal Cheek on

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Trainee needs guidance


In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, a soon-to-be trainee solicitor wants some pointers on where to live in London.

“I will soon be starting my training contract at a law firm in London and I would like to recommendations on where to live. Their office isn’t far from Liverpool Street Station. I still haven’t decided whether to base myself somewhere outside of London (more affordable with the option of living alone) or opt for a flat share closer to my office. I am not really familiar with London or the surrounding areas as I have lived and studied in the Midlands most of my life. Any tips or advice would be really welcome.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at tips@legalcheek.com.

31 Comments

Anonymous

Don’t live in the commuter belt unless you’re living with a partner. You will feel extremely isolated from your colleagues and find it difficult to make new friends; you’ll also be spending about two hours every day shuttling back and forth on unreliable trains (plus potentially having to drive to and from your station). All the amenities there are also skewed towards families and older people rather than young professionals, which compounds the feeling of isolation.

Live close to the office (but not too close – you don’t want the boundaries between work and leisure to become completely dissolved) and try to make the most of London life – you probably won’t be living there forever, so enjoy it while you can!

Anon

This is poor advice, simply listing all the negatives of living in the commuter belt with none of the positives (and vice versa with living “close to the office”).

For balance, here are some of the arguments in favour of basing yourself in the commuter belt as a trainee:

1) It’s more affordable – your money will go much further and you’ll have a nicer place, translating to a better quality of life.
2) The point above about being “extremely isolated” is nonsense. You will still go into London several days a week to be around colleagues and have post-work drinks etc.
3) The point about “all the amenities” being skewed towards families and older people is also unfair. There are fewer nightclubs and hipster craft beer bars serving soapy lager for £8 a pint. That’s the only substantial difference. And you can jump on a train into London on the weekend if you want to enjoy any of London’s cultural benefits (theatre, museums, nightclubs etc). You’d be getting the tube/an uber home even if you did live in London.
4) There is far less crime than in London. You will therefore be (and feel) safer. This also leads to a better quality of life.
5) Unless you get a flat in the City, you will have to commute via tube anyway. Some commuter belt towns have better connections to the City than certain London suburbs.

Anon

Clerkenwell

Anon

Way too expensive for a trainee. It’s like 800 a week for a 2 bed in Clerkenwell.

Assoc

I would personally look to live in London for your TC. The first six months or so is pretty tiring and it helps to be near the office. It’s also nice to feel in the thick of things and being more central will give you the opportunity to make friends and try out the London life. You don’t have to live walking distance away (I used to live within walking distance from my office in the city and it was weirdly dead at the weekends) but look for a decent tube connection and ~30 min commute – Liverpool St is obviously well connected so you have options.

The above being said, I’m a few years qualified now and not a natural Londoner (I grew up in the countryside) and I’ve now moved out of London, swapping a longer commute for a bigger house and beautiful countryside. That option is always open to you in future 🙂

Hope that helps and good luck!

Anon

Be careful with flat shares. Best to do your DD on prospective flatmates if they are strangers and to try and live with other professionals doing similar hours. Otherwise you could return to all kinds of noise and nuisance at the flat making it unable to get proper sleep with what limited time you have when you get home.

In terms of location best to live somewhere you can commute in around 30 mins to the office given higher attendance requirements as a trainee. Elizabeth line connects to Liverpool Street and is the most comfortable means of commuting so take a look at stations on that route based on your budget.

Disgruntled NQ

Not Clapham. Be better.

GoblinGroin

Lmao you goon, how else are you gotta get dat sweet sweet 2am booty call?

Jay

Romford (East London/circa Essex) is well worth considering. 20 – 30mins direct into Liverpool Street by train, Reliable train services, good amenities and relatively lively, amongst the cheapest rental costs in greater London.

Big John

Thanks Tom Skinner. A Bosh.

Kirkland NQ

Easy. A townhouse in Chelsea, obviously, with a holiday home in Nice.

Clive

Parking the Lambo on street?

Anonymous

I worked not too far from Liverpool Street and I found that most trainees seemed to like the Clapham area although I never found the appeal. Similarly trainees liked to be in the office almost every day for the social side and to support each other if needed. You will likely need to be in the office at least three times a week anyway.

Personally a 30-45 minute commute seems more ideal for me so for this reason I would say live in London within Zones 1-2. The costs of commuting on the train from outside of London will also eat into your savings on the rent. Liverpool Street is well connected and depending on what you are looking for there are a few options, I would recommend checking Citymapper for journey times from a prospective flat to the office as distance to and from a tube stop can add 10-15 minutes to a journey. I always found that Rotherhithe, Canada Water and Wapping (south of the A1203/The Highway) are nice quieter areas, with the latter being slightly more expensive but close enough to walk to work. The more central you go the more money you will pay but places like Islington and Shoreditch are well-rated but I have never lived north of the river so can’t comment on whether they are worth living in. My knowledge of West London is also limited. The DLR route often comes with newer flats but in less desirable areas and similarly I would say not to go east of Mile End on the tube map.

