The most realistic guide to renting in London you’ll ever read
‘Guys, who stole my avocado?’
Moving out of halls and into your first shared flat in London can be a daunting experience.
Firstly, the city’s rental market is crazy. After being outbid five times by people willing to pay 12 months of rent upfront, you’ll quickly realise that you’ll have to lower your expectations for your second-year flat.
Then, even after you actually manage to find a flat, you’ll have to deal with the nightmare of letting agents, annoying flatmates, and an extreme level of budgeting you’ve probably never experienced before.
From your first viewing to flat dynamics, The London Tab compiled a list of the realities you’ll face while living in London.
Renting in London is painfully expensive
Before you move to London, I hope you’re prepared to fork out most of your student loan on rent for a barely liveable flat. But really, it’s so worth it when you consider how much the city has to offer (though you can no longer afford to go out anywhere).
Maybe you’re regretting your UCAS options, but honestly, pesto pasta never gets old.
Getting to campus
A lot of affordable student areas here tend to be pretty far from campus, so plan ahead and invest in some good quality shoes and warm clothes for those 45 minute treks to your 9AM lectures.
Alternatively, you could indulge in the luxury of buses or Tubes, but you’ll have to say goodbye to half your weekly food budget.
Letting agents are your enemy
Letting agents have mastered the art of gaslighting.
Your back door doesn’t lock properly? The previous tenants never had a problem with it. The mould in your bedroom is triggering your asthma? Just stop drying your clothes in your room. Your bathroom ceiling collapsed? Sorry but you really should have emphasised the seriousness of the leak in your 20 emails more clearly.
Basically, consider yourself lucky if anything gets fixed in less than a month, watch out for any cheeky extra fees, and arm yourself with hundreds of pictures of any existing damage your letting agent will inevitably try to use against you to keep your deposit.
Keep your eyes peeled at the viewing
As well as gaslighting, letting agents are also experts at catfishing. Those pictures on Zoopla might make it seem like a place has the potential to be your new digs, but those expectations could be heartbreakingly crushed at the viewing. That perfect windowsill to cultivate your new houseplants could be covered in mould.
If you’re even considering signing a tenancy agreement without viewing the flat in person, stop yourself. Check EVERYTHING: the water pressure, the locks, everything. And be sure to interrogate any current tenants about why they’re moving out.
Seriously, don’t be like me and flip the mattress on the first day to find this:
Save yourself the disgust.
Expect multi-functioning rooms
If you think by this I mean a cute open-plan living space with plenty of storage for all your pots and pans and an abundance of wall space for your pretty posters – you’re wrong.
Most student flats consist of a kitchen and a few bedrooms, meaning your barely 100-square-foot kitchen will also serve as your dining and living area. Oh, and expect your kitchen layout to make absolutely no sense. Seriously, what landlord thinks it makes sense for your kitchen door to block your fridge from opening?
Your flat will be so cozy, though, so don’t worry. You’re totally getting your money’s worth for that £850 per week four-bed flat.
Mould is your new best friend
Though mould is definitely something you should look out for when you first view a flat, it can be somewhat impossible to spot when you’re flat-hunting in the summer months.
You’ll just have finished getting settled and decorating your cozy Pinterest-inspired bedroom when you notice an ominous black patch around your window frame in October. Unfortunately, that black mould is here to stay (and grow), along with the cough that comes with it. You just better get used to it.
Sharing a flat truly does make or break your friendships. You might think you like your new flatmates when you move in, but your relationships could quickly crumble if you let petty fights get to you.
I get it, though. I’d also be livid if my flatmate stole a slice of my cucumber without asking first. But before you let that get to you, keep in mind that you’ll live together for at least the rest of the year. It’s worth keeping the peace.
When you’re irritated with your flatmates, remember that your 3AM DnB blast sessions probably annoy them too. Despite the arguments and passive-aggressive comments in the flat group chat, I love my flatmates – really, I guess.
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• UCU announces 18 days of strikes over the next two months at more than 30 London unis