Renting in London

Flat hunting hasn’t been half as bad as you might imagined it would be, although I have to say I’m glad to have someone to share it with. I didn’t want to get started, having moved 7 times already in 6 years. London’s my home, but every flat has always felt temporary for one reason or another, and I’ve lost things in every move. We’ve searched furiously on the obligatory rightmove over the space of a week to 10 days, and using the site sent off lots of requests for viewings. We heard back from a fair view to be honest, and calls are still coming in for flats which are both in the areas and the price ranges we like. It’s still irritating nonetheless when you apply to view for dream properties that apparently went sometime ago, but haven’t been removed from the website!

Ruben and I have been living with another couple for almost 6 months, and have given our notice to leave the flat at the end of April/early May this year. We gave the landlord a couple of months notice when we were obliged to give just one, as we were absolutely sure we needed to go. There have been some difficulties, but really it could also have been worse! The rent has been reasonable (£700 per couple) and the bills have been minimal, in fact the cheapest I’ve ever had. Plus we’re just a 3 minute walk to the tube station, which is certainly helpful when realising you’re up later than you should be and rushing to work in the morning! (That’s me, most mornings!). It’s definitely our time though to be living alone together, so we’re beyond pleased with our little searches and the prospect that soon we can negotiate our own time and space simply between the two of us.

You realise when you are searching that you can’t have it all and that’s part and parcel of accepting you’re living in an amazing city, unless you earn enough to say “to hell with it”. Obviously, living and sharing costs as part of a couple certainly helps. And we think Brexit has impacted upon the rents too. In 2009 myself and an ex-boyfriend paid £1300 for a 1 bedroom flat in Balham (zone 3). It was a lovely flat, but I can’t believe I paid that now, almost 10 years ago. I think Ruben and I are fairly flexible in our expectations and demands, purely because we also want to save and not put everything we owe into renting. An NHS worker, my budget is fairly limited. Keyworker schemes are prevalent in London but nothing has come at this time (a shame as 1 bed flats via the Peabody trust for keyworkers are from £960 a month in super central and cool areas). Really, just being together and happy is the most important thing but access to decent transport links is essential, and god I’d love a bath! We’d both like “cosy” and just the idea we’ll be able to be there for at least a couple of years. Our dream really is to have a flat in the areas of Stamford Hill or Stoke Newington so we’ve focused the search on this part of London town. We’ve really loved it there as a couple. I loved the community feel in these areas, the cafes for breakfast and the good bars and parks around. There’s an alternative, arty scene here but it’s not as hipster cool as say nearby Dalston, which for me is a positive (I’m not cool).

So far! We have seen a gorgeous cosy bedsit in Stoke Newington, a student like “dive” near Turnpike Lane (errr my doing- bit of a wild card that one!), a 1 bed flat in the basement of a family home in the Highbury Quadrant and just to the left of Clissold Park (beautiful), and a properly organised and beautiful 1 bed flat with small balcony in Stamford Hill. Agency fees can be rather pricey. I’d recommend you take a look at Openrent, where you are letting “directly from” the landlord and there are no hefty agency fees to worry about: as a couple of these viewings have come from there.

The verdict on the viewings? My hearts in the cosy 1 bed bedsit in Stokie, and Ruben really liked the 1 bed in Stamford Hill, so we have made offers on both. Or rather RUBEN made the offers. I have to say I’m glad he’s with me on this, realising how soft I am! Obviously today is good Friday so the response might be slow. Hopefully I’ll have some good news by tomorrow!! (the “hopefully” means please let me have some news, otherwise I’ll have a breakdown).

There’s nothing I can advise other than be strong, be positive, and negotiate! And that right now is a good time for the renting market for those looking to rent. Looking at a few different flats at least helps you understand what it is you’re NOT wanting- even my wild card helped us with that! And do check out Open Rent- it’s a lovely site and might bring up a few great possibilities where you’re not spending £500 on fees upfront.

Post our viewings, we decided we deserved a quick post viewings discussion and drink and nipped into Fontaines on Stoke Newington Road to enjoy a few of their cocktails. If you sign up to their emails, you get 20% off on your first visit and Thursday nights they offer some cocktails at £5. It’s a beautiful 1920’s style venue (my outside photo doesn’t do it justice/it doesn’t look from the outside what you get inside) and I totally recommend a visit. If you’re a gin drinker, their “Clover Club” and “Singapore Slings” were sublime 🙂



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