To follow up on my previous entries, I have come up with a list of things to think about when you’re looking for a flat. Hopefully, these tips will help you in your search.
Treat your search like a job hunt. Searching for a flat is like trying to find a job; it requires time, patience, hard work, and resilience.
Know what you want. What kind of apartment do you want? Come up with a list of criteria before you begin your search. Also, be aware of what you can afford and what’s in your means.
Save some cash. Make sure you have enough money for the security deposit and first month’s rent. This added up to about £1100 for Andrew and me.
Scour the Internet. Check Gumtree, Studentpad, and other websites for new housing posts at least a few times a day.
Act decisively. If you see a place you like that’s within your price range, take it! Another desperate student will surely take the flat if you hesitate. But…
Trust your instincts. If you have a negative gut reaction to a place, but feel like you should take it because of the limited amount of housing, don’t sign a lease right away! Wait a bit and see what else is out there.
Do your homework. You will be more successful at gauging the quality and value of a flat if you have an understanding of the housing market.
Make local connections. Locals can give you invaluable insider tips on where to live, what to look for, and how to find a flat.
Be realistic. Don’t expect to find your dream apartment; you are in grad school after all. But having said that…
Have a little faith. Just because you can’t live in your dream apartment, doesn’t mean you can’t find something that comes close. My current apartment is a case in point.
Treat each flat visit like an interview. Show up on time, dress nicely, be polite, etc.
Let the landlord speak first. Observe the owner and gauge their expectations before you admit any preferences and plans. For example, some landlords in Edinburgh prefer renters who move out of their apartments before the summer, so that they can lease the apartment to Fringe Festival attendees for higher rates. Other landlords prefer renters who stay on for at least a year. There are no concrete rules, just use your best judgment.
Ask the right questions. Make sure to voice all pertinent questions and concerns. For example, Andrew is extremely sound sensitive, so always asked about the noise levels.
Show some love. Don’t be afraid to show how much you love an apartment; it could tip the balance in your favor if you are in competition with other potential residents.
Express your gratitude. To tip the balance further, send the owner a thank you email.
Check your tax status. You may have to pay Council Tax if you live with non-students. For more information, check my post on Council Tax.
Have at least one letter of reference. Sometimes owners request two.