London - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Beautiful six bedroom home with yard in Wimbledon. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of our home. We are in a more upper working class area and not a wealthy one like many homes are but we enjoy it and have no complaints. Commute is about 45 min to one hr to work by underground. One hour drive to school for the kids. - Jan 2024

We had high-rise, apartment-style housing within a 10-minute walk to the embassy. For a couple with no children, we had a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment (~1000 sq. ft.). The unit had a separate storage unit within the building, so lack of storage wasn't really an issue for us, like it can be in some London housing. We also had a balcony with a view of the Thames. It got a bit cramped when we had visitors, but it was perfect for two of us most of the time. Battersea Park was only ~20-25 minutes to walk to, so even during the Covid lockdowns we had a nice escape to greener spaces close by. - Nov 2022

There are four of us in a three bedroom. Its definitely smaller than any townhouse in northern Virginia and things fall apart all the time. We are located in central London and love the location. My spouse bikes to work most of the time or takes the tube the other time, takes about 30 min on bike and 40 min or so on the tube. - Aug 2022

The housing pool for the US Embassy is a mixed bag. In my opinion, some folks like it and others hate it. Unfortunately, we fall into the second camp. The four of us are in a VERY small apartment. We've been in small spaces before, but because there is no storage, closets, garage, or anywhere to put out stuff it felt much worse than our place in Frankfurt that was actually a few square meters smaller. I also feel the location has been pretty bad for us as well, as we are a family with small children and we are at a noisy and busy intersection; it has been a bit soul crushing for my wife. Windows need to be closed, even in the heat of the summer, to keep out all the road noise and a twenty minute hike to the nearest patch of grass. My commute to the office is 45 minutes if the underground is working and up to an hour if I have to find another way. No parking at the US Embassy soon as the COVID special exemptions are going away. If we were to do it again, we would have sent out kids to school south of the river and requested housing in an area like Putney. The good news is, if you are without kids the housing south of the river appears to be very nice and the neighborhoods are improving everyday as construction on this new part of town finishes up. - May 2022

We have a large attached house with garage, provided by the school where my husband works. The large, leafy campus is a playground for our kids, and a respite from big city life. It is significantly better housing than we could afford on the open market. American friends of ours live in a two-story freestanding house with a small garden. Most UK houses are smaller than what Americans are used to, and have far less storage. - Jun 2017

We live in a spacious high rise, south of the Thames in Putney. We're the first people to live in our flat, which is in a brand new building right next to the tube and approximately 1100 sq ft. We have three bedrooms, a skyline view of London, a built in wine fridge, Nespresso machine, a balcony that runs the length of the flat, and an abundance of closet space. This is standard for those embassy employees without children, as it is close to the new Embassy in the Battersea/Vauxhall area. Those with children will still be housed in flats and townhouse in the St. John's Wood area, which is close to the American school. Commute to the new Embassy from Putney is about 20 minutes, and about 40 minutes from SJW, all on public transport. - Feb 2017

USG housing is spread out throughout many neighborhoods, and this will change further when the new embassy opens in Jan 2017. - Feb 2016

I live in student accommodation. It's hellishly expensive (think New York x 1.5), but my rent includes all my utilities, internet, plus use of a gym, so I figure that it evens out. I could have gotten accommodation closer to my university for a lower price, but it had fewer amenities and apparently there were problems with roaches and faulty appliances. I live about 30 minutes by Tube away from my school, which I actually prefer because it means I get to see less central, touristy parts of the city. - Nov 2015

The housing pool is shifting. I was one of the first to move south of the river closer to the new Embassy (opening June 2017, last I heard). Southwest London was really lovely. Parks, grocery stores, pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants... I was 4 blocks from the river. Commute time was 45 minutes (yuck) on the Tube to the old building. It will be more like 25 minutes to the new building. - Aug 2015

Housing is all over the city, so commutes ranged from 10 minutes to an hour. I believe they're slowly moving housing closer to the location of the new embassy, but I imagine they'll keep some of the existing housing because of proximity to the international school. Housing ranges from very small to fairly large. Be really specific about your priorities when you fill out the housing survey. - Jun 2015

Every housing type you can imagine...small apartments, large apartments, townhouses, regular houses. - Jun 2015

In transition... Mostly flats and townhouses. Aside from our own, the flats seem to be much more spacious that I expected. Townhouses are tall and narrow with lots of stairs. Housing is a mix of USG owned and leased. A few families live in houses further from the city (Golder's Green, Putney). Housing is beginning to transition more to Putney (south of the river) in preparation of the new embassy. - May 2015

Flats aka apartments, mostly. We lived in almost central London. Our flat was awesome. Had a garden behind that the block shared. We had a few celebs that lived on it too. It was surreal at times. I thought we'd live in a shoe box but was pleasantly surprised at the size of our flat. Hubby could get to work in 20 min by bus. We lived near a tube stop and could get anywhere in about 20 minutes. We were 1 mile from either of the large parks, Regents and Hyde. - Aug 2014

I was incredibly fortunate with my fifteen minute walk to work in Central London. The Canadian High Commission has a variety of housing in various locations through London for different family sizes. - Sep 2012

I've only heard one person complain about their housing. As long as you come knowing you aren't going to have a big space, you won't be disappointed. Most families live in the same area of town. My commute from my front door to the Embassy door is 30 minutes, using public transportation. It really isn't that bad! - Jan 2012

Typically small flats, but convenient to central London. Transport is pretty good. Embassy housing is decent. - Aug 2011

Small and very expensive - if you stay in the outskirts of the city you'll have more space and lower rent but longer commute times. My flat was about a quarter the size of one I had in DC, and nearly double the rent. - Nov 2009

It completely varies. There are embassy-owned buildings, and various leased housing around the city. Single people and couples without children general get the smaller flats. There are larger houses out in Golders Green and smaller flats in Marylebone and Swiss Cottage. Some folks completely luck out and get gorgeous townhomes in envious locations. Its really all luck of the draw with the housing board. Locations are: Marylebone, Maida Vale, Bayswater, Knightbridge, Swiss Cottage, St. John's Wood, Hampstead Heath and Golders Green. I'm sure there are other smatterings of places, but mostly on the Central to West areas of the city. Commute times vary from 15 minute walk to 1.5 hours by bus and tube. The British housing also has little to no storage space. Most to not have decent closets to store items, including closet space in the bedrooms. - Mar 2009

Housing is small for the most part, but the further you are from central London the bigger the homes get. Commute times vary. Embassy personnel commute times can be anything from a few minutes walk to an hour using public transportation and walking. - Sep 2008

Apartments. I had a gorgeous, large apartment in the recently gentrified area of Wapping. Housing in London is EXPENSIVE. Many locals live in houses outside London and commute in. Those who do live within London often have TINY apartments or share with a number of people in order to afford it. Make sure the bathroom has a shower (Brits love baths) and if it has a shower, test the water pressure (it's usually quite poor). - Feb 2008

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