Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Friday, 29 August 2014

FRIDAY FIVE: Five Tips for Viewing Flats

As I mentioned in my chatty catch up post last week, Kenny and I are moving to Glasgow. Although he's 32 and I'm 23 it's a big deal for us; I've never lived away from home, he's never lived anywhere but the town he grew up in and we've never lived together. Plus he's starting Uni, I'm job hunting, I have no idea whether to take the cat or let her stay with mum... and all the usual moving stress of course. So, rather than write posts that consist of me essentially flailing my arms around and sobbing, I thought I'd break it down and compile some notes and tips that might help someone else out there; after all I'm sure at this time of year there are a lot of you moving for college! Also, in case it wasn't already apparent, I'm in no way any kind of expert, but I've learned a bit through experience these past couple of weeks and I thought I'd share it!

Make sure you're on the same page as whoever you're planning to move in with, or, if it's a solo move, sit down and have a proper think about what you really want out of it. Before you even arrange viewings you should have this conversation - there's no point in viewing a flat that is a studio, if one person is adamant they need separate sleeping space; it's just going to lead to fights. The reality is, it's unlikely two people will agree on everything, but then it's good to discuss in advance where the compromises can be.For example, as a petite woman safely moving about a city is my main concern, the stairwell has to be secure and the street well lit and safe - I would give up almost anything else, but I wouldn't move somewhere I wasn't safe, or didn't feel safe. But other than that everything is really a 'like' rather than a 'need'

We've met a whole range of estate agents and tenants over the weeks ranging from the knowledgeable and helpful to the mute and irritable - but it's important to decide what you need to know and make sure to ask for that information. For example, a lot of the flats we're looking at are very old and have single glazing and electric heating - this for us is a no as it will cost a lot to run over the years. So we make a point of checking this out at every viewing and asking if there is gas in the building so that we could add gas heating in the future. We have a list of various other questions too (council tax, building factors etc.) and make sure that we get the info every time, or arrange for  it to be sent to us if the agent doesn't know (which is most of the time..)

 Take a tape measure! Many property websites have floor plans with measurements, almost all the ones we looked at were wrong. Some just out by a little bit, others were way out. When viewing flats, especially unfurnished ones, I recommend taking a tape measure to see how things would fit in. For example, often with the bedrooms we'd say; "yeah, if you put the bed along there then there's still space for storage over here" "There's no way the bed will fit there!!" "What?! yes it will,... I think" and ultimately it would all be a guessing game. Some issues about where things will fit are normal and unresolvable but with something like a double bed, well, that kind of is the size it is and so it's good to know what options you have for placing it and what room you'll have left to play with afterwards.

Like I said, we're viewing flats in Glasgow and, literally every flat of the dozen or so we've viewed so far has been an old tenement flat. That means they all have similar if not completely identical layouts. They're all one bedroom, they all have high ceilings and big windows. When you stand in a flat it may be easy to thing "there's no way I'm going to forget that carpet" but trust me, after a few they all start to blur together. Which one needed the new floor in the living room? Which one had the crack in the bathroom sink? Trust me when I say it will become very annoying and time consuming to try and piece it all back together afterwards. Take a notebook and make notes as you go, also, try and have a little debrief discussion in between viewings about what you all observed and what you thought of it.

Location, location, location as they say. Some information is readily available online, like where the nearest train station is and Google Street View can be helpful too - but nothing is the same as taking a stroll and sussing the local area. You can look for vandalism and litter (signs there may be unwelcome loitering) or, you can notice major construction beginning in the next block that undermines the 'quiet place to study' location, you can check out local shops and cafes and ask locals what the area is like too - remember even though you can control the inside of your flat, factors outside can have a major impact on your happiness there, so it's worth scoping things out.

And so those are my tips for viewing flats - I hope they are of some help to someone out there! I'm planning to do more posts on the whole flat moving process as it goes along, so keep an eye out for those posts popping up. Thanks for reading!

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