Apartment Hunting In The UK

Hello, my beautiful reader!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but for the past week or so I haven’t been in the right state of mind to write anything else than this. And I couldn’t finish this blog post before everything had settled down. Right now, it seems that the worst part of this whole process is over. If you have ever moved house, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.

I was thinking a lot about how I would write this, and I decided to go through the whole thing day by day. Every day I wrote down everything that had happened and how I felt. So, if you are planning on moving house anytime soon or you’re just curious about the ins and outs of this horrifying process, keep on reading.

Okay. I feel that first I need to explain that I have never in my life lived anywhere alone, I always lived with my family. Even when me and my boyfriend got together almost five years ago, we either lived with my family or we shared a flat with somebody. Both in Latvia and here – in the UK. I wanted to put this out there, so you know – this was the first time for both of us. (Maybe I should have named this post “Our First Time”, those things always get a lot of attention, haha.)

Friday, 21st July

Today is the day we’ve finally had enough. Enough of sharing our home with complete strangers (even though the current ones are pretty nice, we’ve had some horrific experiences before), not being able to feel free and relaxed at home… Enough of our landlord coming and going in our flat as he pleases, without any warning or notice. And we finally had enough when our landlord marched in our flat, told us that he’s raising the rent for 200 pounds a month to upgrade the flat and then a few days later (conveniently, after we paid the raised rent) telling us to move out, so he can actually upgrade the flat.

This is our old flat after we’ve already packed most of our stuff in the boxes. I wanted to take a picture of our bedroom as well, but forgot. I do regret it because it would be interesting to look back at it later. Oh well.

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Today, for the first time ever, I went through Rightmove, selected all the flats that we could afford, and called every single agency on that list. Now, I need to make this very clear – I hate calling people. Just thinking about it makes my stomach do cartwheels. It took all the courage I had to pick up my phone and dial the number. I was literally shaking when I pressed the Call button. As soon as the conversation started, the fear went away. But only till the next phone call had to be made.

With the first agencies I called, our conversations were about 1-2 minutes long. After three or four calls, I decided to save time for everyone and start with two most important questions:

  1. Is the place still available?
  2. Do they allow pets there? (Because we have a cat)

In most cases this was where the conversation ended. People in the UK do not want to allow pets in their flats. Apparently pets are evil creatures who destroy the place completely as soon as they are let into a property. People who have pets must be insane. I was about to give up and was wondering if there was any way of smuggling our cat and the 1.5m x 1.7m cat tower we bought him, into the flat without anyone noticing, when my boyfriend convinced me to call another one, before giving up completely. So I did, and what do you know – they DO allow cats. I was over-the-moon happy! We arranged a viewing, but I was so excited now, I decided to call one more and that one also went great. Now I had arranged two viewings for tomorrow morning.

Phew! The worst part is finally over!

Saturday,  22nd July

This is either the happiest or the worst day of my life and only time will tell which is it. This morning I was feeling so extremely nervous that I almost threw up. I’ve never been to a viewing of an apartment and I don’t do great with unfamiliar situations. What do I do there? What details I am supposed to notice? What questions I need to ask the agent?

Yesterday I thought that the worst was over, but today I was even more stressed and anxious. So much, that before leaving home, I Googled what to do at a viewing and what questions to ask. As it turns out, it is a pretty serious thing and I’m supposed to check everything and ask ALL my questions then and there. Which isn’t easy given that I only had about 15 minutes there. The first flat we saw was amazing. It was love at first sight. It was a lot bigger and nicer than it looked in the pictures. The second one however was way smaller and it was obvious that the pictures in the ad were taken before the current tenant moved in and trashed the place. So after viewing the second flat, I came home and called the agent to let him know – we were taking the first flat.

He took our information so he could send it to the landlord to either accept or decline. All we had to do was wait – the answer should be today or tomorrow. I was slowly realizing that waiting is one of the worst things ever. Thankfully it only took about 30 minutes (possibly the longest 30 minutes ever) till the landlord accepted us as possible tenants and we were asked to pay the first amount of money for referencing and to hold the flat. And now we wait again for the application that we need to fill out. Tomorrow is Sunday, so we are pretty sure nothing is going to happen…

Sunday, 23rd July

…But you never know. So we spent the whole day keeping our phones close in case somebody calls or e-mails. The nervous feeling never went away and the whole day we tried our best to keep ourselves busy by packing some of our things and playing card games. But nothing happened.

Monday, 24th July

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have found a pretty nice two bedroom flat where we don’t have to illegally smuggle in our cat. I thought that finding one would be the hardest part, but as the process goes forward, I realize, it was the easiest part. I think the only time I’ve been this stressed out was when we were moving to the UK, but even then there was a lot less to do or worry about.

