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Housing Options for Gambian Expat Workers in the UK - Renting vs Buying

14 Jun 2023

Housing options for Gambian expat workers in the UK vary greatly depending on personal preference and budget. The most common options include renting a flat, sharing a house with other expats, or buying a property. Each option has its pros and cons and should be carefully considered based on individual needs and circumstances. Managing residence in the UK is one of the most critical needs for Gambian expats who come here to earn better and send money to Gambia to support their families financially.


The following guide provides valuable information on different types of residences, i.e., renting, sharing or buying your own house/apartment etc., in the UK. It will help you decide which options suit your needs the best, so keep reading.


Residence Options for the Gambian Expats in the UK


Typically, the two most common residence options for expats in the UK are renting or buying an apartment or house. Let’s briefly look at these two and find out which one is the best.

Renting in the UK

As a Gambian expat worker in the UK, you may be considering renting a flat to live in. In this note, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to rent a flat in the UK, including the costs involved, what to look for when choosing a flat, and how to go about the rental process.


Cost of Renting a Flat

The cost of renting a flat in the UK varies depending on location, size, and type of property. Generally, rents in London are higher compared to other parts of the country. On average, a one-bedroom flat in London costs between £900 to £1,500 per month. Meanwhile, rents for a two-bedroom flat in other parts of the UK can be as low as £400 per month.


What to Look for in a Flat

When choosing a flat, it’s essential to consider your personal needs and requirements. Some factors to consider include the following:

  • Location: Choose a flat that is close to your workplace, public transportation, and local amenities such as supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants.
  • Size: Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need and whether the flat has enough space to accommodate your belongings.
  • Furnishing: Some flats come furnished, while others are unfurnished. If you prefer a furnished flat, make sure to check the quality of the furniture and appliances provided.
  • Maintenance: Check if the flat has proper insulation, heating, and hot water systems in good working order.

If you decide on your residence in the UK wisely, you can cut your expenses significantly and transfer more funds back home to the Gambia. You can also save enough on every money transfer to Gambia from the UK if you use a trusted service provider like ACE Money Transfer.


The Rental Process

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to rent a flat in the UK:


  • Search for Flats: You can use online portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, or Gumtree to find available flats in your preferred location. You can also use a letting agent, who can help you find a flat that matches your requirements.
  • Schedule Viewings: Once you’ve found a few potential flats, schedule a viewing with the landlord or agent. During the viewing, take note of any issues or concerns you have about the flat.
  • Negotiate the Rent: Once you’ve decided on a flat, you can negotiate the rent with the landlord or agent. Make sure to agree on the rent amount, security deposit, and other charges, such as utility bills.
  • Complete the Application Form: To secure the flat, you’ll need to complete a rental application form and provide proof of your identity and income. You’ll also need to pay a security deposit, which is usually equivalent to one month’s rent.
  • Sign the Tenancy Agreement: Once your application has been approved, you’ll need to sign a tenancy agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the rental.
  • In conclusion, renting a flat in the UK can be a straightforward process, but it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re getting the right flat at the right price. By following these steps, you can ensure that you have a smooth and stress-free rental experience in the UK.


Sharing a House

Sharing a house is a popular option for Gambian expat workers in the UK. This is because it provides an affordable and practical way to live in the UK while working and saving money. However, it is important to be informed and aware of the responsibilities, expectations and benefits of sharing a house.

The Benefits of Sharing a House:

  • Sharing a house with other Gambian expat workers can provide a sense of community and support. This is especially helpful for those who are far away from home and may be feeling homesick.
  • Sharing the cost of rent, utilities, and household items can significantly reduce living expenses.
  • Sharing a house also provides opportunities to learn from others and to make new friends.

The Responsibilities of Sharing a House:

  • All occupants are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and upkeep of the shared spaces, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and common areas.
  • Everyone should respect the privacy and belongings of their roommates.
  • Rent and utility payments should be made on time and in full, with all expenses divided equally among the occupants.
  • Communication is key to a successfully shared living situation. Any concerns or issues should be discussed openly and in a respectful manner.


  • All occupants should expect to live in a clean and safe environment.
  • All occupants should expect to be treated with respect and to have their privacy respected.
  • All occupants should expect to be able to use the shared spaces, such as the kitchen and bathroom, without interference.
  • All occupants should expect to be able to live in a quiet and peaceful environment.

