Housing is a huge topic in London. The city is famously expensive and the Grenfell Tower tragedy has served to highlight the inadequacy of its accommodation for the least advantaged. If you’re an intern an investment bank you’re already one of the privileged few, but you’ll also have 10 to 12 weeks in which living quarters are going to be the last thing on your mind. So, where do you stay when work finally ends?
The answer, according many of the interns we’ve spoken to, is “with your parents”. A surprisingly high number of investment banks’ summer analysts in London are either Londoners or from the London suburbs – and as is typical of the new cost-conscious attitude among young bankers, they’re not about to spend their money on rent.
“I’m just living at home and commuting in and out,” one typical intern tells us. “It’s much easier that way. A lot of interns do this now.”
European interns clearly don’t have this option. However, banks will help, to a degree.
Banks in London don’t actually arrange accommodation for their summer analysts. This level of provision is reserved for spring interns, who are typically first year university students and considered less able to fend for themselves. By the time you’re a second or third year student and a summer analyst, you’re expected to make your own arrangements, which banks will subsidize.
Some banks are more generous than others. At Barclays, for example, summer analysts are given £2k ($2.6k) to cover accommodation during their nine week internships (graduates at Barclays are offered £6k to get settled when they join full-time). Elsewhere, the rate varies between £1k and £2k. Interns aren’t obliged to spend this money on living costs – those who stay with their parents are able to save it up or spend it on a post-internship holiday (hence the incentive to linger at home).
When interns live in rented accommodation, banks usually provide a reference and act as the guarantor of their rent. Favourite banking intern hangouts include Liberty Court in Clerkenwell or Claredale House in London’s Bethnal Green. Claredale boasts its popularity with interns at UBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital and charges from £171 to £183 a week. (It was here that Bank of America intern Moritz Erhardt was staying when he died in 2014). Interns with more money, or a more generous living allowance, are more likely to choose Pure City London. Based in the Barbican and costing from £265 to £470 a week, Pure City tells us it has interns from “all industries” staying during the summer months.
Although you might blow all your allowance – and maybe more – paying for accommodation instead of staying in your childhood bedroom, interns who’ve splashed out say it’s worth it. “If you want to be in the office at 6.30am or 7am and you’re living an hour away with your parents, you’re going to need to get up at 4.30am,” says one. “You’re going to have a long commute and a lack of sleep, and neither will help you secure a long term job.”
As for the social scene in the intern accommodation, there is none: “Most people come back to their apartment/room and sleep,” one intern says.