So, you are moving. Whether you have been kicked out, went willingly or just decided it is time for a new place to rest your rear, you are going to start looking for a new house. But where do you even start? Finding a new property can be a scary and anxious time for many of us and here are some things that I like to consider before planning a big move.*
Think: Give some thought to what you really need and what you would like. There is a difference. A driveway for 3 cars is great, but if you don’t drive, it isn’t really necessary. Aside from the obvious things like neighbourhoods and price brackets, places in London can often come furnished which is quite unusual for some areas of the county, and can be extremely useful if you are moving to a new area or just starting to build a home. There are many varieties of tenancy agreements too – all sorts of lengths, so do not feel pressured into signing for a fixed 36 month term contract if that is not what you want.
Investigate: Research the area that is local to the neighbourhood you are looking at. It goes without saying but sometimes if you are okay to live on a main road, (something which I actually really like), several minutes walk from the convenience stores, you can sometimes find the perfect place for a few hundred pounds less than somewhere in the centre of town. Our new place is on one of London’s major A roads, about five minutes walk from bus and tube stops and we even get off road parking included in the rent and a garden, all for being a good 15 minute walk from the nearest supermarket. (In London, that is a HUGE amount of time!)
Working: Pick somewhere close to work. For me, I switch jobs a lot because I tend to get bored of office life, on my quest to be a full time freelancer, so all I really need is a tube station or a bus stop, but with my partner working at Heathrow Airport, it was important that this was commutable. Anyone familiar with the area around Heathrow knows that much of it isn’t exactly the poshest area in London, so finding somewhere that was appropriately west of Central London but sufficiently east of the airport was also important. If you take public transport to work, consider how much this will cost you – your bargain flat might not seem like such a good idea if the commute is 2 hours a day and costs you several thousand pounds per year. Damn those ever increasing rail fares.
Bills: We all know that they are one of the biggest cretins of adulting, but bills are a necessity. Remember to budget for them. We started with one budget and quickly reduced it by a few hundred pounds when we realised how much it would cost to run the places we were looking at. Remember, you pay for everything, unless you can find somewhere that includes it all in he rent (like through some private landlords or individual room rentals). From water to the land you live on, that council tax can be a big monthly addition to bills and can be unexpected if you are a student and have not needed to pay it until now.
Zones: Consider the travel areas around you. In London, these are called ‘zones’ and the further away from Zone One you get, the cheaper (in theory) prices tend to get. Our new flat is in Zone Four and still on the tube map which makes it pretty damn perfect for what we need in terms of Heathrow Airport and Central London.
* My tips are all focused on London because that is always where I am looking when moving, but the general ideas are useful no matter where you are.
What things do you prioritise when trying to pick out a new place to live? Do you think about the above, or do you have your own list? Let me know in the comments below.