What I Rent: Kelsey, £1,700 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Archway

It’s time for What I Rent, our weekly series that takes you inside people’s rented homes.

This week we’re chatting with Kelsey, 28, a digital marketing manager for a global advertising agency.

Kelsey is originally from Connecticut and lived in New York for a few years before moving to London for work in May 2018.

She started out in an expensive flat in Pimlico, then moved in with the boyfriend she met at work six months before, into a one-bedroom flat in Shoreditch.

‘We moved in together mostly because we wanted to, but also because I was living with an extremely toxic flatmate and paying much more rent than I could afford,’ Kelsey explains.

This year, as the Shoreditch flat ‘basically fell apart’, the couple moved to a new flat in Archway, North London, while in lockdown, where they’ve stayed since.

Hey, Kelsey! How much do you pay to live here?

We pay £850 each per month for a total of £1,700 per month.

Bills are all included in that price, so we don’t pay any more on top – which was one of the selling points for us. We also got an amazing deal because it was originally offered at £1,900 per month, but since no one was really moving during lockdown we were able to negotiate it down quite a bit!

And what do you get for what you pay?

The flat has three rooms – an open plan living room/kitchen, one bathroom, and one bedroom. Plus a large balcony with plenty of room for a table, chairs, and more.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

I think our place is a great deal, especially since we were able to shave £200/month off the price.

It’s still definitely on the pricy side – but it’s a brand new building (built just over two years ago) with a 24-hour concierge (no more missed deliveries), bike storage, study lounges and a large communal roof terrace.

We also have a good-sized balcony, which has been a sanity-saver throughout lockdown and subsequent quarantines.

How did you find the flat?

I found the property by scouring Rightmove for months on end and setting the price parameters way above what we could afford (classic me).

Because it was during lockdown, we obviously couldn’t go and view the property, so the letting agent sent me a video and I instantly fell in love. My always-sensible boyfriend told me: ‘If we can get the price down, we can move’.

I didn’t think our offer would be accepted, but it was – and we signed the contract a couple of days later (without even seeing the flat in person).

What do you think of the area?

My flat is in Archway, North London. The building isn’t in the prettiest of locations –it’s rare that you don’t pass a few drunkards out front on the way in – but it is an arm’s length away from the Tube station on the Northern Line which is super convenient (not that I’m riding the Tube often these days, of course).

What I love most about the area is its proximity to much cooler areas. Kentish Town is a 20-minute walk away with its amazing pubs and adorable coffee shops, for example.

Then there’s Highgate just up the hill, which literally feels like I’m back home in Connecticut and not at all in a bustling city – it’s such a breath of fresh air.

Hampstead Heath is also nearby, one of the most beautiful parks in London, so the surrounding area certainly makes up for the constant construction noise and persistent scent of weed in the air surrounding my building.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

All the flats in this building look the same – and they come furnished, so it was a challenge for me to make it feel homey and unique. Another challenge was that we had already had our own furniture, so what we didn’t leave behind in our old flat (I still mourn my beloved sofa), we had to make work with the existing furniture.

Because the walls are stark white, I wanted to inject some personality with ultra-colourful framed prints I found on Etsy. I hung these above the sofa, bar cart, and in the bathroom to give the place a bit of flare. I also added colour with the bright yellow sofa cushions and selection of multi-coloured tea towels in the kitchen.

I tried to bring fun prints and textures into the décor, too – the whiteness, brightness and blank slate-ness of the interior make the possibilities feel endless when it comes to decorating. I bought a large beige tasselled rug from Urban Outfitters for the living room, which doesn’t overpower the place with colour but adds just the right amount of interest and texture. I also added a loudly printed throw blanket from Anthropologie, which, I think, gives things an artist’s loft-type flare (and is super comfy).

We had a few plants from our old flat that we brought with us too, so these helped to make our new apartment feel like home – and they integrated beautifully with the fake fiddle leaf fig tree that came with the flat!

I’m a sucker for candles – I would burn them all day every day if it didn’t make them run out – so burning candles is another way for me to make the flat feel like home.

There’s nothing better than cosying up on the sofa after dinner, with the blanket draped across and a glass of wine in hand, a candle (or two!) flickering away and filling the place with a warm, musky scent. To me, that’s home.

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

I’ve definitely felt restricted when it comes to decorating the way I would love to decorate. There are so many things to take into consideration, particularly when getting pictures for the wall (is it too big, will the frame be too heavy, etc), especially because our building doesn’t allow us to alter the walls in any way.

We have a massive gold mirror that was hanging on the wall in our last place (our landlord didn’t care) but it wasn’t possible to hang it in this flat because even the heaviest-duty Command strips would cause that thing to come crashing down.

So, I had to buy a new bookshelf that was short enough to prop the mirror on top of and ensure it was still at a functional height. It looks great and fits our books perfectly, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten it if it didn’t serve the purpose of allowing me to display my precious mirror.

The fact that the flat was furnished also hindered my ability to make it feel completely ‘me’. I wouldn’t have chosen some of the pieces myself, but I’ve made it work by adding personal touches like cushions, throws, vases, lamps, etc. that over time has made it feel like my own – and now I like the furniture more than I thought I would!

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Everyone who has been working from home with a significant other probably wishes they had a home office (or two!) but, in general, I feel like I have enough space in my flat.

I have the balcony to thank for this – it’s about three times the size of the balcony in my old Shoreditch flat, and has been a saviour on warm summer days. We often drink our coffee and eat dinner out there, and it’s lovely to catch a bit of fresh air and sunshine in between work calls.

The flat also came with a desk, which is a complete luxury in city life – there was no space for one in my last place so I worked from the sofa for months! I usually work at the desk and my boyfriend uses the kitchen table, so there is enough space between us to stay sane and productive.

The major downside is that I can’t rearrange the furniture. I am a master at finding inventive ways to use a small space (I get it from my mom who would switch up the living room layout every other week growing up). But, in this flat there are only
outlets on one side of the room – so I’m restricted to ‘TV that side, sofa this side’, which hurts my heart a little bit.

Are there any problems with the home?

I’ve lived here since May, and there haven’t been many issues. Apart from our phone intercom not working and a few near mishaps with Deliveroo drivers, all has been smooth sailing so far.

In terms of the area, we live directly behind a restaurant and shisha bar, like, literally I can wave to the people eating their pizza from my balcony – and every day I know when the clock strikes noon, because that’s when the music begins blasting (and it doesn’t stop until midnight. Every. Night.). So the noise factor is definitely annoying, but it doesn’t detract from how lovely the flat itself is.

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?

My intention when I moved was to move to a place I wanted to stay in for a while. So I definitely see this as being home base for the foreseeable future.

If I did move, it would probably be in a similar area, as I love the access to green space and the residential feeling of North London with proximity to fun bars, shops, and the hustle and bustle of Camden.

Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?

I would love to own a place someday, but it won’t happen any time soon. My priority in life thus far has been to chase my dreams and see the world – whether that takes me to NYC, London, or beyond.

Once I figure out where in the world I want to settle, I’ll think about owning a home. Until then, it’s Command strips and landlords for me!

Shall we have 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!).

Source: Read Full Article