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Flats outside London

Hi, everyone,

I just joined this forum! My wife, Pat, and I are planning a long visit (6 months or more) to the UK in 2021. We have been to the UK several times before and last visited for 3 weeks in 2016, where we stayed in hotels and Air BNB places for 2-3 days at a time. This trip is going to be longer, so we're planning on staying long-term in a 2-bedroom flat either in the country or in a smaller city. We'll be looking for furnished flats and will likely start somewhere on or near the South Coast.

Are there any pitfalls or challenges for a non-resident to be able to short-term lease property - such as needing an in-country address or insurance? We will likely want to lease an inexpensive car, as well, and I know that buying a cheap used car is about impossible for non-residents.

Anyone else from the States who has travelled like this?



Posted by
5191 posts

Are there any pitfalls or challenges for a non-resident to be able to short-term lease property

If you are planning to stay more than 6 months, you will need a visa so you will need to check that out to determine a realistic trip length.

Without a visa, you will likely be limited to vacation rentals. I suspect it would be very difficult to rent a ”normal” flat without a residence visa and a U.K. bank account. When I was an expat in London, my company took out the lease and I am pretty sure it would have been quite difficult for me to lease an apartment on my own when I first arrived (and I did arrive with a 3-year work visa). I needed to open a UK bank account so that I could pay for utilities such as cable and internet, get a TV licence, etc. To open an account with a UK bank, I had to have a letter of reference from my employer in addition to my work visa.

It would help to know how long this planned trip is for.

Anything less than six months will probably limit you to holiday accommodation, which tends to be priced by week and pretty expensive - although you could probably negotiate a deal for a longer stay.

Over six months and you’re into residential letting and you’ll need references, probably UK address, job or bank details etc. And there’s generally a hefty deposit of at least a month’s rental.

For leasing a car, I suspect you’ll need a UK address and insurance history.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks, to both of you. I had suspected that trying to rent a flat, long-term, would result in the complications you mentioned. We are planning on 6-9 months in the UK (buying an additional 3 months or interspersing Ireland between). I am an estate agent in the US but don't know the rules there. I'm guessing that I could probably find some AirBNB's that will let by the month and that's probably as good as it will get.

We may end up hiring a car occasionally and trying to get around via rail, etc. We do plan on doing a considerable amount of walking, as well. Shorter stays in one place will let us explore more throughly from different areas. We are planning on more time in Wales and Scotland, as well.

We will be renting our house here in NC, as well and we'd be amenable to exchanges (I know - different site).

Anyway, we've got a year and a half to work these things out.


Posted by
5 posts

Screen name is w1es.

Our stuff will be in storage, so not really that concerned.

Posted by
3380 posts

Many Airbnb rentals give good rates on long stays...some up to 30-40% of their nightly price. Just find a few that look good to you and send them a message to see what they can do for you. We stayed in an Airbnb for 3 weeks once and were given a nice discount since they were happy to have it consistently filled for that long. Be careful what you say at immigration - if they think you are getting close to their 6-month limit they may really push back on letting you enter the country. Be sure you have all of your documentation and paperwork for flights, Airbnb rentals, etc., so that they can see that your stay is truly limited to less than what you are allowed.
Have you thought about home exchange? That's an easy way to get around the rental problem and it's definitely cheaper. We regularly stay in Europe for 5-9 weeks at a time by doing this. There are plenty of people who want to exchange for months at a time...worth looking into!