THE 5 REALITIES OF RENTING IN LONDON





Taking the plunge to move to London is a scary prospect, but I've managed to get myself a job in the city,  so that's the hard bit done right? I mean, I've heard quite a few people saying how expensive it is and they still live in a s**thole, but how bad can it be? I did a pretty good job of finding places to live at uni and I'll just be really strict with budgeting - it will be FINE

Ah, the sweet naive words uttered from the mouths of innocent, wide-eyed graduates with the world at their feet. London, the city of opportunity that will make you big bucks and have you drinking and hanging out at the coolest places, almost certainly caught in the back of a glossy montage on an episode of Made in Chelsea. The same words thought by me as I made the decision to tear off the comfort blanket of my parents' house and try to go it alone in the big wide world.

Expectations of finding a slick pad for £500 a month in zone 2 quickly came crashing down with the reality of £1500 deposits (da FUQ, who has that much spare cash?), estate agents that live up to their terrible reputations and a once discerning attitude reduced to 'oh well as long as it's not TOTALLY shit it will do'.

Moving here is definitely one of the best decisions I've made, but the process of finding my now home in Tooting (zone 3) was a dark time that I do not make a habit of dwelling on.

I will however, dwell on it on this occasion, in the vain hope that any poor souls beginning their search are saved some of the anguish I experienced, and also to provide some empathetic lols to the rest of us living the dream paying £600 a month for a tiny room with few other functioning household appliances. Here are the realities of the property search in the capital:




You begin to reassess how essential your basic requirements are
Start of search: 'We definitely want a 4 bed with a living room and separate kitchen. Won't be going any further than zone 2. And budget is £500 MAX because I know someone who knows someone who pays £450 for a room in Peckham, bills included!'

3 months into search: 'I mean, we don't really need a living room do we? Yeah £700 seems pretty reasonable for this shoe box that smells a bit like damp and has no natural light coming in. We'll take it!'

Approximately 50% of your waking hours are spent on property searches

Finding a house in London is like raising a child: it needs constant attention. ‘Sorry that one’s taken’ – but it’s only been on Gumtree for 30 minutes! Deflect your eyes from refreshing Zoopla/Primelocation for more than an hour and you’re about as likely to get a flat as the members of One Direction are to having successful solo careers. A significant chunk of time is also taken up by falsely promising phone calls from estate agents who are not calling to let you know about a dream pad that’s just come in, but just to check if you’re ‘still looking’. Yes, it’s been 2 months, I’m STILL looking. Way to rub salt into that wound.


While we're at it, 99% of estate agents are not very good at being estate agents
Because more people want a place to live than there are places to live, being an estate agent in London is arguably the easiest job in the world, as it requires very little effort and using my powers of deduction, I have concluded very little skill either. 'I see you want a 4 bedroom for £2400 per month... how about this 3 bed in Croydon for £2800?' And good luck with getting anything done once you've signed your name on the dotted line and they've got their chunk of commission; your freezing cold shower is pretty low down on their list of priorities when they've got five other terrible flats to sell with no effort required.


Landlord/prospective tenant roles are reversed

Instead of the usual ‘I am the buyer, convince me to rent your property’ dynamic, Mr Landlord has about 15 other groups of people viewing his gaff today, and in X-Factor audition-style you dissolve into gushing about how much you ‘want this’ and it’s your ‘dream’, so as to get a leg up over the group of horrible girls who are trying to take your house away (read: they’re actually probably very nice). These endeavours are usually futile and you’re best just sticking with the Lando’s that live by a ‘first come, first served’ rule, not ones that insist on weird personality quizzes (true story).



But in the end, it’s totally worth it
Once you’ve conquered the Everest of renting (and realised why people make such a fuss about actually buying a house), it’s the best thing ever because, girl, you’re in the big city and there is always a new pop up to eat at, an art gallery to visit and a niche ‘hot-yoga-whilst-listening-to-Bjork-drinking-coconut-water’ to try and never go to again. That kinda novelty never wears off!


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