Find your dream apartment in any city
Newsflash world, my life has suddenly transformed into a Nancy Meyers film. I’ve just moved into a flat in Notting Hill and every day I walk down the street, I feel like I’m starring in a romantic comedy. Romantic because I’m in love with absolutely everything I see, the black cabs, flower boxes, multicoloured terrace houses and marble arches. The satirical thing is that while many of my neighbours can afford live-in chefs, I can barely afford a frozen bag of chicken nuggets.
Just yesterday I walked past a french au pair trying to wrangle a wild child on the street and I felt like saying “Leave him, adopt me!” Living here has made me more determined to succeed in this city. I feel like I’m letting Hugh and my fellow residents down, by only being able to buy home brand deodorant but those are the perils of inner city living.
Don’t be fooled! Getting to this point wasn’t easy. Finding an apartment in London can be a haunting experience. During one of the inspections a homeless person threw an empty tray of lasagne at me and even then, that neighbourhood wasn’t cheap. Here are my 10 tips for finding the perfect apartment in any city.
10 Tips for Finding Your Dream Apartment
- Be realistic but don’t kill the dream. A common misconception about moving to a big city is that you won’t be able to afford a space to breathe, let alone a nice apartment in an affluent neighbourhood. This is true to a certain degree. In Sydney I knew a lot of people who lived far outside the city and spent hours a day commuting because the cost of renting was cheaper. The problem with this is, the cost of transport adds up, especially in London where the average cost of a tube ride is 2.40 pounds ($5 Australian dollars). If you’re travelling into work every day and on the weekends to socialise it can be cheaper just to rent where you want to rent.
- Set a budget. We all want to live like kings but decide before you see any gorgeous apartments what you can afford to spend. Take also into consideration the cost of your lifestyle, are you a social minx who spends a good portion of her pay drinking martinis or are you willing to sacrifice the nightlife for nights on the sofa watching TV? I can afford to live where I am because I have a serious fetish for saving money by grocery shopping.
- Existing sharehouse or find a new lease? It is generally easier to rent a room in an existing sharehouse especially if you’re living overseas. You don’t have to worry about the hassle of securing a lease and setting up utilities. While you could become best-friends for life with your new roomies, there are also obvious downsides to living with strangers.
- If you want to lease an apartment…prepare to work for it! The property market can be very competitive, contact as many agents as possible and view as many properties as you can. If you are looking for an apartment in London pick somewhere with central heating as it will save you money on your electricity bill come winter time.
- Move quickly! The rule, first-in-best-dressed applies to many properties with motivated owners. Set an alert on your phone to notify you when new properties come on the market and ensure viewing appointments are made first thing in the morning. In our situation, our agent cancelled the rest of the appointments for the day as soon as we saw the apartment and paid a holding deposit. A holding deposit will buy you some time and is refundable if things don’t work out.
- Make yourself as appealing as possible to the agent and the owner. Always respond to emails quickly and concisely. The faster you move, the sooner you can move into your apartment!
- Time for the background check! If you have a job you are going to be a more desirable potential tenant, be prepared to provide proof of your employment. If you don’t have a job it is a much harder process but don’t let that deter you! It is likely that you will be asked to provide a Guarantor within the UK. If you don’t have someone within the UK who is prepared to put their name on your lease, ask if you can use a Guarantor outside the UK. Get the agent on the phone to discuss your options, it is always much easier to find a solution when you’ve got someone on the line opposed to emailing back and forth.
- Have your deposit money ready. The first thing you want to do when you get your previous bond back is to spend it, don’t! A significant amount of money (usually 4-6 weeks rents) must be paid upfront before you can move into your property so start saving now!
- READ the lease agreement carefully and don’t be afraid to suggest amendments. I can assure you that your landlord will go out of their way to protect their property and you should do the same to safeguard yourself.
- Move in! After they carry out a condition report (which is usually conducted by an external company) you are free to pick up the keys and a bottle of celebratory champagne.
For me right now the champagne might be cheap but the living is oh so sweet! I cant wait to share with you all the stories from my new terrace house.
Happy home hunting!