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Source: (consider it) Thread: Architecture Internship in London
Living in Gin

Liturgical Pyromaniac
# 2572

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Greetings, all... Emerging from lurk-mode to post another London-centric inquiry.

I'm a graduate architecture student at the University of Cincinnati, and one of the features of my program is a co-op system in which students alternate academic terms between full-time studies on campus and full-time employment in their chosen field, anywhere in the world. My first two co-op terms were with local firms here in Cincinnati, my most recent one was in Los Angeles, and I'm now making plans for my last one which will take place this summer.

Although it's a bit of a long shot given the economy, I'm hoping to do this last co-op in London. I was wondering if any Shipmates are architects in London, or know people who are? If so, I'd be very interested in hearing from you. In addition to making connections, I'm also interested in the practice of architecture in the UK compared to what I'm used to here in the US. (I'm a bit of a nontraditional student, and already have a number of years of professional experience on this side of the pond. The academic program I'm now in is roughly equivalent to RIBA Part 2 in the UK.)

More generally, one of the big reasons I'm interested in doing this last co-op in London is to test the waters for possibly relocating there permanently after I finish my M.Arch. degree next year. I know the cost of living in London is obscene and that the employment situation for architects in the UK is still terrible (as it is almost everywhere), and I also know that getting a visa and becoming professionally registered as an architect in the UK pose significant challenges. So this isn't a choice I'd be making lightly, but it's something I've been considering off and on for well over a decade now.

While I'm able to find average salary figures and rental listings online, I'm having a harder time trying to find out some other budget-related information, such as council tax, typical monthly costs for utilities and internet service, etc. What is considered a good rule of thumb for figuring out how much you can afford to pay in rent, based on your salary? For example, in New York City, landlords expect your gross annual salary (before taxes) to be at least 40 times your monthly rent. Is there a similar guideline specific to London?

I may have other questions as this thread progresses... Thanks in advance for your help!

It's all fun and games until somebody gets burned at the stake.

Posts: 1893 | From: Cincinnati, USA | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

Like as the
# 4991

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50% of takehome going on rent isn't unusual, especially early in a career, in London.

Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

Posts: 8164 | From: Notre Dame, IN | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged
# 58

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Council tax can vary widely according to which local council sets it. You'll usually find the rates for the current year on their websites. Band A is the lowest - bedsits, one-bed flats, that sort of thing.

Don't forget to think about travel expenses; you may need an Oyster Card to get around.

If you have any idea what your salary is likely to be you could try this Salary Calculator to give you an idea of disposable income. I've found it useful.

Utility bills will vary depending on your provider and how much you use. Renting any place with a coin meter for electricity is going to treble your bills, though. I suggest as a very rough estimate, setting aside £20 for water, £65 for electricity, £100 for the council tax - all per month; add in your travel costs and then see how much disposable income you have left and make a decision about rent based on that.

If you spend more than half on rent you will need to live very frugally, probably be stressed out by it, and will miss out on the things that London has to offer. I fell into a similar trap years ago where I was able to wander round and see all the facilities the city I was in had to offer, but not able to afford to make use of most of them. Ideally it should be no more than a third of your disposable income, though that isn't always practical...

Posts: 25445 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
# 4493

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There is also a balance to be struck between rent and travel. It is cheaper to live in the suburbs but then yo have to take into account the time and money spent travelling in to the centre.

I am contemplating doing similar calculations myself fairly soon

"Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow." R. H. Tawney (quoted by Isaiah Berlin)

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin

Posts: 1877 | From: England | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
# 3882

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Living In Gin - I have sent you a PM.

I am uneasy with the concept of Internship - it seems to me to be a lot more encouraging if we pay people for the job they do. There are issues in the UK such as minimum wage - when I started in architecture I needed to be paid as I didn't have any other income. Mind you even then (in 1978) I met someone who was practically indentured to an architect.
I am sure there are others on the ship who know more about the legalities of not paying people.

"The first principle in science is to invent something nice to look at and then decide what it can do." Rowland Emett 1906-1990

Posts: 1172 | From: Montgomeryshire, Wales | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Living in Gin

Liturgical Pyromaniac
# 2572

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Thanks for the info so far... This is very helpful.

Just to clarify, I would expect this to be a paid position, as I have big problems with the whole idea of unpaid internships in general, and I wouldn't be able to afford an unpaid position anyway. I already have quite a few years worth of experience in the profession, so I would hope that I can contribute at least as much to an employer's objectives as they contribute to mine. The average hourly wage for somebody in my co-op program is about $15 (£9.50), but that includes large numbers of students who have very little experience, and who are working locally in Cincinnati and other Midwestern cities where the cost of living is peanuts compared to places like NYC and London. For a position in London, I would be asking for something quite a bit north of that number.

If I were to end up in London, I'd likely also be facing the dilemma of commute distance vs. size of flat. Based on average salary figures for architects with my level of experience, it looks like I'd be able to afford either a small studio or share situation in Zone 2, or a larger flat further out that would require a longer commute. Given the choice, I'd most likely go with the former. I still carry my Oyster card from my 2011 visit in my wallet, and it may even still have a few quid left on it, so at least I've got that covered. [Smile]

It's all fun and games until somebody gets burned at the stake.

Posts: 1893 | From: Cincinnati, USA | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

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