Living Away From Home

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

In June last year I finally decided to put my adult boots on and move out of my Dad's house. Myself and my friend Lauren moved into a little two bedroom flat in North West London. This came with complications - those of which included having to find, view, secure and move into a new property in just 72 hours when our original fell through just before our moving date - and with my lease coming to an end in two months, I am back to this stressful process of moving again.

Before you've moved out you don't really get the big deal; how difficult can it be to just move your belongings from one place to the other and just carry on with life? That's how naive I was, until I realised how difficult it would be to just find a place that isn't just a Harry Potter style cupboard under the stairs for £800 pcm.

There are so many factors to think about when looking for your own place, so i've put together a little "checklist" if you like, of things to consider when you're taking the plunge.

Budget. This is an obvious one that most points will fall under, but have a budget for how much outgoings you will have, and remember this isn't just rent. Most rented properties - especially those that aren't house shares - will not include your bills. If you have X amount for your rent, remember you will also have X amount for council tax, water, gas, electricity, tv license and internet. Then remember any potential bills you have outside of your home, like your phone contract, travel, and Netflix.

Location. Know the area you're moving to. A lot of people move away from their parents house just to move out, but have a solid idea of where you want to go. Write a list. A broad search of just 'London' on RightMove will bring up a hideous amount of properties which you will waste your time sifting through the crack dens and the mansions. My biggest thing is thinking about transport links; I want to be walking distance from a tube, so my searches consist of multiple tries within 1 mile from each station i'm searching. If you are in London, remember it's set out into Zones and the closer you are to Zone 1, the more expensive property is. However, remember the further out you are then the more expensive your travel will be, so weigh up the pros and cons.

Deposit. 99% of rented properties will require a deposit. This is usually 6 weeks rent and is payable before you've moved into the property. You will receive this money back when you move out of the property, granted everything is still in working order and you haven't incurred any damages. Be sure to take photos of the property - especially any existing damage - as soon as you move in, so you can refer to these when you move out and don't get charged for this. Remember that if you are moving out of a rented property into another rented property, you will need to put down another deposit before you have received your previous deposit back, so if you don't have a wad of savings, look into zero interest credit cards that will allow you to pay a new deposit until you receive the last one.

Pets. If you have a beloved cat or dog, be prepared to have a harder search for property. Most landlords will not allow pets into their property through fear of damage, smell and disruption for neighbours. However, do not be put off by properties that advertise as "no pets" - view the place, and if you like it, enquire with the agent if the landlord is flexible with this term. Some landlords will allow it should you pay an increased deposit of 8 weeks rather than 6. I would never recommend hiding a pet from a landlord as they have every right to kick you out of their property at any time should you disobey their rules. Be honest, and/or be prepared to leave your puppy with your 'rents.

Removals. You may think that you don't have much stuff to move, but when you start clearing things out you'll realise just how much shit you have accumulated - especially if you're moving from your childhood home! Once you have managed to sift through all your crap and condense it down, I recommend Any Van which is a great "meet in the middle" removal service. They won't disassemble/assemble furniture or pack up your boxes for you, but they will transport your furniture and boxes from A to B at flexible and reasonable rates. They base their price on the amount you need to move and the distance. Packaging 2 Buy is also a great website for all your moving boxes needs!

Check appliances. When you go to view property, it's very easy to just take it for what you see and forget about things that later become a problem. You don't want to spend your lease back and forth with your landlord, so the best condition it is in to start with, the better. But remember, if there is something wrong with your living environment, it is the landlords responsibility to sort it, so if your boiler breaks down in the winter, that is their job and expense - that is the one up-side to renting! Anyway, check things like door closures, the shower, the lock on the front door, the fridge, taps, inside cupboards for damp. Ask where your communal bins are, is there recycling, is there parking. Ask as many questions as you have. An agent won't think you're strange for inspecting the house sufficiently, or requesting a second viewing.

Visit the area. Before you sign any contracts, make sure you visit the area outside of the actual property. Do you have a convenience store near by? Are the transport links good? Will you be able to get home at 4am on a Sunday morning after a few too many voddys at Heaven? Check what is in the surroundings; is there a park, a school,  a supermarket. Don't go in blind.

Hidden fees. Always have extra cash outside of your rent and deposit. Most, if not all Estate Agents will have admin fees. From holding deposits to reference costs, 90% of the time there will be additional costs on top of the obvious. It will not cost you to view a property, but it will probably cost you to officially note your interest. A lot of agents will ask for a holding deposit. This will mean the property is held for you and your application is sent to the landlord. If they accept, this charge will be deducted from your general deposit. Some agencies will have non-refundable admin fees, and most will ask for referencing fees. Do not be afraid to ask the Estate Agent in question for a break-down on their fees.

Credit check. Before you move into a property a credit check will be processed to check your credit score. For those moving into somewhere for the first time with no real credit history this may not be as easy as 1, 2, 3 - but if you have consistently paid as little as a phone bill on time every month, this will all go towards your credit score meaning you are more likely to be accepted for renting a property. The longer you rent (and pay your bills on time), the less of an issue this will be.

House mate. If you're anything like me, you won't feel comfortable about going into a house share with a load of strangers. Whilst I appreciate this is a great way to meet people and works amazingly (and more cost effectively) for a lot of people, my anxiety wouldn't allow me to be comfortable in this kind of situation. I am also really into interior design and want to make a whole property my own instead of just a room! If you are going into a whole property, chances are you'll be going with a house mate. Make sure this person is someone you trust. Someone who you have a friendship with and someone who you can address any problems to without any awkward or bitterness. Make sure you are both/all legally on the lease, to ensure that you are not responsible if for any reason they pay their rent late etc.

As i'm coming up to a year living in rented property and currently on the search for my second, I'm sure I will have new horror stories in the process of my next move. I am currently extremely stressed about my move so wanted to attempt to turn my stress and (little) knowledge into something positive.

If you'd like an update on this then please do let me know - i'd love to also share my "tips" on money saving (as hard as I find it to stick to sometimes - writing it down may actually help me too!) and general interior ideas for when you have actually moved into the property too, so let me know if any of you would be interested in that!

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