The flat hunt begins

I’ve been looking at flats online for several months and now that I’m in town, it’s time to start looking in real life! Of course, I’m starting to think it will be a long, hard, emotional process!

I’ve scrimped and saved for the past two years so that I could afford to return to Scotland for my postgraduate degree, but despite my efforts, I am still going to be cutting it tight on the financial side. I no longer have a comfortable income. I no longer have a car. I no longer have a great credit history. (Well, I have one in America but it doesn’t translate to Scotland so I’m credit-less here.)

All of this means that I need to find a place that I can afford on a tight budget and that it needs to be in the city centre so that I can walk everywhere – or take a bus trip when needed. Thankfully, most flats in my budget are furnished. Sadly, most of them are crappy little dives, barely big enough to swing a cat.

Yesterday was a bit of a blow when I learned that most of the reputable letting agents required you to be in (preferably full time)employment. My student status seems to be a negative one, even though I’ve spent the last several years as a working professional and that I am not a typical student (you know, being 37 years old and all!). My healthy(ish) bank balance doesn’t seem to matter nor does my offer to pay several months’ rent in advance. No, to rent with a reputable company, I will need a guarantor. (Which I know I can do if required.)

Regardless, I registered with a couple of the better agents yesterday and today.

Of course, I also realised that I need to check out the agents with a less-than-fantastic reputation, which is what I did today. It seems that they’re not as bothered with my student status, nor are they concerned about my unemployment – and they’ll happily let me pay in advance so that I don’t need a guarantor.

As luck would have it, one of today’s agents had a flat just across the road that was on the upper end of my budget so we walked across to have a look. It’s in a great location for town (two blocks from the coffee shop I’m sitting in whilst writing this post) and is a “good enough” size. However, I noticed immediately that the entry stair (whilst clean-ish) was dingy and smelly. I also noticed that the flat is grimy and smelly – in fairness some of this could be from the student who is currently residing there, though some is certainly damp.

I have to say, I am sad that my upper limit budget will only get me that type of flat in the city centre. And I have to admit that it makes me cry a bit. I could manage living there for a year, but I fear that I would be sad doing so as it’s such a stark contrast to the lovely home I left behind in America.

But, I have another flat to look at on Thursday. It’s the same price – again, at the upper end of my budget – but is a bit over a mile from the city centre which means it should be a bit nicer for the same money. In fact, the photos are lovely. Sadly, it means taking the bus more often, but if it’s as nice as it seems online, then I think it will be a better choice for me emotionally. And of course, I would need a guarantor to secure the place, but if I must, I must.

To give a happy spin here: I have to remember how lucky I am that I have a good friend to stay with until I find a place. Rebecca has kindly opened her home to me and whilst I know we’d both rather our own space, I also know that she’s happy to house me in between now and then. (I promise not to stay so long that I wear out my welcome!) Of course, I guess the nice thing is that the longer I stay, the more money I have to spend on a flat – which would mean a nicer place altogether!

Anyhow, I’ve only just begun and I’m not stressing out yet, but I’ll take all the luck you can send my way!

6 Replies to “The flat hunt begins”

  1. Get yourself a bike and then a mile or two from the town center doesn’t have to mean a bus ride. I lived in some pretty interesting places as a student and would go as far as saying that an arm full of cleaning products can normally transform most places from “dingy and smelly” to “habitable without the need to wear a face mask”. Here’s hoping you find a good balance of price, location and cleanliness soon !!

  2. I second the bike comment! Plus, when you look at it, a mile is only 15-20 minute walk – pleasant enough when the weather is good, plenty of buses when its grim. 🙂
    Good luck with yr search – I am redoubling my own effort!

  3. i can’t quite remember what 1-2 miles from the centre of your locale is but i’m going to third the bike thing but only if the neighbourhood is worth moving to
    the town centre is definitely a draw tho
    and register with the freecycle equivalent pronto for a low cost/free bike 🙂
    good luck

  4. hey Frances does the Uni have any info on flats I know when our son went to Newcastle they provided some details on landlords who would rent to students and they werent all dives either!! He managed to rent a flat over a shop which was really nice and big too, good luck with the search. Also look in the local paper/website for any auction houses – they sell all sorts and especially bikes!! i know we arent anywhere near but our one in Newark sells loads of good bikes weekly, shame you arent near here (we also have a spare room. Biking to Scotland from here is a bit too much I suppose 🙂

  5. Thanks, everyone! A (used) bike is certainly on my list of things to acquire–regardless of where my flat is. I am hoping for something 2 miles or less from the city centre (the one I’m looking at Thursday is just shy of a mile) but sadly the university is still considerably further out–certainly not an easy walk as it’s about 30-45 minutes from the city centre as it is! (That’s where the bike will come in handy!)
    I have looked at the list provided by the university but they are mostly rooms in a house, shared flats, or ones well outside my budget. I will double check when I go up to campus later this week though.
    Also, I’m sure that Mark is right about the cleaning bit–though not in the case of today’s flat. It was more than dirty, it was mouldy smelling–more so in the bathroom making me think there’s damp or rot going on.
    In the mean time, I really am lucky to have a friend with space to spare–and we get on quite well which is a bonus. (I’m sure we’ll still get on with me living here, too.)

  6. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need.
    And Recyke-a-bike is great for cheap but good bikes!
    Keep looking, the right place will turn up for you, I just know it. And until then, you get to enjoy my company. I promise not to make you watch Strictly every week!!

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