Things to consider when looking for a place to live

The housing options open to you depend on your particular circumstances. This section outlines the things you should consider when you're thinking about where you want to live.

What can you afford?

If you are on a low income, you are unlikely to be able to afford to buy a home and your choice of rented accommodation may be much more limited. Council and housing association rents are usually lower than rents charged by private landlords.

You may be able to get help with paying for accommodation from Universal Credit.

You might be able to get help from deposit schemes which can help you get into private rented accommodation by providing you with a deposit or upfront.

There are some low cost home ownership schemes available if you are think about buying your own home but have a low income.

Your age

Once you are 16 years old you are legally allowed to leave home, but you may find it hard to find suitable accommodation. Make sure you find out about your housing options before you leave.

How many people are going to be living with you?

You might find it hard to find suitable accommodation if you have a large family. You may not be able to afford to rent or buy a large place. Although you may be able to apply for Universal Credit to help you pay the rent, you might be affected by the benefit cap. Councils and housing associations may have a limited number of large houses and flats available.

Do you have any health and support needs?

If you need help with day to day living (for instance if you have physical or mental health problems) you may need housing where support is provided. Or you may prefer to look at ways to get support in your existing home. If you are a disabled person, you'll need to find somewhere accessible to suit your needs.

Where do you want to live?

In some areas of the country there is much less housing available than in others. For example, your choice of housing may be much more limited if you live in the country rather than a large town or city. If you live in a rural area, the Rural Housing Service may be able to help you with your housing options. If you are applying for accommodation from the council or a registered social landlord (a housing association or housing cooperative), your likelihood of getting a place will depend on the availability of housing in your area. Some areas have much longer waiting lists than others.

How urgently you need accommodation?

If you need to move quickly, options such as home ownership or accommodation from the council or a housing association may not be available to you because of the time it takes to find or get these kinds of housing. However, some councils offer quick access to 'hard to let' properties - check your council's website to see if this is the case in your area.

Remember, if you don't have anywhere permanent to live at the moment, for example if you are sleeping on a friend's sofa or living in a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel, you may well be legally homeless - you don't have to be living on the street to be homeless. If you are homeless, your local council has a duty to help you and should offer you somewhere temporary to stay.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 19 January 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England