QUOTE (snoo @ Sep 7 2009, 06:39 PM)
I have moved many times in the last 6 years
^ Sounds like me!! Not good for the ol' credit check, mind you.
One word to keep in mind, from a financial perspective, is contingency: try, if you can, ensure you have money set aside for the unexpected. Even just a few untouched quid can help when something suddenly needs attention.
There is a massive difference between being able to 'afford' a place, and being able to 'afford a place and live'. It's all very well acknowledging that you have the £XXXX.XX each month to cover the £XXXX.XX bills/food each month. But then what? Do you have enough money to enjoy a bit of life occasionally? Will the odd cinema trip push the budget? Will visiting friends by car/bus/tube/hovercraft cost a little bit too much. As Sir. Psycho Sexy said, quite rightly, you do NOT want to become dependant on loans and credit cards. Indeed, if you can avoid them altogether, then all the better! Due to various circumstances and bad decisions, I have my fair share of credit card debt that I will soon be back in a position to hack away it. But having those numbers having over your head can affect everything from your stress levels, to the chances of getting positive credit checks for things you DO need.
Be aware that no matter how good your forecasting, you will probably forget to include a particular cost in your budget. For example, Mata suggested checking if the phone line is there/operating/connected, etc. If has been disconnected because the previous person did not pay their bill on time, or the property has been empty for a while, etc, then you may have to incur a charge to get it connected again. It's nothing backbreaking usually, but it's yet another cost.
Some of your monthly bills like council tax, and utilities like electric, water, and gas, often have discounted rates for people living alone. I don't know if this is going to be the case for you but, for example, I get approximately 30% off my council tax as a "Single Person's Allowance." Every little helps
As a tenant, always check in your agreement who is responsible for maintaining items that remain in the property - from furnishings (if any), to electrical applicances, boilers, radiators, etc. Some landlords will expect you to cover the costs of repair, and some will do it themselves.
Finally... negotiate! No matter what the agent's price is, you should not expect to pay that. I got about 12% off the monthly rent of my current flat. Sometimes negotiation isn't as simple as getting cheaper rent. Sometimes you can get the landlord to pay your council tax instead, or your water rates (because he can put this through as an expense, thus reducing his tax bill, rather than just taking a cut in income), or create a more flexible agreement. Obviously, negotiation is a lot more limited in high-demand areas. But give it a shot
I was shown around my current flat by a letting agent who told me it had been on their books for a couple of months without any real interest, and that initially the landlord had actually wanted to sell it, but got no takers. He had chucked out his previous tenants prior to putting it on the market, and so I could assume that by this point he was fairly eager to start making money on it once again. Through the agents, I offered about 12% below his asking price and was told that he would drop about 5%. I said no, I wasn't willing to go to that price and, a little later that day, I got another phone call from the agent saying that he was willing to go to my price, but only if I had a 1 year minimum lease. My reply? No... I want it at my price, with a lease that includes a six-month break clause in case I want out earlier. He accepted
To be fair, you can't always push the landlord/agents too far in all cases.
I know that the general rule for buying
a property is that, ordinarily, you should be able to pay at least
5% below the marketed value. I'm not sure how it stands with renting, but saving money is always worth a shot. Anybody that agrees the rent or purchase price without at least TRYING to negotiate is foolish, I think.
And finally (I know I said finally earlier, but I just remembered something else): never agree on a property based on one viewing. This might seem obvious, but I know several people that have signed documents and moved in, having only viewed the property once. You need to see those bricks at least twice before you even make the offer.
... take a drive, if you can, around the area at night and during school exit times, to see what kind of "behaviour" takes place in the area. During the day, when most of the street is at work or school, it might seem wonderfully pleasant. But once the schools empty, or the sun comes down, things can change drastically.