Ho ho ho, Hellow from your Local “just moved to UK …lost all initial enthu INDIAN who was SUPAH excited with her TIER 1 MIGRANT VISA” hey hey hey! (Obviosuly not anymore what with the new rules saying that only Phd holders will be issued the Tier 1 …sad ….)
Ok now before we wander off on a conversation that makes no sense let me tell ye all that the reason I am posting this to help ease those initial pangs of worry while looking for an apartment , yes after living for almost all my life in an owned house , well first parents then husbands but hey we paid no rent so …. Ok here are some handy tips which I hope HELP!!!
- If you do not have any KIDS yet like my hubby dearest and me you are in LUCK!, because then you will be able to look at 1st floor and above options as well, because if you have kids that are below the age where they walk on their own most of time then you will ALWAYS have to lug around the PRAM or BABY BUGGY as it’s popularly referred to as in this part of the world. So if you do have kids then ground floor or maximum up to the first floor makes good sense when u start your apartment hunt.
- Ensure you check what is the Council Tax, Electricity and Gas expenses and also how far is the nearest TESCO/ASDA and a few ASIAN grocery shops , if they are within WALKING distance consider yourself lucky and let me in on where you stay J on the other hand a short bus ride away is also cool as the transport system in central , south and surrounding areas of London is excellent also in most GHETTO like areas which have huge populations settled in of a variety of Asians including Indians like .
- Check if the HEATING works well in ALL ROOMS including the BATHROOM.
- Check if the KITCHEN has GAS HOBS or not, GAS HOBS are like our regular gas burner back in INDIA where you can reduce the flame while cooking, if not then there are FLAT slow time consuming type of heating systems similar to a HOT PLATE and are called ELECTRICAL HOBS which are ok if you’re a bunch of students living together and all you would make is an occasional cup of tea / coffee or maybe a ready to cook type of meal.
- There’s an eternal argument I have with my husband over whether it would be better to have an apartment with ONLY wooden flooring and NO CARPET ,because Indian cooking releases the MOST STRONG and mind you STUBBORN to rid off odours especially TADKA TIME with GARLIC, yes all standard apartment kitchens have an exhaust over the gas burners and there are windows you can open but in winter you would THINK twice before you open a window so if you choose an apartment with say a WHITE or CREAM carpet which is VERY THICK , when you move out you would have to call for professional cleaners and pay a huge amount to get it cleaned .I am not working right now so I have loads of free time and have purchased various odour eliminating types of sprays and liquids which when used with a simple vacuum keep the carpet very clean and the house odour free but I don’t see that happening once winter really sets in and when I do get a job .
- Check whether the OVEN works well, it was when we came to the UK that we started using the OVEN for the first time ever in our combined and individual lives and believe there is no greater joy than having PERFECT roast chicken made at home and also baking CAKES was a talent I never knew I possessed!
- Check if the wardrobes have ok and sturdy shelves.
- Check if ALL the electrical points are working fine.
- Check if the doors leading from one room to another close , in OLD all WOODEN and brick kind of buildings the wooden floors tend to swell up and become creaky and add to that the carpeting , then surely the doors will not close . Now you are wondering why in earth would you want to close doors inside the house, well for one if you have 2 bedrooms and the other one is occupied by occasionally visiting guests like your parents for example , wouldn’t they want to shut the door at least while they say change . But honestly, the most important reason is SAFETY, yes safety, how, why well…read on … burglaries are common and even the BEST of areas I have heard off terrible stories of loss of JEWELLERY and laptops etc. This is because EVERYONE knows that’s Asians love GOLD and the women carry at least SOME jewellery , secondly , every home now has at least ONE laptop , so the second you go say for a weekend sightseeing tour your apartment is a potential thieves heaven ! so once you take charge of apartment install at least 2 GOOD additional locks on the MAIN door and ONE lock on EVERY internal door .When you go out for a DAY trip , hide your laptop and jewellery in difficult to find or unusual places where no one would look FIRST . If you are PARANOID like I am then install a small security camera at a vantage point near the front door, at least you will be able to SEE the bloody thief’s face and hand over the tape to the Cops!
- NEIGHBOURS! OK now I know u are saying one CANNOT choose their PARENTS, NEIGHBOURS and BOSSES J BUT well at least you have some control over the NEIGHBOUR bit, check what is the population mix, you may have certain hang ups (come one now , don’t we all ?) so that’s one of the primary underlying reason there are ghettos in the UK ! Not to mention that amongst the local people there is SEVERE class politics as I choose to name it.
- Some letting agents provide standard and basic things like an ironing board , some kitchen utility stuff like spoons ,forks etc to start you out with and of course the MATTRESS on the bed must be NEW , UNUSED and if you are unfortunate enough to be moving during winter , be shameless and demand and NEW DUVET , PILLOWS and FRESH ,NEW bed sheet ,pillow and duvet covers , we got all of the above J
- There is another huge lifestyle change MOST typical Indians will face – THE LOO, there is only a small drainage outlet inside the tub and none outside so every time you use the pot you will have to mop at least half a litre of water around the pot for obvious reasons which if you use your imagination a bit you will easily understand if you don’t I am extremely sorry am not going to SO EXPLICIT either! (Which when you read between the lines you will know I have already been explicit enough already haven’t I?) So if you do get an apartment that has a bath area alongside the toilet with a shower at the top there is a small drain under the shower which makes life easier , simpler and cleaner and also helps all of us WOMEN to not have a SLIP DISC , as healthcare in this country can be EXPENSIVE when NOT covered by the NHS ( National Health Service – more on this later )
- Things like a terrace garden or a shared garden all come later when you are both earning and would like to move into a bigger house or into an ENTIRE house all to yourself which will be a huge jump in rentals.
- Of course then there is the most important thing to check which being how far does your husband have to travel to reach his place of work , because like 90% of most of the population you will use public transport until you get your own car !
- Last but not the least , it always helps if you find the “common “ close to your apartment , these are fairly LARGE open green grounds open to general public and if you’re lucky the one in your area will have a small pond with ducks and other lovely birds ! These are great places to walk around which you will love doing in the awesome summer months , to make you believe me I have posted some pictures below J and yes as you may not want to go the common every single day you can also just generally walk around the lanes in and around your neighbourhood , of course ONLY when it’s bright and sunny which during summer is almost till like 8 pm yes no jokes here ( considering WINTER starts some time September end is long , cold , bitter and it gets dark around 3 pm in the afternoon it’s ok to have bright sunny days that last till 8 pm !during summers !). And yes most boroughs in London , rather ALL boroughs and any large area has a good chain of Community Libraries which are free to general public and have a great collection of Books , mine allows me to borrow 8 books at a time and trust me that’s a lot especially compared to borrowing only 2-3 books max in India that too with a really hefty charge associated ,in winters it’s good fun to go the Library and sit next to the heating and read a nice book whilst feeling all snug and wrapped up in woollens !
Well , I can only think of so many that are generic and very helpful tips during the first ever apartment that you will have in the UK .The rest will just dawn upon you as you move in and depending on what your specific needs as a couple are . Hope that helped let me know via your comments!