Man oh man, it's official. London is THE most expensive city in the world. It used to be Hong Kong (my second home from home) but with the British pound and property prices rising in value, the big smoke is now top of the list. Great.
The cost of renting in London is apparently double that of in the rest of the UK, but regardless of where you live - it's always good to reassess exactly how much you can afford to rent and if you can save money anywhere. Sounds boring, but it's true and is becoming more and more important as the squeeze sets in.
So let's begin!!
I never really thought about the physical location of my flat within the building until I moved from the top of a building, to the middle of a terrace. My new place is a million times warmer - I haven't even used the boiler yet. The location of your flat could have a direct impact on your heating bills - if you have a choice, you could save money with a place that's surrounded on most sides, or above another.
When it comes to moving in, the worst moment is probably when you have to make the first payment. Yup, THAT payment. The one where it's like the big deposit, plus first months rent, plus fees, plus all your sheets hitting the fan all at the same time. Bwah. I swear, you will never feel as poor as you did when you made that payment. Until it happens again with your next place of course...
Once you've handed over the cash...
Is your deposit safe? The most common private rental agreement (assured shorthold tenancy) states that your landlord has to put your deposit in a Government-backed protection scheme. But do you actually know if this has happened?
Too many of my friends have not thought about it and then had issues getting their deposit back from their landlord later. If your deposit is protected (as required by law!) this ensures that your deposit is returned to you - assuming you've not thrown a wild party and caused some damage, put some holes in walls, pulled a radiator off a wall etc etc. (Uni 2nd year, guilty!)
Make sure you don't lose your deposit for no good reason. Even if you're the perfect tenant, you may still get charged for that scratch on the floor which was already there when you arrived. Take pictures of your place when you arrive and then have evidence that they were taken before your term is up. Timestamp them, send it to yourself in a sealed envelope or email them to your landlord - forward planning is hassle but it is EVERYTHING. Don't "can't be bothered" it - you may be glad you did take photos if you do end up in an argument with your landlord.
Oh yeah - and don't forget about extra fees - not only is the deposit typically 4-6 weeks, a lot of estate agents charge a ridiculous amount of money for sorting contracts, references and all sorts of stuff which I'm pretty sure is not that expensive. Logistics wise, there's the cost of moving and whether you need to buy new furniture as well. Factor it all in before you sign on the line!
Well, you're probably pretty much stuck by your contract - so this phase is all about saving cash, making cash and getting your kicks where you can, for as cheaply as your can.
Switch it up. I've been harping on about switching your bank account right NOW, and it's the same with your energy supplier. You don't have to stick with the same energy supplier as the previous tenants. It may be cheaper if you chose a new supplier. Use a comparison website like USwitch to quickly and easily see if you could be saving money!
When I moved to London, my first money-saving step was giving up the luxury of a tumbledryer. OH HOW I MISS IT. Freshly tumbled sheets - a dream. Now I've got the worlds most extendable clothes horse and am in favour of air drying my clothes instead of paying a bigger electricity bill. You get used to it, you do - and it's another place to hang your clothes instead of putting them away. (guilty.)
Finally - it's all about how to boost your income - this is probably one for another post but essentially, it's all about whether you can make money on the side? Have you got a parking space to sell? My personal favourite is Mystery Shopping - check out my Mystery Shopping post here
In fact, I've written lots of Money Monday posts on money saving, finance admin - just click MONEY in the Topics selection above. Boom.
Have you got any renting horror stories or landlord troubles?
Have you had to give up anything to afford renting?
How bad IS that first downpayment you have to make?!!
By Zoe Dubs