Being at university is a rollercoaster of adventure, one of which is moving out of dorms and into your very own flat! I lived on campus, in dorms, during my first year of university and although a part of me was super sad that first year was coming to an end, I was also very excited to be starting a new experience!
This was the first time I’d be living alone away from home. Although I wouldn’t be completely alone because I moved in with my friend Marissa, and we named our little nest, The Island (because we’re both from Island homes). We fell in love with it the moment we saw it, and knew that we wanted this to be our home for the next two years.
I know that moving to a new place and going to university, especially in a busy city like London can be daunting and scary. Here’s everything I learnt about moving out, the search for a new place and a few other tips about moving into a flat in London, from a chick just trying to adult.
Study Abroad in London: Finding the Perfect Flat
How early should you start looking?
We started looking for a place about 2 weeks before we were due to move out of dorms. Okay yes maybe this was pushing it a little bit, but it did all work out.
We booked a viewing for the flat, fell in love with it and didn’t need to see any others! We signed the agreement and moved in within a week! Another reason we left it a bit later was because we wanted to make sure we got the best option available for us at the time.
If you look too early then you risk a better option coming up later but you’d already have agreed to something else. Alternatively, you could find a place months before you’re due to move in, love it, and then realise the landlord is looking for someone to move in right away. But one good thing about London is that although they can be pricey, there are always a lot of spaces available to rent.
There’s absolutely no harm in looking as early as you want, but maybe don’t leave it to the very last minute.
How to find your perfect flat
There are a few places you can look to find available spaces to rent. We used rightmove.com to find our flat. You simply can input your area, number of rooms and price range and all the options will pop up.
Other good sights are Zoopla, OnTheMarket, OpenRent, FindProperty, GumTree, SpaceRoom, the list goes on. All you have to do pop a quick search in google. Alternatively you can go straight to the estate agents. We’re with Keatons and their service has always been spot on.
If you see something you think you like on a website, reach out to the agents or landlord IMMEDIATELY and get more information because although there are plenty, properties go super fast.
Make sure to visit the flat in person before deciding on anything. We only saw the one flat and instantly fell in love with it so we didn’t even bother going elsewhere but do make sure you go see the area and the house so you get a feel of whether you’ll be comfortable there.
What your ‘perfect flat’ looks like or has is up to your preference. You may want to be close to your university or college, or at least close enough to the tube or bus station. Maybe you’d like to be near the shops, or off the main road, or away from a busy school area. Those are all things you’ll be able to see on under the details of your property on the websites.
Living alone or finding the right flatmate
You might prefer your own space, maybe you’re a lone wolf, a free bachelor or bachelorette and renting your new flat is a chance to gain some growth in learning to be with your company. In which care you may want to look for a one bedroom place all for yourself.
More likely though, you’re going to need someone to split the rent with, especially in a city like London, where rent prices can be a bit ridiculous. So you’re going to be looking for potential flatmates.
Finding the right flatmate is the key to a happy next few years. You have to be comfortable having honest conversations with the person you’re moving in with. The new place is as much theirs as it is yours so you need to be able to accept each other’s little habits (of which you will learn they have many) and respect their boundaries and privacy right from the get-go.
Maybe you’ll decide to move in with complete strangers, or maybe it’ll be someone you’ve been friends with for a while now. Either way, you need to be confident enough to have real life conversations and to be honest. The rest will follow.
Discuss and know your budget beforehand
Plan a budget beforehand and don’t look at flats above it. Just don’t cause yourself the pain. You don’t want to fall in love with something you can’t afford.
Find out how bills work and what exactly you’ll be paying for so you can take these into account too. When we moved in, the utility providers sent us letters as the new tenants and we got to decide how we wanted to pay the bills. You can pay them monthly or quarterly or a fixed price but it’s fairly easy to figure out what’s what if you check online or give them a call.
I had to learn how to read an energy meter! Just kidding, I still don’t know how to do it… We also had to connect WiFi and it took about a week for them to send us a new router but we got a good package is not too expensive (we use BT).
Make an inventory of your flat and the things you’ll need to buy
Although most agents and landlords will do this anyway, make a little inventory of your flat before you move in. This is so that you know what the place looked like when you arrived, if anything is broken you can have the agency organise to have it fixed and they’ll know it wasn’t you. Also note the things that aren’t yours, if the house is already furnished, so that you don’t take anything that’s not yours when you leave.
Making an inventory also allows you to know what you’ll need to buy. When we moved in, we took a much needed trip to Ikea to pick up a few bits and bobs (mainly a beautiful new rug), in order to make the new place feel like our home.
Planning your move
So you have your new place, your new flatmates and the big day is approaching. Don’t start packing your old place (your dorm room if you’ve been living in halls of residence) at the last minute. Just don’t do it. You never realise how much stuff you own until you have to wrap everything up and package them into boxes.
If you’re moving from home you won’t really have as strict a deadline to move out, as you would if you were renting.
You may want to look into a small moving company to help you bring your stuff over, or you could make a few uber trips, depending on how expensive that would be. If you’re lucky, maybe you have a relative nearby, or a friend with a car who you could ask to come help you move, in exchange for inviting them for dinner once you’re all settled in.
Use the packing as a chance to declutter
While you’re packing, why not take some time to do a good spring clean and get rid of the stuff that you don’t need anymore or things that you shouldn’t really keep. When I was moving out, I gave a bunch of my clothes to charity and ended up throwing out so much stuff I completely forgot I had.
This meant that unpacking in the new flat was so much more fun and I was ready for a brand new start!
For an extra bit of fun, while I was moving out of dorms and into the new place I filmed a video to mark the occasion. I thought maybe you guys would be curious enough to want to see it so I uploaded it here!
Click on the video below to check out a few snippets from the moving out process, and the before and after of our new home.
Thank you so much for watching!!!
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next!