London is a fantastic city with plentiful jobs, superb restaurants, fantastic culture, great transport links and all that history. There’s nowhere like it on earth and, unsurprisingly, it’s stilling growing. Over 8 million people live here, and that figure has grown by 12% in a decade.

But … there are downsides. It’s one of the world’s most expensive cities. Not only are house prices in London the highest in the UK at an average of £392,000 (August, 2012) but house moves are also, on average, more expensive than anywhere else in Britain. Estate agents charge up to 3%. Stamp duty is at least 3% of the sale price typically, and often 4%. Overall, once all the solicitors costs, mortgage fees, conveyancing and the removals company prices are added in, the average Londoner should expect to pay £19,500 as the cost of moving house.

The good news is, there are ways to cut these prices considerably, meaning you pay a lot less than the average Londoner. Here are three pretty straightforward tips to follow. They may mean you pay an awful lot less than the £19,500 quoted in a Lloyds TSB survey, just by being a bit smart.

1. Do it yourself. Especially if you’re a first time buyer, consider doing your own house move. Getting friends and family to muck in and help you, borrowing a Transit type van and getting free boxes from shops and supermarkets will make the move almost free of charge. OK, you still need to make sure you’re insured and there’s the petrol – not to mention the hard work – but you could save more than £1000. It also gives you the flexibility to move when you like, even on a Sunday when traffic is quieter.

If you have the time and the confidence, there is more that you can do yourself. You don’t HAVE to use an estate agent at all: with marketing skills, a good camera and a flair for design, plus the internet, you may be able to sell your home independently. The same goes for conveyancing. An increasing number of people are choosing to carry out a lot of the frankly simply admin, rather than paying a solicitor for it.

2. Negotiate with everyone. If you’ve read the above thinking “I just don’t have time for any of that”, and many of us don’t when working, there are still ways to knock the bill down considerably. Though house prices are still creeping up, it’s a relatively flat market. Estate agents WANT to make sales and removals companies need to have business. So don’t just accept their published rates. Estate agency commission can be negotiate down to as low as 1.25% if you’re selling. The same goes for mortgages: hunt for a fee-free mortgage and you could save several hundreds of pounds. Drive as hard a bargain as you can, because this is a buyer’s market.

3. Shop around. This is key. Don’t just reach for the Yellow Pages and call the first big name removals company you see, if you have too much or its simply impractical to move yourselves. Invest a little time and research in getting a list of twenty moving firms, large and small. Though you may want to shortlist them down, get at least five different quotes and compare them on a like for like basis.
You can do the same for solicitors and estate agents, mortgage companies and insurers.

Solicitors in London charge more per hour than those outside the city, for example. There’s absolutely nothing to stop you having a solicitor based in Scotland or Wales when you are moving in London. They do not need to be physically on site at any point.

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