What I Wish I'd Known Before Renting My First Flat

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Hey Owlets,

In case you missed the news, I recently moved in with my boyfriend. It's actually the first time I've lived anywhere other than my family home so even though I was excited it was incredibly daunting. I am one of those people that will plan myself into oblivion. When we were moving in to our flat I had already calculated my share of the rent each month, allowed way over the top of what I estimated our bills to actually be, researched how much council tax was going to cost, budget for our furniture, busses to different areas of Bristol.... you name it, I'd probably already thought of it and put it in the spread sheet, yet somehow I still felt unprepared. As much as planning ahead can help, you'll never be prepared for absolutely everything and there will always be something that catches you off guard. I thought this could be a good opportunity for my younger readers to learn from some of the mistakes I've made, and if you're a more mature reader I'm hoping you might also be able to set me straight on some things that I've probably still forgotten!!

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Actually Think When you go to the Viewing

I know this sounds ridiculous, but if it's your first home you'll probably just go to a viewing, look around and think "yes, I really like this place" and in your mind that's the end of it. I know because that's exactly what I did. I walked into our flat at the viewing, fell in love, mentally planned where our furniture was going to go, then went home to a barrage of questions that I was not in the slightest bit ready for - the worst part is that once you hear them they're all fairly obvious things and, if you're like me, you'll probably be annoyed that you didn't think to ask yourself. Okay you love the flat and you've probably thought about access to public transport and local amenities, but one thing I learnt the hard way is that council tax is based on the value of the property, not the size - our flat is beautiful and I love living here but the council tax feels like legalised theft! If you're looking at renting an apartment there's likely to be a management charge for maintaining the building. It's standard for landlords to pay this and it's most likely built into your rent, but it's better to check than it come as a nasty surprise later on. Other questions will be more specific to your potential new home but try to check what comes with your flat such as parking and any white goods or furniture.

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Don't Forget the Little Things

If you're like me you've probably planned everything in your head 50 times over, but when you've spent your entire life living with your parents you don't realise how many little things you take for granted. When we first moved in it wasn't until we went to the toilet that we realised we hadn't bought soap, so we had to use hand sanitiser and rush to the shop the next day! We also had no whisk, no pegs to hang our laundry up and when a brand kindly sent me a bunch of flowers I had to run down the hall to ask our neighbour to borrow a vase. It's inevitable that you're going to forget something, but once you've secured your new home keep a list on your phone of everything you use each day - when you use something new add it to the list, and that way you know you're likely to have pretty much everything you need when you move in.

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Learn to Budget - Properly!!

This was the hardest adjustment - when you run out of money at your parents' house you just can't afford to go see your friends or you might have to borrow some money from your parents to get the bus. When you run out of money in your flat the bills are still going to need to be paid. I've always been incredibly careful with money, but I've always done it as a sort of mental note, saying "I have X money left and I need to buy X so I need to make sure I don't spend anything else". Since moving out I got online banking and my bank tracks where I spend money so I know where most of it is going and where I can possibly save a little. On top of this, budgeting websites like Pigly will be your new best friend! I particularly love Pigly because, unlike a lot of similar websites, they've realised that your income and outgoings aren't always the same every month and their tools allow for that. Each month I like to sit down with their budget calculator & put in how much I'm expecting to make, and you can give a rough percentage or use their values to work out where your money is going, which helps show you how to make your money last. I honestly never thought I would be this strict with myself, but money has always been a source of anxiety for me so being able to see it laid out in front of me really takes the pressure off.

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Everything Costs More than you Think - Apart from Some Things

How much do you think a basic microwave costs? I expected them to be around £150 and was shocked when I found them online for £45. On the flip side, I thought a vacuum cleaner couldn't possibly be more than about £75 - I was VERY wrong. When you've spent your entire life living with your parents these appliances just appear at home so your perception of how much they cost is based on absolutely nothing and is most likely skewed by how much you use the item (it says a lot about why I thought the vacuum would be cheaper, doesn't it?). In general things usually cost more than you think so make sure you do proper research and save up before you start the journey to getting your own home.

Moving Out First Home Renting Advice

Everyone Wants to Help

Honestly this is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Things may seem scary, but I guarantee that people will want to help you. Whether that's your family giving you advice or you ringing up the estate agent to ask questions that you feel like an idiot for not knowing the answer to (again, speaking from experience here!).  At the end of the day your family want to see you happy, the landlord wants to make sure you're able to afford their property, and the person managing your property (whether that's the estate agent or landlord themselves) will want to sort out any issues as soon as they arise. Going back to the previous point of "everything costs more than you think", I was genuinely shocked about how much the most basic things cost, but we were incredibly lucky in that I put a post on the local community Facebook group asking if anyone had anything they were looking to sell, and we were offered so many things for free that we had to turn some people down, just because they wanted to help a young couple with their first home. If you don't have a local Facebook group then try Gumtree or Freecycle.

You might feel alone when you're going through the process of moving out, but in reality your family will always be there to support you and you're quite likely to find that even total strangers want to make the world a little brighter by doing their bit. It's scary at first, but being able to say "I'm going home" and go back to somewhere that's totally yours makes up for all the stress it took to get there.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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