Zak's Survival Pack - English language guide - Free course


Part 1. How to find a flat (apartment) in London or one of the big cities in England.

london skyline. english course. zak washington

Complete the following exercise putting the verbs in brackets into either gerund or infinitive.


If you don’t understand the housing situation in England, you risk ____________ (lose) a lot of money. First, you must realise that accommodation is very expensive in the big cities, and if you don’t have a high paying job, you probably won’t be able to afford ___________ (live) in many fashionable parts of town. So I would recommend ___________ (start) by finding a fairly cheap place, until you get a good job. Alternatively, if you don’t mind ____________ (do) hotel work, you could find both at the same time. What I mean ____________ (say), is that you can find a job and a place to live at the same time, in some hotels. Anybody who wants __________ (find) this type of hotel work, with accommodation included, should look for a live-in job. You should expect ____________ (find) many other foreign students too, as work in the catering and service industries is usually done by people from other countries. You can hope ____________ (improve) your Spanish and Portuguese, as well as learning English!

Search Engine Key Words: live-in, hotel and catering, chambermaid, kitchen porter, waiter, waitress, chef, casual work, temporary work.


When you first arrive.

If you don’t know anybody when you first arrive in Britain, you can consider ____________ (stay) in several possible places. It’s no use __________ (go) to a ‘normal’ hotel, as you probably haven’t got much money and you won’t be able to afford __________ (stay) more than a few days. Finding good accommodation involves __________ (spend) a lot of time and having much patience, especially if you are looking in the capital. You should decide __________ (look for) one of the following: a cheap hostel, Hosteling International (called International Hostel before), AirBnB, or a bed and breakfast. If you choose ___________ (go) to a cheap hostel, you will find many young, foreign students in the same position as you, and you’ll probably have lots of fun. You may wish __________ (try) your luck in a bed and breakfast, which is a type of hostel/cheap hotel that offers rooms for the night, plus a breakfast the next morning. Before you consider _________ (stay) in one of these places, find out from a friend what it’s like first. The quality of these places differs enormously. They might turn out __________ (be) really lovely, clean, with nice friendly owners and a great breakfast. On the other hand, some bed and breakfasts try __________ (take advantage) of foreigners, tourists, and the social security, who pay them to accommodate unemployed people. If you end up __________ (live) in one of these places, you might have a lot of problems, because they have a very bad reputation.


Looking for something more permanent.

Anyway, once you are established in one of these temporary residences, you should start ____________ (look) for a normal flat, or house. It is recommended __________ (look) in local newspapers, and the papers that specialise in small advertisements. I would suggest __________ (consult) the Gumtree website. Also try __________ (look) in the local evening papers, such as London’s Evening Standard. Avoid ___________ (go) to special flat agencies, as these are very expensive, and usually charge a large commission.

Let’s look at the different types of rented accommodation. A bedsit (bed sitting room) is the smallest, and often the worst type of place to rent. You can expect __________ (find) a bed sitting room that will be one room with everything in it; bed, armchair, furniture and kitchen facilities. You could consider ____________ (live) with other people. This would be in flat-share, or a house-share. One of the most economical ways to live is to organise a group of friends, and look for a whole house to rent between you. To do this you will need ________  (go) to an estate agency, which is a shop or office that specialises in selling and renting houses and flats. You could also choose _________ (become) a lodger. This would involve ________ (live) in a family house, in an extra room that they have, and possibly eating meals with them. This is a fairly cheap option, and would, of course, be very good for your English.

What the advertisements mean.

Newspaper advertisements can be difficult to understand, so you’ll have to learn ____________ (read) the abbreviations properly. GCH means gas central heated, so this flat will be warm and the bills will be small. MNS/FNS means that you need __________ (be) a male or female non-smoker. No DHS (Department of Health and Social Security) means that the owner doesn’t want ____________ (rent out) his flat to unemployed people. PCM means per calendar month, GFF is a ground floor flat, and FFF is a first floor flat. My advice is to look at absolutely everything! Sometimes the advertisements sound terrible and then the flat ends up _________ (be) lovely, and vice versa. Be patient, and if it’s in London that you’re looking for, good luck!



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