Friday, 17 August 2007

Reconsidering Renting

Gee, I hate this - pumping so much money into someone else's mortgage because even though we could afford to pay off a mortgage, we can't get a big enough one to get a decent place. Anyway, since people have been asking and I'm sick of typing variations of this out on messenger over and over, this is what's happening with us.

If we'd really wanted to, we could've stayed in this house until March with the same rent, because the lease we signed was kinda weird - basically 2 years with an 18 month get-out. We're going to be here 19 months though, because with the trip back to Australia and Graeme's inability to read the lease conditions properly (we had to give 60 days notice, not 4 weeks) it just worked out better that way. The reason we decided to move on is two-fold: primarily because this place just doesn't work for us like it should, in terms of liveability and value for money; secondly because we are already starting to think about what we will do when Elizabeth comes over and wants/needs some living space in our place. So we decided to look for somewhere now that was big enough to accommodate all three of us with the knowledge that even if we pushed our budget for 6 months to afford it, once Elizabeth arrives and contributes to the rent we will actually be better off. The idea was to sign an 18 month lease so we would be in that one place until we head home in (northern hemisphere) Spring 2008. So we started looking and saw a couple of places that were awful, a couple that were too far out of our budget and one that seemed ok - a garden flat in a converted terrace house, same sort of thing we have now but slightly bigger and laid out much better, including a second bedroom that is actually big enough to live in. We decided we may as well put an offer in for that. Yeah, an offer. Real estate here is SOOOO dodgy - it's not regulated properly and all the people who work in it seem totally untrustworthy in everything they say and do. Anyway, if you see a place you like, you submit a thing saying "this is who I am and this is how long I'd like to live in that property and how much I'm willing to pay" and then it becomes a big long process (especially when, like us, you submit an offer under the asking price and can't move in for about 7 weeks) where you know the agent is trying to play both sides and get the best possible commission for themselves - will you pay more, can you move sooner, etc. Since we've got so long, we're not budging, figuring we can let that come to whatever conclusion its going to come to (you're not obliged in any way, even if the offer is accepted, until the contract is signed) while we look at other places. Here's the catch. Everyone else Graeme has contacted basically isn't interested in helping us because of the fact that we're still so far out from the move. Because it is summer and actually warm enough to be moving house, the 'market is very active' so unless the place isn't available until October, we're not going to be the most attractive tenants. And since most leases do only require 4 weeks notice, we really need to give it a couple of weeks before we start really searching again, which is fine, because we've now decided we need that time to decide what we're going to do...

We're NOW thinking that we might completely downgrade for 6 months. We're not expecting any visitors or anything and we still don't know how much work I will or won't get, so maybe we should just get a studio or one-bedroom for less money so we can be saving more. (we're well aware that a share house would be even cheaper, but that's so not going to happen) Then, when Elizabeth gets here, or is close to arriving, we look for somewhere bigger with the knowledge that we will have 3 people contributing to expenses. Of course, this means moving twice, which I can't say I love, but since most rental places here are furnished, it's nowhere near as big a deal as moving an entire house-full of stuff. Plus we'd be living in the smaller place over winter, when you don't need things like gardens, because you never go out in them anyway.

OK, that was long, but I think I've explained what the situation is so I shouldn't have to do so again. I've been thinking a lot about my ideal living situation and dreaming of a cool little community with family and friends all living in well-proportioned houses on a giant property that has a communal swimming pool and play equipment and lots of space to run around...


  1. I assume places in Englund would be better insulated for the cold, so, this may be useless, but one advantage of a studio would be that heating should be cheaper because you're only trying to heat the one place.

  2. Yeh places in england are on the most very well insulated - they have to be. So most places have double glazed windows to keep whatever warmth in.

    Even though they are more insulated you still need to run the heating system (most places have gas radiators) and yes a smaller place == smaller gas bill.

    That said we don't have a very expensive gas bill because we are overly judicious with our heating use - ie. we put on jumpers and use the heating only in bursts to get the place warm. A standard english person leaves the heating on most of the time they are home (on thermostat) and keeps it at a temperature that requires shorts and tee shirts inside.

  3. In reply to Graeme's reply: English people are crazy.
    I'm going with the, if you're not having any visitors over the next 6 months, is it worth paying that much more a week for empty space? But it's up to you.

  4. yeah, we're pretty much decided that something small and cosy will be good for winter and then we can try for something with a garden for the summer. and yes, heating will be cheaper. i just hope we can fit all our stuff in somewhere smaller - somehow we have already accumulated a lot of stuff...