Returning to London after living
Returning home to London after four years living abroad, I’ve rejoined a group that I never thought I’d be a member of again – Generation Rent. I was lucky enough to buy a small flat in South-East London shortly after the market crashed in 2009, so I thought my membership in Generation Rent, the 5.4 million UK households in private rented accommodation, had been firmly rescinded.
Returning home with a husband, a daughter, a dog and four years’ worth of furniture proved the flat that was once everything I needed simply now won’t do! So, six years after I became a homeowner, I’ve become a tenant again. It turns out that renting in your thirties couldn’t be more different from renting in your twenties…
It’s all about the appliances
With our move date fast approaching, I’ve been viewing houses like there’s no tomorrow. In the process, I’ve learned a
lot about what matters to the updated version of tenant-me. For instance, the existence of a washer-drier could be a deal-breaker! When I was house-sharing as a twenty-something with my three best friends, a dishwasher was a bonus—now, it’s a necessity.
Having owned my own home, and with a family in tow, I’m not prepared to do without mod-cons, and I imagine most tenants in their thirties are the same. My advice to prospective landlords out there looking to appeal to the family market is: when it comes to white goods, it’s impossible to over-estimate the importance of appliances.
Bedrooms are out, storage space is
Last time I was renting, the burning issue was the size of the bedrooms, or - more importantly - the similarities in the bedroom sizes. Back then, we rejected house after house because nobody wanted the single room. This time around, I couldn’t care less how the bedroom sizes stack up to each other! As long as there’s one with room for a cot and another that houses a double bed, I’ll be happy.
Now, what really matters is storage space, or lackthereof. In my twenties, storage space was a moot point – I simply had nothing to store. In my thirties, I’ve accumulated a decade’s worth of items that I might not need immediate access to, but that I can’t bear to leave behind.
Café culture over the commute
Where once a primary concern was how to get to the closest station—and whether or not a bus was involved (preferably not)—these days, it’s proximity to café culture that could cast the deciding vote. In my thirties and working part-time, I’m around the house a lot more, so what’s in walking distance matters.
Easy access to a major overground or underground station would be nice, but my husband’s commute will be long regardless, so being closer to somewhere I can get a decent cup of coffee and a babycino takes precedence.
It’s a dog’s life
Tenants in their thirties are more likely than those in their twenties to have dependents, and some of these are bound to be of the four-legged variety. Finding somewhere that welcomes Fido has whittled down our search dramatically because some landlords just won’t accept pets.
When considering the animal question, prospective landlords should be aware that most pet-owners are prepared to pay an eight-week deposit to guard against potential damage, which can make them more attractive as tenants.
Thumbs up – you’re a target tenant
Speaking of attractive, the biggest difference I’ve found while house-hunting this time is what a target tenant I am.
In my twenties, I found myself constantly having to explain that my housemates and I didn’t like to party (that much), didn’t smoke or drink (that much) and were generally considered to be respectable citizens. In my thirties, as a mother-of-one, it’s a given. With my daughter enrolled in a local nursery school, ties to the local area and a ring on my finger, estate agents are falling over themselves to help me. It makes a certain sense – I no longer smoke at all and party very rarely, but fundamentally, I am the same person.
And now, that same person needs to find a house, so wish me luck…