For those not in the know, What I Rent is our weekly series that takes you inside people’s homes, to get a proper picture of what renting is like in the UK and beyond.
We had to take a break due to coronavirus and lockdown measures, which meant we couldn’t safely send our usual photographers to nose around people’s properties.
But we missed looking at people’s homes enough that we’ve worked on a way around this – and it doesn’t even involve sending in dogs with cameras strapped to their backs.
This week we’re chatting with Steph, 20, a social media and content exec for a homeware brand based in Battersea.
Steph is originally from Oxfordshire and lived with her parents before making the move to London in October 2019, after getting fed up of spending four hours a day commuting into work.
Now, she rents a flatshare in Wimbledon, London, with one other housemate.
Hey, Steph! How much do you pay to live here?
I pay a total of £800 a month towards rent and bills (my housemate contributes about the same).
And what do you get for what you pay?
There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I have the ensuite room and my housemate uses the main bathroom. The flat also has an open plan kitchen/living space and a balcony, which we share.
I share the flat with one other person. We found each other on SpareRoom as she was looking for someone to replace the previous housemate who was moving out.
Do you think you have a good deal?
Yes, definitely! For people living outside of London it may seem like a lot for a room. But it’s very hard to find a large space with your own bathroom for less than £900pcm (and I’m talking a proper bathroom, not a bedroom with a shower cubical in the corner).
Plus, Wimbledon is a really lovely area and easy to travel around the City from.
How did you find this place?
It was advertised on SpareRoom by my current housemate who needed to fill the room. I think I was super lucky as it was the first and only property I viewed when deciding to move to London from Oxfordshire. I knew I had to snap it up quick as room-renting is super competitive in London!
How have you made the flat feel like home?
As the living/kitchen area is shared, I focused on making my bedroom and bathroom feel like home.
My room came furnished with two sets of drawers, however they are a horrible dark brown and black so I’ve hidden them in my wardrobe and replaced with some nicer Ikea ones. This gave me more of a blank canvas to layer up printed bedding, pretty throws, rugs and cushions.
I am also obsessed with little planters and vases – I think these can add loads of personality to a space.
I hate ceiling spotlights, so I have a couple bedside table lamps to make things feel more cosy and less jarring.
I’m definitely not a fan of magnolia walls and I am not planning to stay here long enough to make it worth the while painting them. So, as a compromise I put up a few framed prints to distract the eye.
Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting?
I haven’t really done any ‘proper’ decorating apart from putting a few frames on the wall. I also want to get my full deposit back, so don’t plan on making any permanent changes.
On the other hand, it seems as though the flat hasn’t seen a paint brush since 2008 when it was built. So, if anything, I’d be doing my landlord a favour!
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Prior to lockdown I felt like the flat was spacious enough for my needs. However, since lockdown I have at times felt a bit of cabin fever when confined to just two rooms.
I definitely do not see this flat being big enough for more than two people – even in post-lockdown times…
Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?
Overall the flat is pretty well behaved. However, as it is part of a new build development, you can tell lots of features were not finished to the highest standard and most likely on a cheap budget.
I live on the fourth floor of a seven-floor block, so as to be expected, I am often trying to work out what kind of activity my upstairs neighbours are doing that makes so much noise!
The flat holds heat very well, sometimes too well. Which is great on reducing our bills as we never need to put the heating on. But, when there’s a British heatwave…
And not so much a problem, more a preference… the living room/kitchen is furnished with so much grey and I HATE grey! Sorry, Mrs Hinch fan club.
Do you have plans to move again?
My tenancy is due for renewal in October and I am still yet to decide if I am staying or not. I really really want my own place to rent, but it’s not so easy finding one within my budget.
I recently found out about the London Living Rent scheme which could make renting my own place more affordable.
Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?
It’s not massively important to me to own a property right now. Also, being a homeowner in London will require many years of saving for a deposit when your paying out so much for rent each month!
However, I love interior design and would one day love to have free rein on renovating my own place.