Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Apartment Hunt Update

After making our decision to go for the two-bedroom on Tuesday evening, we set up an appointment for Wednesday afternoon to meet with the estate agent and fill out a rental application.  On Wednesday morning as soon as offices opened we called in to all the places we had made appointments with for that day to cancel them....all except one.  There was one apartment we were still curious enough about to want to see, and we kept our 1pm appointment to check it out.

The apartment was in Harborne, but so close to the university and hospital that it should really be in its own category.  We arrived a little early and were impressed with the front garden, which was raised up from the road and full of healthy bushes and flowers.  The agent arrived and let us in to a huge room with fireplace, laminate flooring, and a spiral staircase up to the second floor.  The kitchen was large with all appliances included.  The back garden was large and as well-kept as the front.  The second floor had two enormous bedrooms, and there was a third floor with another enormous bedroom with a very large (by British standards) closet.  The bathroom was, alas, on the ground floor and beyond the kitchen, and the spiral staircase did seem like it could be a little daunting in the middle of the night, though not as much as those steep carpeted stairs at the earlier place we vetoed.  Seriously - this apartment was awesome, definitely top three.  Since it was only about an hour until our appointment to apply for the 2-bedroom apartment from Monday, we didn't have much time to really comtemplate it, so we made it easy on ourselves and fell back on bad information we already knew.  The grocery store was not close and the EPC rating for the place was F.  EPC ratings tell you how much you can expect to pay for heat, hot water, and lighting in a house and range from A (best, and nearly impossible) to G (worst), with the England/Wales average being E.  Most houses we saw were D and most flats we saw were C.  To quantify this - the estimated cost of heating the awesome spiral-staircase apartment was 2.5 times the estimated cost of heating our 2-bedroom front-runner.  This is a difference of around 1,000 pounds per year.  We don't know why the rating was so bad - it had all double-glazed windows, which is supposed to be a huge help in the heating department.  Maybe it was the sheer size of the place, which was over 100 square meters.  Or insulation problems, especially in the roof which has a room right in it that you'd want to heat.  In any case - bummer.  Hopefully someone with a few extra pounds to spend on heat will find and enjoy that place!

We went down to Stirchley to go to the estate agent's office.  There are tons of estate agents down there.  We wanted to stop somewhere for lunch, but all the curry houses and pizza joints were closed! We finally found a spot called Maggie's Munchies open for lunch and had sandwiches.  D made the mistake of trying to order a pot of tea for both of us (thinking it might be cheaper/easier than ordering 2 teas).  She told him this wasn't that kind of place...whatever that means.  Is putting tea in a pot posh or something?  We are clueless about that stuff for sure.  Anyway, the sandwiches were good and I am sure we'll be there again since it's not far from our new place. 

Well, hopefully our new place.  We haven't been approved yet.  We went to the office, filled out the forms, and gave them 200 pounds as an application fee and half a months' rent as a fee to take the property off the market. (I think this applies to the first months' rent if we get the place.  We get it back if the landlord rejects us.  We lose it if we bail.)  Then we later sent them a reference letter from our current landlord and our bank statements in lieu of a credit check which would be hard for them to do given our foreign status.  I don't know how long it takes to get the landlord's approval, but no word yet.   Fingers crossed, because our second choice - the complete refurb on the pretty street - has been taken off the rental market. It's still for sale - I guess the owner decided s/he just wanted to sell it after all.  The EPC F house (as we've come to call it) is still available...


  1. Don't let the spiral staircase deter you- I've been living in a place with one for several years now, you get used to it in no time. Good luck!

  2. The appearance of the house is not a good judge of figuring out the EPC rating of one. They base the criteria according to the layout of the house that will impact to the distribution of the energy inside. So, how did the process go? It sounds like you were hesitant to your chosen apartment. Sometimes, it’s really hard to decide, especially when other great choices suddenly appear on the market.

    Steve Jamieson

  3. Conveniently close to significant establishments, huge enough and well-kept – that sounds like a great place to settle in. I hope the landlord approved your offer. It can be hard to find a flat that meets most of your needs these days. I hope things turned out well for you. Have a good day!

    Rick Greer @ Finlay Brewer


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