Gambian expatriate workers in the UK can use ACE Money Transfer to send money to Gambia online to their loved ones. ACE is a trusted provider of international money transfer services and offers competitive exchange rates, low fees, and a fast and secure transfer process. To use ACE, the sender needs to create an account, specify the recipient information and the amount to be sent, and make the payment using a debit or credit card. 


Buying: for Gambian Expat Workers in the UK

As a Gambian expat worker in the UK, buying goods and services can be a challenge due to the differences in culture, currency, and the buying process. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, you can easily navigate the UK market and find the best products at the most affordable prices.


Here are some tips to help you buy effectively in the UK:

  1. Know your budget: Before you start shopping, determine how much money you are willing to spend and stick to it. Having a budget will help you make informed buying decisions and avoid overspending.
  2. Research products: Research the products you want to buy, including their features, prices, and availability. You can use online shopping platforms like Amazon or read product reviews to make an informed decision.
  3. Compare prices: Don't just buy the first product you see. Take the time to compare prices and check for discounts or promotions at different stores. This will help you get the best value for your money.
  4. Use a debit card: UK banks offer debit cards that you can use to make purchases. This is a convenient and secure way to buy goods, as your purchases are deducted directly from your account.
  5. Know the conversion rate: The UK uses the Pound Sterling as its currency, which may be different from the currency used in Gambia. Be aware of the exchange rate and use a currency converter to calculate the cost of your purchases in your local currency.
  6. Be aware of the sales tax: In the UK, Value Added Tax (VAT) is added to the price of most goods and services. Make sure you are aware of this tax and factor it into your budget.
  7. Use online shopping platforms: Online shopping platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Tesco Direct offer a wide range of products at competitive prices. This is a convenient way to shop, as you can compare prices, read product reviews, and make purchases from the comfort of your own home.
  8. Check the return policy: Before you make a purchase, check the store's return policy. Make sure you understand the conditions under which you can return the product if it's not suitable.

What Should You Choose - Renting, Sharing, or Buying?

The choice between renting, sharing or buying a property in the UK depends on the individual's financial situation, personal preference, and lifestyle. Gambian expat workers in the UK should weigh the pros and cons of both options before making a decision. Regardless of choice, it is essential to seek the advice of a professional to ensure that the decision is financially sound. Once you’ve decided and got settled with the best residential option, you must also look for the ideal way to transfer funds as it impacts your financial stability. Making an economical, secure, and swift online money transfer to Gambia from the UK via ACE Money Transfer is recommended since most Gambian expatriates trust its services.



What are the primary housing options available for Gambian expat workers in the UK?

Gambian expats in the UK typically choose between renting, sharing and buying property. Renting options include private rentals of apartments or houses, as well as shared accommodations. Buying a property is another option, but it usually requires a more substantial financial commitment and a longer-term stay in the country.

What are the requirements for Gambian expats to rent a property in the UK?

To rent a property in the UK, you typically need to provide proof of income or employment, a valid ID or passport, and references from previous landlords or your employer. A deposit and the first month's rent are usually required upfront. The "Right to Rent" check, which verifies your legal status to stay in the UK, may also be conducted.


Can Gambian expats buy property in the UK?

Yes, there are no legal restrictions on foreigners, including Gambian expats, buying property in the UK. However, buying property can be a complex process involving securing a mortgage (if necessary), paying stamp duty land tax, and handling other legalities, so it may be helpful to engage a solicitor or real estate agent.


What is the average cost of renting versus buying a property in the UK for Gambian expats?

Property prices can vary greatly across the UK. The average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre was about £750-£800 per month, while buying a similar property could cost upwards of £200,000, about 2 years ago. Please note these prices fluctuate depending on the city and property market trends.


What are some pros and cons of renting vs buying a property for Gambian expat workers in the UK?

Renting offers flexibility requires less upfront capital, and eliminates concerns about property maintenance or market fluctuations. However, it doesn't provide long-term security or investment growth. Buying can be a good long-term investment and provides stability and the freedom to modify the property, but it requires a significant financial commitment and ties you to one location. Consider your financial situation, career plans, and lifestyle needs when deciding.


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