When I look back at where I have lived, it’s not the most colourful of stories, but it’s kinda exciting in some senses.
I was born and bred in Manchester, but I lived in Preston for 3 years whilst I studied Fashion Promotion and Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire. Then, 10 years ago, I moved back to Manchester, but lived in Didsbury for a couple of years with my friends.
I took the biggest leap when I chose to live in Sydney, Australia, for a year in 2013 – one of the best experiences of my life. But home is home, and I returned to Manchester. To fast-forward a couple of years, I now have two homes: a house in North Manchester, and a house in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, close to the Cheshire border.
When I look back, I have moved my possessions back and forth to probably around 7 apartments/rooms/houses and my current move brings the total to 8. Looking back at it, I have no idea how I managed it, or how my parents managed to keep helping me pack up the car each time, but somehow we made it work.
I’m now a home-owner, and a proud one at that. Nothing beats that feeling of having your own bricks and mortar. But, renting was pretty much my life for all my life so far, and with renting, comes bad landlords, noisy neighbours, un-ideal locations, houses that need property refurbishment, and all kinds.
There are some things that just make you say no-no, and make you want to move out pretty quickly, even before that yearly contract ends.
BEFORE YOUR VIEWING
- First things first, carry out a full check of the location of the house/apartment/flat. And by this, I mean look for what may be below the apartment block, or neighbouring down the road. Is there a late-night student bar, or even things like a bust stop outside the house? I say this because these things cause unnecessary noise, like late night music, or early morning buses charging around outside your bedroom window.
- Speaking of buses, transport links are a huge must too. Especially if you like the freedom to jump on the metrolink or on a train/bus, and be in the city in a couple of minutes. Or even the local town, and you know it makes life easier to have public transport for when you don’t want to drive.And if you don’t have a car, then yes, this one is crucial! Please do a full check of walking distances from your chosen house/apartment to various destinations (don’t forget supermarkets!).
- If you are looking for an apartment, take note of the rest of the building and ask yourself a few key questions: does anything look a little worn? What are parking spaces like? Are the common areas well maintained? Is the outside entrance secure? What is the security of this place like?And if it’s a house, look for things like damp outside, overgrown weeds (no one wants to inherit a terrible garden!), broken gates/fences… all these things will become part of your everyday ‘home’, so take good time to really vet it all out.
DURING THE VIEWING
- So this is one which I find quite crucial, and one that can get overlooked when you get too amazed by a huge kitchen with a dishwasher, or that stunning balcony with views of the city. But the key one: what is your bathroom going to be like? The bathroom is a place which should represent a bit of a relaxing sanctuary – is there a bath? A nice roomy shower? Is it full of damp? Does the window look out onto another house (more for singing in the shower with the window open!) Is there limescale or residue all over the walls/bath? I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning bathrooms, so make sure you chose a place to live in which the bathroom benefits your life, and doesn’t become a hindrance.
- Quite a sensible one, but ask the lettings agent about the windows. You want double glazing, and it’s unbelievable how many rentals will try and avoid installing these. If you have single glazing, it means you’ll be open to hearing every car, siren, crowds… etc etc. Also, check they all open properly! Something again that gets overlooked.
- Always check with the letting agent what exactly is included with the house or apartment. When they say ‘fully furnished’ just double check with them, because sometimes you’ll see a gorgeous tall lamp in the living room, but when you get there, it’s gone. Same goes with bookshelves, coffee tables… all the things you don’t want to buy if the place says fully furnished, but they could technically be the other tenants property. Make sure they outline a full list to you before accepting.
- Again it’s a dull one, but look out for things like smart meters, water meters, that kind of thing. These can have an impact of the bills, and it’s good to know what is already installed before you move in.
- This sounds naff, but the lettings agent or previous tenants will be sneaky about the house or apartment before you call round. Stains on sofa cushions will be flipped around, rips in carpets will be covered with rugs… there are all sorts of things to be brutal about. So don’t be afraid to sit on the sofas, lift up the cushions, move around the rugs – it’s totally fine to give the place a good going-over if you’re considering it becoming home.
AFTER THE VIEWING
- This is a funny one, but it’s the things you have access to that are real important. For example – which side of the fences are yours? Obviously, it’s a landlords problem, but it might mean that next door have shabby fences falling apart, and they have no plans to replace them. But your landlord also wont, because they don’t belong to him. It means you’ll be living with tatty fencing…And look at the bins situation. Are all of them there? Does the house come with all of the recycling bins? Have some been stolen, and you have to pay the council to get them back? Again, a dull thing to think about but it can save hassle if you look into these early…
- Look into what types of security maintenance the place has, such as sufficient locks on external and internal doors. Does the house or apartment have an alarm system fitted, and has it had security checks? Are there fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted inside and outside the apartment? What is the protocol if a fire should start, are your fire exits easily and legally accessible, are there sprinklers?
- The final point is to listen to your heart: does this place feel like home? Picture yourself travelling home from work and coming into the place. Does is make you smile? Or do you feel like it’s just a mediocre choice, and one just to get you by ‘for the time being?’.Be honest with yourself and chose wisely – don’t rush into any decisions!