A cost that takes many by surprise upon moving to London is the Council Tax.  Basically, this is a property tax that you unfortunately are required to pay even if you are only renting.  I rent a condo back home out to tenants and would never consider passing on the burden of my property taxes to them, but you can certainly not expect this same courtesy from your landlord.

The tax can range from several hundred to a couple thousand GBP depending on what band your property value falls into, these ‘bands’ being dictated by the particular borough you live in.  You will need to consult your particular borough’s website for specific information, but, just as an example, here is that provided for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea:   http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/councilanddemocracy/counciltax/bandvalues.aspx

For more detailed information on the Council Tax, you can consult the Directgov or Adviceguide websites:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/YourlocalcouncilandCouncilTax/CouncilTax/index.htm

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/life/tax/council_tax.htm

If you are a STUDENT, you may qualify for a council tax exemption or discount.  Generally, if every tenant in your flat is a full-time student, your household should be exempt.  Consult the website below to ensure you meet full-time status.  If so, you need to contact your borough with a copy of your signed lease and letter from your school verifying your enrolment.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/LifeAtUniversityOrCollege/DG_071488

If paying in one lump sum is not feasible or desirable, establish a payment plan that breaks it down into smaller periodic increments.  Yes, it is taxing to think about (pun fully intended), but the mindset to adopt is that we’re all in the trenches together on this one; it’s just another of those inevitable realities that come with moving to another country.