It is a well-known fact that finding the right flat in Edinburgh can be a bit of a nightmare.
They are either way out of your price range (£2000 for a two bedroom isn’t really an option on a student budget) or you have to compete with what seems to be 200 other people who are just as desperate as you are.
From someone who has been through this process a couple of times here are a few bits of advice to make your search a little bit easier.
- Stick to your budget
If you are moving in with a group of friends, make sure from the start that you are on the same page when it comes to your budget. Keep in mind that some people might have a bigger budget than others and try to negotiate something that works for everyone. If you can’t agree don’t be afraid to back out and feel pressured to move into a place you can’t really afford.
While browsing through flats most websites let you search for a specific price. While it may be useful to look for flats that exceed the budget by a small amount as it gives you more results, bear in mind that in most flats your bills and internet aren’t included so these will need to be paid on top of the rent as well as your other monthly costs.
- Check the letting agency
When applying for flats with a letting agency it is important to find out in advance what you need to hand in with your application. Some agences require credit checks which you have to pay for yourself. So if you don’t think you will pass it you might want to give this particular flat a miss.
It is also useful to find reviews of the letting agency online. You will have to deal with these people a lot and it is good to know in advance if they won’t be responding to your calls or emails.
- Know where to look
This is a pretty obvious one but useful nonetheless. Gumtree, Rightmove and Zoopla are good starting off points. If you have some more time it might be a good idea to check out the websites of particular letting agencies as you may find some hidden treasure.
If you moving by yourself and looking for a room in a flat share, spare room is always a good idea. If you are on facebook I also recommend the Edinroom page which is a platform for people from Edinburgh to post and find available rooms in the city. Be careful though as it is private there are some scams out there so always make sure you have seen the flat before you pay or sign anything.
- Know what to look out for
When you are at a flat viewing there are a few important things to look out for. It is known that Edinburgh has a pretty widespread mouse problem, so it is likely that you will encounter the odd mouse in your home. Still if you see any signs of mice (you probably won’t see an actual mouse as they are quite shy, but look out for their poop it is small and black!), mouse damage (like bites in the furniture or on the wall) or mouse holes in the wall I recommend not moving in. This is often a sign that the mouse problem is more severe than just the odd mouse. Having lived in a flat like that, I can tell you that it is not fun to be surprised by a mouse running past while you’re studying.
I also recommend looking out for signs of dampness and mould, this can lead to very serious health problems and with essays and exams you really don’t need that in your life.
Lastly the most obvious one, look out for any damages and speak to the person at the viewing to make sure this gets repaired before you move in.
- Be flexible, but not too flexible
It might be useful to be a bit more flexible when it comes to the area you want to live in or the size of your room. It is unlikely that you will find your dream flat right in the city centre with gigantic rooms. BUT you are still looking for a new home, so a place that you feel comfortable and cosy in that offers you enough space to live and study. So if the area is miles away from uni or you don’t have enough space in your room to move it is probably not a good idea. It is ok to not be too flexible after all you will have to pay for it and live there for a while.
Happy flat hunting!