The time has come where I have moved out from the safety of my parent’s home and out into the big wide world. It’s expensive, stressful, scary and you’ll question your ability as a fully functioning adult. There will be bills, budgeting, no more just raiding the fridge which magically restocks once a week and now keeping the place clean is solely your responsibility. It’s a steep learning curve so I thought I’d share my personal experiences of buying my first flat and everything in it for the first time – maybe it’ll help someone!
- Finding a place is hard. Like so hard. Your expectations are so high and then you come to realise what your money will actually buy you. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I thought: ‘they want how much for an extra bedroom even though it’s the size of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs?’ If like me you live in the commuter belt of the London area or even in London itself, your money doesn’t stretch as far. You’ll find yourself looking up north and really thinking about whether you could change jobs and move somewhere else. There will be days when you see nothing online and feel sad, there will be days where you do a tonne of viewings and it doesn’t feel right. But the right feeling will come and it will be oh so worth it – stick at it!
- When you know, you know. We walked into this one flat and it was great, a good size at a semi reasonable price but we didn’t get in there with an offer in time. At first I was gutted because I felt like we were back to the beginning, but then suddenly something else appeared and it was even better than the last. I immediately made an offer within 10 minutes of being in the flat and it was accepted a few hours later. All those months of waiting was worth it and now we have the place we always wanted. What was better was that we could afford it. We could afford one property but we felt so meh about the layout and size; the owners made us feel like this is the best we could ever get. I can now see that property across the valley from my balcony and I have to say I’m feeling pretty sweet now!
- Solicitors and the legal stuff will become the biggest pain in your ass. It’s expensive, they take ages to do anything and then suddenly want everything from you all at once. The seller’s solicitors will get grumpy at yours and vice versa. My only advice is to do some real research before you instruct a solicitor and then try to relax. You’re literally paying them to take care of the difficult legal stuff for you and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand any of the paperwork and once you finally complete and the pick up the keys – a giant weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Let them do their job and it will all be over soon.
- Searches are a must. You need to know if there’s any risks to your property such as flooding and that your investment is actually viable. Also definitely get the Chancel Repair Liability Insurance as this prevents a church from charging you for repair costs. The 500 year old law allows churches to charge fees to any properties in their parishes. You cannot not pay it, no matter your financial position or beliefs unless you take out insurance against it. It’s a one off fee and could save you thousands!
- If you buy a flat, you also have the leasehold to bare in mind, extending a lease can be expensive once it begins to run out so make a plan as to whether you want to extend or sell before it gets to that point!
- When you pick up your keys you’ll notice things you didn’t notice before. When the previous owner moves out and takes their furniture with them, you might find scuffs and even a few holes in the plastering. Don’t panic, it’s easily fixed and your furniture will be in soon too!
- Check out the boiler, make sure the hot water works and just do a quick survey around the property so you get used to switches, heating etc.
- Buy a steam mop and a hoover and clean, clean, clean. It’ll feel more like yours once you’ve given it a good clean!
- When you have literally nothing but the odd bits of furniture, Ikea will become both your best friend and worst enemy. Sure walking around the showroom is fun whilst you mess around choosing things. You’ll feel great with your stomach filled with meatballs and a long list of all the cool, matching furniture you’ve purchased. You’ll walk out with a big smile on your face as you clutch your receipt for the next day home delivery including the £10 fee so you don’t have to go pick your items from the warehouse. You’ll raise an eyebrow as the 25 flat pack boxes are lugged into the property by the poor delivery drivers who are wondering what they did wrong to get given your delivery. You’ll feel optimistic that you’ll work quickly, screwdriver in hand with a determination to complete your biggest DIY project yet. But 2 and a half hours into building the first item, in our case the bed, you’ll want to stab your partner with that very screwdriver after he accuses you of not holding that beam straight enough for the 10th time that minute. Breathe, take a break and don’t attempt it all in one day! Just get the bed and sofa up and you’re good to go. You can always build things around you, just get the essentials ready.
- Argos will also become your best friend as they sell every single thing you need to furnish the place. With Fasttrack delivery for £3.95, you can even get the stuff same day! Which means you won’t have to wait too long to make yourself a brew with that new kettle you’ve been eyeing up!
- Budget what you need to buy and get the essentials first. Sure those candles and scatter cushions look so cute but you desperately need a baking tray and potato peeler. You will never appreciate your Mother’s kitchen appliances more when you realise how much bloody cutlery and tools you need!
- Bills. Council Tax. TV License. Contents & Building Insurance. Phone & Internet Packages. These are the things you need to sort out. The utilities will be in the paperwork of the property so give them a call, take some readings when you first get the keys and make sure a final reading was taken.
- First night is takeaway night!! Relax on your first evening and worry about cooking the next day.
- Cooking is fun! There are tonnes of recipe websites and recipe books out there. Recreate your favourites from home and make some new traditions yourself. I bought the cutest chalk board to write a little menu on for the week! It feels so much nicer when you’ve made something from scratch and your cooking skills will increase as time goes on.
- Try to have fun! Yes it’s scary, daunting, you might also feel very anxious. But very soon you’ll be in your own place and nothing beats that feeling. Everything around you is yours, everything you have you have worked hard for. It’s the stepping stone to bigger things and the start of an amazing journey.
As I write this, we have finally built all our furniture and the place is looking great. We have decided our final move day will be the 14th December so if you’d like a flat tour, let me know in the comments below!
If you have any experiences or advice you’d love to share which could help anyone moving for the first time, pop them in the comments below. You could even help me as I embark on my new journey as a fully independent adult!
Emily Mae x