What I Rent: Sarah, £1,000 a month for a two-bedroom flat in KentOctober 26, 2021
Fancy a nose around another person’s home? You’re in the right place.
What I Rent is a weekly series that takes you inside people’s rented properties, exploring the good, the overpriced, and the teeny-tiny.
Last time we were in Newham, London, with Irem, who rents a one-bedroom flat for £1,260 a month.
This week we’re chatting with Sarah, 31, who works for the world’s oldest hop merchant, dealing with craft breweries around the UK.
She rents a two-bedroom flat in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with her three-year-old daughter.
Hi, Sarah! How much do you pay to live here?
I pay £1,000 pcm in rent and bills come in at around £350 to £400, not including my childcare or food costs.
I use the local community larder for a lot of my food. Then spend about £200 on top of this. And childcare costs are approximately £700-£800pcm.
And what do you get for what you pay?
We have two bedrooms, two receptions and one bathroom.
Do you feel like you have a good deal?
I do not think it was a very good deal. There is absolutely zero storage space.
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The lady that lives upstairs has been here decades and says when the last tenant passed away, they covered the storage above the internal window in the kitchen. We have single glazed windows, nothing to stop noise from neighbours above.
There is peeling wallpaper, mould around the windows… just to name a few of the downfalls.
But location was important to me after my daughter’s father and I split in December 2020. I really didn’t want to move her from a nursery school she is doing extremely well at. It takes us less than five minutes to walk there.
Plus, even though the outside of the flat needs work too, there is a little garden area, which is a huge bonus.
But no, I do not feel it is worth £1,000 a month. I was just desperate to find something at a time the market was going crazy.
What do you think of the area?
We are in Kent, right on the border with East Sussex. On the main Hastings-Charing Cross line into London.
I love the area. We are an hour from the South Coast, an hour from Central London. There are many parks and a lot of things to do locally, especially events throughout the summer, live music, food festivals, markets and lots of child-friendly things too.
How did you find the property?
Do you feel like you have enough space in the flat?
Space wise it is good. But at least some kind of storage would be helpful. Again, having some space outside is a huge plus.
How have you made the property feel like home?
Due to my ex still having most of mine and my daughters belongings, everything has been second hand, a lot of it free.
There are great local Facebook pages in the neighbouring roads and also a Tunbridge Wells wide page called Waste Not Want Not. Over the months I have collected things to make us comfortable enough.
Are you keen to do any decorating? Is your landlord okay with you making changes?
The landlord has said they are happy for me to put up curtain rails, which need to either be left when I leave or I pay for any covering of the sign of them at that time, and I use command strips to hang the few pictures I have on the walls.
I have not and will not attempt any decorating due to the poor state it is in – I believe this should be actioned by the landlord. Also I just could not afford to do this myself.
What are the major issues with the place?
The mould, the cold and noise from neighbours. Especially when upstairs is at work, her daughter dances around in their living room, right above my daughter’s bedroom, just as I’m trying to put her to bed.
The lady who owns the lease next door has also just started renting her flat out on Airbnb, so there are lots of random people coming and going.
Do you have plans to move again any time soon?
Yes, as soon as my lease is up and I can spend some time finding the right place.
But we will try to stay as close to this property as possible due to the great community – and by that time my daughter will at the primary school around the corner, which is very highly sought after.
What about buying a place?
I would love to own my own property, but with having to claim Universal Credit, my wage would need to be double, at least, to survive on my own as a single mum.
It is looking impossible to save for a deposit. Although I do have a lifetime ISA that I put a few pounds in here and there, when I can.
Shall we take a look around?
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.
Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.
If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected] You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.
Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.
We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).
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