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The Essential House-Hunting Vocab Guide for English Learners

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Are you moving to an English-speaking country to work or study? If so, one of the first things you’ll need to do is find somewhere to live!

Depending on which country you move to, you will come across slightly different words or phrases used to describe different types of housing and living arrangements. In this blog post, we’ll talk you through some of the most common vocabulary you will need when looking to rent somewhere to live, rather than buying a house of your own.

Before we get started, note that apartment and flat mean the same thing, but apartment is more commonly used in the US and Canada, while flat is used more in the UK.

Available flats / apartments are usually advertised with a sign, advert or online post that says “for rent”, “for lease” or “to let”.

Sharing or Living Alone?

Probably the first decision you will make is whether you want to live by yourself or with other people.

Living On Your Own

Living by yourself is usually a lot more expensive, but you might prefer to have your own space and privacy. People who live alone usually look for a one-bedroom flat, studio flat or bedsit.

A studio flat is one open-plan room that combines a bedroom and kitchen / dining room, with a private bathroom attached. A bedsit is a bit smaller (enough room for a bed and somewhere to sit!), and you normally share the bathroom with other people in the building.

You might also choose to rent a bedroom in someone’s house, where the person or family that own the house live there, too. This is called being a lodger.

Living with Other People

If you are moving to a new city with friends or family members, you can just look for a house or flat with the right number of bedrooms!

However, if you don’t know anyone, that means you will need to find a room in a house or flat where one person is moving out. In this case, look out for adverts that say “flatmate wanted” (or, in the US, “roommate wanted”), or something like: “room available in shared house”.

The Contract

Your contract or lease / rental agreement is the paperwork that you (the tenant, meaning the person that lives in the house) and your landlord (the person who owns the property) both need to sign to show that you agree to all the terms.

The terms of the agreement means the things that you agree to do / to not do, and the things that your landlord agrees to do. For example, it might say in your contract that you can’t keep pets in your property, or that your landlord needs to give you 24 hours’ notice before visiting the property.

Usually, you also pay a deposit when you move in. Typically this is the same amount as a month’s rent, and your landlord gives it back when you move out.

If you break the terms of the contract (for example, you damage the property in some way), your landlord might refuse to give back your deposit, or they will subtract the cost of fixing the damage and give you back the rest.

Usually a rental contract is for six months or a year, and your landlord can’t increase the rent amount until the end of the contract. When it runs out, you can move out or (usually) renew for another six months / a year.

Extra Costs

Lastly, remember to check your contract and ask your landlord or the letting agency (the company that advertises the flat or house) about extra costs.

Usually, the rent does not include your bills ( things like electricity, water and WiFi), or, in the UK, your council tax, which is an extra payment you must make to the local government each month or year. This can be quite expensive depending on where you live. You will probably also have to pay extra fees to the letting agent.

Once you’ve agreed on all of this and you’ve signed your contract, you’re ready to pick up the keys and move in. Home, sweet home!

Looking to improve your English to help you settle in? Take a look at our range of courses at www.Eurocentres.com