It turns out that finding an apartment (or flat as it were) in the UK is not such an easy thing.
In Canada we have a robust rental market offered by individuals with less stringent rental requirements and more flexibility due to the interpersonal nature of the relationship. That’s how I rented my townhouse in Canada, through an ad on Kijiji. I was lucky enough to find two wonderful professional women and we came to a rental agreement which suited us all.
In the UK there seems to be a much higher ratio of apartments rented out by letting agents, which normally have much more stringent requirements, such as minimum incomes and credit checks. They’re also managed by what appear to be real estate professionals (gag! hehehe) who, of course, have busy schedules and offices which don’t always pass on information well, although some were great.
I was in a difficult spot, staying in a hotel without a permanent address, which I needed to apply for my National Insurance Number (aka Social Insurance Number). But in order to get an apartment so I would have a permanent address I needed to find a job. And to find a job I needed my National Insurance Number (remind me to tell you the story about how I lost two banking job opportunities because they couldn’t perform a background or pre-employment check because I lacked a permanent address, UK bank account or National Insurance Number), something had to give!
Ultimately I was offered a job, which allowed me to immediately intensify my apartment search. About a week later I finally stumbled upon this place, was lucky enough to impress my landlady and we signed a rental agreement with a quick move in date. Another unique point is that here in the UK estate agents and landlords host open houses for viewings, they generally didn’t offer any individual viewings.
My new apartment is in a quintessential Edinburgh style building, and is a typical Scottish flat: small, compact, radiators, and sanded wood floors. I LOVE IT!!! I’m so lucky to have found such a wonderful place, with an amazing bus stop just across the road, which is too convenient, and allows me to get to work no problem.
The day before I was set to move in I went to the bank to take out money for a deposit and first month rent. As I was walking back to my hotel I slipped, rolled my ankle quite badly and skinned my knee. I can only imagine how graceful I looked, on my hands and knees in the middle of the sidewalk, then limping the next 200m back to the hotel. Everything ended up being fine, minus the ruined leggings, bloody knee, and bruised and swollen ankle. It was also less than ideal lugging my duffel bag and backpack up 3 flights of stairs when I got the keys to my place the next day.
But I survived! I went to the grocery store just around the corner, bought some bedding and spent the rest of the weekend with my feet up 🙂
The only thing left to say is that the couch is a sofa bed……so my friends and family should keep that in mind, no excuse really, not to come see me!