Flat Hunting From Another Country
{Part 1}

There is already a lot of research and work that goes into finding a home.
Doing this in another country, from another country - makes things a little more difficult.
A lot more difficult.

For those of you who are going through/may be going through a jump across countries.
I've got a mini  (meaning I broke it up in parts because it's not mini at all) guide for how to go about this in an organized way.

This is pretty specific to London, but I'm sure this can relate to any type of apartment hunt as well.

Heather and I have been at this for quite a while now.
We've gone through the dirt and grime of the hunt,
and feel like we could be estate agents ourselves,
with how much we now know about renting in London.

Going into this, you are starting from scratch,
so you need to lay down the foundation (the easy stuff) to this building process.
The preparation.

What are the things that are most important for you to have in your home
for the next 12+ months?

1) Budget
 - This is probably the most important of anything I'll list- make sure you know your exchange rate with the British Pound - if I had a guess, I'd say it sucks.  The British Pound is one of the most expensive currencies in the world, so unless you live around the Persian Gulf, you're probably going to be hurting with this.
Now, accept the fact that you are going to be converting everything for the unforeseeable future. 
London is expensive. Like New York City, but more expensive. So having a budget of what you'll be spending a month for everything will help you figure out how much you'll be able to spend in rent.

An example list of things you may be paying for on a monthly basis:
Utilities (Gas, Water, Electricity, Wifi, Cable)
Transportation (Tube Pass)
Mobile Phone Bill

This may also include a Council Tax if you are in London for work.
(Council Tax - basically a monthly fee everyone have to pay to simply live in London - used to pay for local services i.e. police force, firefighters, trash collectors, etc.) 
Full-time students do not have to pay Council Tax in the city - make sure you know this if you are a student. Council Tax is a pretty expensive bill, so being exempt can make a noticeable difference.

You'll want to have a general idea of how much money you will have monthly to spend, then break these payments down to how much you can spend on each.
It's a bit of a process, but having the clearest idea of how much you will be spending makes the next few steps easier to get through.

2) Transportation Links
-  Commuting through London is a long enough process - you definitely want to make it as easy as you can.  If you have a job or are going to university, know what Tube lines are nearest to wherever the place is.  You'll want your flat to either be near a direct line, or where you are only needed to make one line change during your commute.

3) Safety
- I'll get into areas in the next section, but this is something to take note on from the start.  Safety is very important to me - meaning I want to be able to walk home from the Tube Station by myself at 10PM at night and not feel like I need to kick off my heels and make a sprint for it to keep myself out of danger.
This may mean finding a property in a safer, wealthier area, or preferring to look at flats that are within a close distance to your Tube Station - we choose this, meaning we normally look into flats that are (at most) around 0.5 miles away from the station.
You may be more okay with a flat that is a mile away from transportation, or you may not want to go farther than a quarter-mile. It all depends on you, and what you are most comfortable with.

4) Convenience to Necessities
 - Being near these shops just makes life easier. Groceries, Cosmetics, etc. - in my previous flat, we were right down the street from a Tesco (grocery store), and a few blocks away from a mini-Boots (health, pharmacy, cosmetics, etc).  You want to be close enough to these that if you need to make a quick run to pick something up, you'll be able to with ease.

5) Furnished Flat
- This is a necessity simply because if you are reading my blog, you are probably somewhat similar to me and don't have enough money to ship furniture, or buy furniture on top of your rental fee.  This is okay - London always deals with internationals, and many properties are available furnished for you. Just make sure the ad lists the property as furnished, or ask about this when in communication with the agent/landlord.

6) Miscellaneous Needs&Wants
- Do you prefer a double bed, or are you able to survive with a single? What about a desk? Do you need a washing machine in the flat, or are you okay with going to a laundromat?  Do you like the idea of living in a residential area, or more of a place with nightlife and things to do?  Little things like these questions will come into play later on in this process.

This is a general list of the first things that Heather and I discussed.
Once we created the big picture of 'what' we wanted,
we were able to move on to part two - 'where' we wanted it

Check out part two --> HERE


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