Challenge Betsy, Writing

A novel in progress – Live in Five – Stella’s Guide to Renting a Flat in London


  1. Visit property websites and earmark your favourites
  2. Realise you’d been looking at the rent per week, not per month
  3. Panic and realize you have to vastly downgrade your expectations
  4. Search again
  5. Realise you can’t afford to live in the area you fancied
  6. Realise you can’t afford to have a garden, or two bathrooms
  7. Realise you can’t afford to live on your own
  8. Desperately look around for someone to live with
  9. Find a friend of a friend of a friend
  10. Make awkward contact
  11. Try to establish the same budget and expectations
  12. Downgrade even further
  13. Settle on six mutually agreeable and barely affordable flats
  14. Contact estate and lettings agents
  15. Control panic when told that all the flats have been let
  16. Register with as many agents as possible, and give them your specs
  17. Make sure your phone is on loud
  18. Pounce on every call
  19. Arrange a viewing instantly for any flat that comes on to the market
  20. Arrive at agents and hide disappointment as you’re told you’ve missed the boat
  21. Repeat steps 16-20
  22. Arrive at agents, and jump in a Mini Cooper driven by a young man with slicked back hair and try to hold on to your lunch as he negotiates the area
  23. Arrive at flat. Hide disappointment as you establish it’s a squat. Not like a squat, but an actual squat. Or only has one bedroom. And an outside toilet. And it’s still above your budget
  24. Repeat step 23
  25. Arrive at flat that ticks all the boxes. Hide your excitement from the agent in case they try to up the price. Nonchalantly put in an offer
  26. Throw phone and any object within arm’s reach at the wall in frustration as agent informs you next day someone put down deposit IMMEDIATELY, so you’ve missed out again
  27. Repeat steps 20-26
  28. Ring parents in panic that you’ll never find somewhere to live. Consider sofa-surfing as a life choice
  29. Arrive at flat that ticks all the boxes. Throw money at agent. Sign every, and any, piece of paper they put in front of you. Hope you still have your soul. Realise in earlier panic you’ve gone over your budget, it’s nowhere near a tube stop, it’s unfurnished and there are neighbours above, below and on both sides, and ‘hang on, isn’t it the same flat you saw and disregarded two weeks ago?’ but you DON’T CARE
  30. Celebration drinks in local pub with flatmate who you now a) love having shared all your trials and tribulations or b) loathe because they’re a lazy bastard who let you do all the work. Spit out mouthful of wine when see price of wine

3 thoughts on “A novel in progress – Live in Five – Stella’s Guide to Renting a Flat in London

  1. Wow this is an opportune post if ever I saw one Betsy! I just had an hour’s Skype call earlier this evening (our time Perth 7 hours ahead of UK) with my younger daughter (22) who’s recently moved to London. She was very upset and despondent due to her struggles with her friend to find accommodation there. She’s currently sleeping on the couch at the flat of the guy her friend has been seeing for 3 to 4 months – not ideal! Although she has work it’s casual (bar work and a 1 day a week paid intern position with a jazz orchestra) so agents are being awkward. They want a guarantor – a parent (no problem we’ll do that from Australia) but even though we have a good income over here plus own our own house (here in Perth) and have a UK bank account to boot (plus we are British citizens and have most of our extended family still living there) that’s not acceptable as we have to be UK home owners. It’s proving to be a steep learning curve for her – not sure what’ll eventuate but I’ll copy this article and email it to her. Any ideas and suggestions gratefully received!


    • Oh, what a nightmare for her. I can sympathise so much! London is such a tough place to live. I remember that I used Walton estate agents, which I definitely found the best of a bad bunch. Do you have any relatives in the UK who can vouch for her? I suppose that having a full time job helps. I hope she manages to get it all sorted. Sorry to not be much help!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that Betsy and you have been helpful just reading the article was a useful insight! We lived in London for 9 years until 1990 but had jobs lined up before we left uni so it made life easier to get a flat (and I’m talking 1980’s here!). My London based cousins kindly said they’d act as guarantor for her but then she got a lucky break (through my cousins again) and is going to take a room in Queen’s Park being vacated by a girl who’s been transferred up north for work and was having to break her lease otherwise.Only problem is that she has had to drop out of a flat that she and her friend were just about to sign up for (out of desperation it was way out of her price range!) and that has understandably upset her friend (and she’s currently lodging temporarily with the friend and her friend’s boyfriend in his flat). Rather a nightmare and a huge learning curve for her (we did try and warn her before she left Australia what it would be like!!!). At least she’s making progress, has some work and from next week (I hope) an ongoing flat but she’s been finding it tough going. I love visiting London when I come over to the Uk but could never live there now!


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