A flatshare is great but often you won’t know what the flatmates are like to live with until a few months after you move in. I lived with some great flatmates (albeit quite dirty) but when I started my TC I would often get left out of film nights and drinks at the pub because I would work late whilst they all finished at 5-6pm. I would suggest flat-sharing with people from similar industries in a six-month lease with no more than three flatmates. That way if that flatshare doesn’t work out then you can either look to get a small studio / one bed flat (if desired) or move in with some of your trainee cohort (if you get on well and share similar levels of cleanliness). Spareroom is a good website for finding flatshares. Similarly Meetup is a good website if you are looking to find people with similar interests in a new city.

Hope this helps and good luck with the move and TC!

Anon

Having a “dirty” flat mate may be seen as a bonus…

Regional observer

As others have said, I wouldn’t choose the commute during the start of your TC.

But regardless of work, if you’ve never lived in London and you are moving alone I’d prefer a flat share personally.

A flat share would be a good way to meet new people. Once you start the 9-5 (especially in a new city) you realise that making friends is not as easy as university. Having 1-3 flatmates will really help you have people around you and could lead to a good social circle.

If you’re living alone with a 1-2 hour commute and with a job that is long hours, you’ll likely become quite isolated as you won’t have much time to explore your local town to make new friends.

Isn’t ut obvious

You sleep in your office, take a sleeping bag and use the office showers / bathrooms. This shows a hard working ethos and a dedication to your firm. This will help you impress and get an NQ position. Combine that NQ salary with the money you saved on Accomodation in your two years as a TC, you’re set to be able to buy your first property in London.

Anon

I would have always said Clapham but there has been a concerning rise in crime there over the last couple of years.

GoblinGroin

But but Infernos

Milbanker

Highams Park.

Balham

Would have said Clapham, now quite expensive, so go for Balham.

You’ll move at 1PQE to somewhere which isn’t an effective extension of university, but for the years of your TC you’ll be happy with the familiarity.

Anon

I lived in Wapping just before and during my TC. Great neighbourhood, good pubs, big grocery store which is rare for central London (albeit it’s a big Waitrose), and generally very close to some good neighbourhoods for restaurants/bars (Shoreditch, London Bridge, Borough, Bermondsey). Handily, because it is not a popular thoroughfare it is also quite quiet compared to some areas that are equally central. I worked in Moorgate (about a 5 minute walk from Lpool Street station) and it was approx. a 45 minute walk to the office.

I got a very good deal (for London…) on rent for a 3-bed at 1900/month (split between us). If I recall, most 2-3 beds are between £2K – £2.5. I’d also recommend living with at least one other person as it can get quite lonely otherwise!

Best of luck!

Real talk

3 bed for 2.5k is a non-starter in Wapping – maybe Shadwell but that’s a different game altogether

One who knows

If with a partner, live somewhere about an hour from London, in any direction. You’ll get a much nicer house and quality of life for your money.

Bob

London Bridge / Bermondsey. Lots going on, you’ll be able to walk to the office, and reasonable prices for being so central.

Dreamer

Whitechapel. West Kensington. Finsbury Park. Peckham. Good vibes.

Egnim Yhsif

Why do so many people not like the idea of commuting for a nicer house and town?

Anon

Because it seriously limits socialising and career opportunities. Everyone who needs to rely on trains to commute always has to leave early, and is at the mercy of trains at all other times. When you’re a trainee, telling a partner who was expecting you to be in early to collate documents for a meeting that you were late due to a drivers’ strike or whatever is going on at that time is nigh on impossible.

Elite US senior

If you’re serious about your career you should live in the office.

SC NQ

I lived in Hoxton at the beginning of my TC and walked to the office. Not having to commute by train was ideal. The area is also great, with its proximity to Shoreditch and Hoxton Overground and Old Street Underground stations.

Jane

In the very old days when I was a trainee I wrote to my contact at the firm before I started asking for ideas about where to live (that seems embarrassingly silly to me now!). He politely said may be share with friends. However I had no friends in London. It is still as hard to know for people as to where to live, unless they have a group of friends from university all converging on London. For those lucky enough to have parents near London it may be a good idea to live at home for the first 2 months whilst seeing where other trainees live. Not everyone has that option.
Some people by this stage are not keen to share with strangers or even friends but salaries are not usually high enough to live right by the office and live alone.

Perhaps start by looking at what your net monthly pay will be after tax and student loan deductions and decide on that basis but generally better to be close to the office if you can manage it. Ultimately I was married (very rare for a trainee) and we lived in London underground zone 5 near my husband’s work out this way (NW London); but for those who are single they probably want to be a bit closer in. It took me about 35 mins on the tube or an hour door to door twice a day.

Susan

I moved to London for my TC. I was on my forties. I found a house share and lived around 30 mins from work by bus. It worked very well.
You will be working very long hours and therefore need to be close to the office. Being in a flat share gives you company, and can be great fun with the right people.

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