- SCOUR THE INTERNET
You’ll find a tonne of sites online – Zoopla, Rightmove, Gumtree etc – but until you’ve scoured them all, don’t make any decisions. Whilst most high street agencies use all these house search sites these days, you’ll find a few others from privatised landlords and such hiding in there.
- ALWAYS BOOK VIEWINGS: THE POWER OF THE FISHEYE LENSAdding a little brightness on Photoshop or using a fish eye lens for advertisement images can totally change the whole look of the flat/house. It can make a hell-hole look like a spacious and bright haven. So always be sure to book a viewing – even multiple viewings – in order to get a proper feel for what the place looks like. Take into consideration that some dirt and uncleanliness can be easily solved, but damage to walls and furniture can’t really. You don’t want to move in to your first place and have to fork out tonnes of money trying to sort it out.
Also take into account the amount of natural light there is in each room: More natural light, means less money spent on electricity and lighting. Especially in the Summer months.
The first flat I went to view seemed perfect: It was right next to work, super cute and fully furnished. Only when I viewed the flat, did it turn into a nightmare of wrecked furniture, weird smells and only 1 window for the whole flat. It was dark and dingy and I had no intention of turning vampire. With utter disappointment I left the flat, hoping to never have to return.
But with my current flat – I have absolutely everything I’ve always looked for. The images online weren’t distorted in any way and if anything, the flat was better than the pictures. Spacious, tonnes of natural light in each room, beautifully high ceilings and minimalist colourscheme.
- GET QUOTES FOR BILLS BEFORE MOVINGThere are a lot of ways to get a good idea of how much bills will cost you, by simply typing in the postcode and finding the rates/standard bills in that area. This is not always reliable however, so never bite the bullet on the idea that you have the correct budget.
Zoopla have their own average bill evaluator on their properties, but personally, I wouldn’t trust this. Do your own research.
- SET OUT A REALISTIC BUDGET AND SAVEThere are so many things – other than rent – you have to think about when finding your first place. So it’s important to have much more money than you first expect. There’s gonna be complications with bills, deposits, council tax and not to mention each individual bill you might not have thought about: Food, TV Licence, insurance, WiFi (doesn’t pay for itself…).Save up a decent amount and prepare yourself for a massive amount of application fees (dependent on agency), and deposits, which tend to be needed before you move in, along with the first month’s rent. Deposits tend to be the same price – if not more – than rent, too.
- CONSIDER LOCATIONLocation is probably one of the most important things to consider when finding a place and planning a budget accordingly. I would strongly suggest finding somewhere near to a supermarket. Many a blood-blister later, I still continue to mumble my way home after a weekly shop taking numerous breaks and accepting that eating is actually overrated.
Also think about transportation links and proximity to your workplace; considering this is where you’re gonna be spending the whole week, make sure it’s easy to get to via walking, car or public transport. If you need to take public transport, be sure to add this to your budget.
- DO YOU WANT TO DO THIS?Moving out isn’t just for those moments when you fall out with your parents and decide ‘I have to get out of here!’ It’s expensive, hard work and you’ll miss those two bundles of helpful joy washing and cleaning up behind you.
- PEOPLE WANT TO BUY YOU USEFUL, ADULT PRESENTS: LET THEMPeople want to buy you useful, but boring presents, let them. My mum got me a microwave for Christmas. I protested and thought it was the worst idea. I had planned to become a culinary wizard with my new found independency. But 79 steam puds and numerous reheated meals later, I’m pretty grateful for my boring grown-up Christmas present. It might even be better than a bucket of jelly beans. Maybe.
- UPDATE THE INVENTORY
The last thing is to do when you move in. Once you’ve handed in the forms, paid your deposit and planned your moving in date, you’re officially responsible for the property and any damage. Most estate agents will provide an inventory and damage assessment pack in which they’ll list everything they own in the place and any recorded damage they know about. Double check this! Make sure everything is recorded or else say bye to your deposit. If you see something not mentioned, make amendments and send the pack back to them.