How can we help new comers settle down in London ?
The population of London is growing, so as the working population :
- 263,857 working visas issued in 2016
- Population reaching 9.3 million by 2021
- Employment growth of +6% by 2012
PROBLEM : Settling down in London hasn't been easy however. Expats usually don't start on flat hunting until they arrive @ London which is causing them alot of stress because of the heavy workload. Therefore they need to change this by a front-end loading strategy, meaning they should start working on it as soon as the decision of coming to London is made.
Insights to design principles
Throughout my research, not only I discovered how emotionally stressful and exhaustive it is to flat hunt in London. I also unearthed the reasons of the complexity of the system behind with banking & insurance companies involved - there is a lack of trust in the system and therefore the most important task is to build trust. The entire experience is leading to a disappointment to the London city. I therefore transform these insights into my design principles - with the renter (new-comer), at the centre of my design. I designed a service that offers an integrated rental service with a streamlined process, professional guidance and curated offerings.
For expats who are coming to London and new to the city, SETTLE is an integrated service that would help them rent a property which match their needs. Unlike other estate agents, SETTLE would offer guidance from day one when they decide to move ; educate, prepare & assist them throughout the entire rental process.
How SETTLE works
The whole service is about information building by renters. Renters are encouraged to build their profile within the system so estate agents and landlord will not only see them as a renter but a professional individual as well. Verifications of documentations also take place in this profile building process as renters need to be qualified in order to get connected with landlords / letting agents and they need to be 100% qualified to place an offer in any property. This also help to improve the efficiency of the rental process for both renters & landlords / letting agents. Since everyone has different needs in finding their homes - there will also be a need assessment so they can be more specific at their selection criteria. These information will be very useful as the variables for the algorithms in their property selection at a later stage, SETTLE will suggest a good variety of property that matches their needs instead of giving them an ocean of property choices which often foreigners find it difficult to start. There will also be tips and knowledge about living & renting in London as not everyone is familiar with living in London.
SETTLE is also about connecting the right people together. It's about building trust and communications. It's also about giving everyone a voice as many landlords, agents and renters want to be recognised. It is connecting good people with good properties together.
Having a viable business model makes SETTLE sensible. Key sources of income of the service will be commissions from landlords, letting agents upon offer acceptance in their property rental. There will also be a small service fee for renters as the verification process of their "right to rent" would incurred external costs too. Speaking of which, having a rental contract means it can open alot of doors for renters as they would be the ideal new customers for banks and other services e.g. telecommunications, gym, healthcare etc, meaning there could be alot of marketing / cross promotions across different platforms.