For the past three days I’ve been calling and meeting with a lot of people to make sure everything will run smoothly. Today, late in the day (around 5PM) we have finally received our applications for the flat and have to fill them in. I have written countless e-mails and Whatsapp messages to our landlord and employer to find out all the necessary details, and to make sure they would give a recommendation for us. Once we are done, we can just wait and hope that we’ve done everything correctly. Next step is referencing. By the time we have filled both our applications, we know that we’ll be waiting till tomorrow again.

Meanwhile I keep praying that financially everything goes well and we can pay both the rent and deposit on time. I’m also already worrying about moving all our stuff (which we have a lot of) to the new place, since we don’t have our own car. And lastly, I hope that there won’t be any problems once we have moved into the new place. Oh, and – I need to remember to change our address EVERYWHERE, but I don’t even know if we’ll be moving 100%. Time, can you please hurry up so we can just be done with this week?

I already know that this post is going to be late, but I can’t organize my thoughts and write this properly until I have reached the end, whatever it might be. Either in our new home or still in the old one, looking for another one. Okay, let’s get back to filling out the application.

Tuesday, 25th July

Early in the morning we both received text messages from the referencing company that they have started the process. We even got a link where we can track the progress. Okay, so I know I’ve said this a few times already, but this really was the most stressful day so far. Today I think I completely annoyed both our landlord and my employer, bombarding them with text messages and calls asking when will they have a chance to fill out the referencing form, meanwhile feeling so anxious that I wanted to just crawl under the bed and stay there for the rest for the week. The question “What if something goes wrong?” was going on a loop in my head, like one of those annoying songs that get stuck in your brain and won’t leave no matter what you do. By the end of the day, the referencing for both of us was complete and I though I’ll finally be able to breathe. When a call from the agent came. Turns out everything is alright with my boyfriend, but in my referencing form, my employer has mentioned that I am leaving in August and they couldn’t find my future employers information. (Even though I had filled it in exactly where it said in the form) So now AGAIN we have to wait till tomorrow to sort this out. Arrgghh!!!

Wednesday, 26th July

When is this going to end? Is it ever going to end??

So, today our agent contacted the referencing (I am starting to dislike this word) company to find out what had happened. They could not find the information for my future employer, so I had to provide it again. And once again, we had to wait for them to process everything and for my future employer to fill out the form.

I would say this was probably one of the longest days of my life. To pass time I looked at the pictures of our flat and spent the whole day picking furniture and decorations I wanted to have there. I waited till late in the evening, but nothing else happened.

Thursday, 27th July

I was wrong before. This was the longest day ever.

Today I found out that instead of an online form like they sent for everyone else, they had asked my future employer to write a letter to them. Since he was not able to do that, we had to contact the agent and sort it out too. By the time it was all done, my new employer had already left the office. The referencing company works till 5PM today. My employer will only be able to fill out the form sometime around 5PM. So much stress!

At 5:17 I received a message that finally my referencing was also complete and we need to wait (again) for a call from the agent. Who, of course, had already left the office. So, again, we wait till tomorrow…

Friday, 28th July

This morning I got an e-mail from our agent saying that we need to bring over our passports for the Right to Rent. While there, we also paid our deposit, first months rent, tenancy agreement and inventory check fees. So that’s all done. Now any day now we should receive our tenancy agreement that we need to sign and on Monday they’ll do the inventory check and give us the keys.

We spent the weekend packing the rest of our things, including our bed and then slept for 3 days on a mattress on the floor. On Monday evening we finally got the keys to our flat, on Tuesday we went to the new flat to clean it before moving on Wednesday. Right now we have fully moved in and unpacked, and I’ve never been happier!

This is our brand new home. Here all but the last two pictures were taken the day before we moved in, that’s why all the rooms are so empty. To be fair, our bed was pretty much our only furniture, so the rooms are still pretty empty, but we’re slowly working on it.

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I did realize something while going through all of this – everything you want really is just outside your comfort zone. We’ve wanted to have our own place for so long, but we never really worked hard to get there. This whole week I’ve been so far out my comfort zone, I could barely see it by the end of the week. I’m sure it’ll catch up to me though.

The most frustrating part about this whole thing was that most of the things were out of our reach. The part where we actually had to do something was small and quickly done. Mostly we had to wait for other people to come through for us and do their part. And now we’re so thankful to everyone who did!

Thank you for reading! And if you’ve actually made it through the whole thing, you deserve a medal, because this was for sure the longest post I’ve ever written.

If you want to get in touch with me, here’s my info:

Twitter: laima_a

Instagram: laima.anna

Facebook: Laima Mikelsone

Love, Laima


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