Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Or Should I Go?

The word choice involves selection; making a decision between alternative options. When I leave (and it is when) I will live in a similar place, with similar problems. Perhaps it would be easier to get the hell out of here, head off for pastures new. But where? I like the city; the problem isn’t urban life, but the state of these developments.

I want to find somewhere better, and flats are all the same. For all its many faults, Dovecot Towers is pretty standard in what is the ‘affordable’ end of the market. But uniformity is stifling. Just who decreed that all urban newbuilds must be identical? Thankfully, I avoided the teeny, tiny examples that were being built four or five years ago. My requirements are realistic, and I’m no diva demanding Jacuzzis, verdant terraces or miles and miles and miles of space in my lounge. To be honest, I wouldn’t need a house; I’m happy with a flat.

Modest to a tee, I’d really like a slightly larger balcony, so I can stand outside without dodging the door. What I’d really like though is a lounge: just a small amount of separate space so I can sit without being serenaded by washing machines, both mine and those of my neighbours, but all flats have office/kitchen/dining/sitting/laundry rooms, with nowhere to pull out a mattress when friends stay. I don’t like the idea of being greedy and rattling around in a three bed house. I’ve been checking rents, and they are falling to a level where an extra room is a growing possibility.

Regular readers know that all I really want is cupboard. It has become an obsession. I am not naturally tidy, and so have discarded superfluous possessions, with Oxfam the beneficiary. And I’d like a utility room. As for my imaginary, ideal new neighbourhood, I’d like a bar, or a cafĂ©, to escape to. I’d like to look across at something other than a perpetual vista of newbuild fading into newbuild.

If I go, I’ll be shuffling from one flat to the next one, hauling my diminishing possession from one side of town to the other. I feel exhausted and daunted, and I’m checking out ‘better’ flats, in neighbourhoods not routinely prone to crime. I spoke to the man at my bank (I was reporting that my replacement debit card was stolen from post box) and he said that theft was uncommon in his block, which is 50% owner occupied.

Wisdom says that I should bide my time holding out for rental prices to drop even further (and yes, doubters, they are dropping). More flats have been completed, and the available pool of tenants has reached maximum saturation.

For what I pay here I might afford a ‘luxury’ flat. It’s just that in the Alice In Wonderland World of Newbuilds, luxury for us (a bit of space, a cupboard or two, and a utility room) is what passes for average elsewhere. My dreams are not extraordinary, wide-eyed crazy fantasies. My wishes are mundane: I want a safe and comfortable place to call home.


Credibility Problem said...

I rented in Manchester for around seven years before moving to the - equally wet I might add - Dublin. Since coming over, a lot of Mancunian friends have been to visit, where (of course) I've done my darnedest to introduce them to Guinness.

Eitherway, rental prices and the like crop up as frequent conversation topics. Said friends were often amazed at how much rent I paid for my first place (an apartment - no flats here) and again, more amazed, at how much for the second (a cottage, my first non-flat).

I've vaguely wondered if rental expectations in Manchester are just a little low. Thinking back, mine certainly were at the time. £550/month seemed normal enough, with £800/month getting towards the upper-end and possibly requiring a nose for fine cheese/wine.

Here in Dublin, my first place was 1300 euro. The second is 1600 euro. The first would (or at least would have been, property crash and all that) be considered cheap by Dublin standards, though I dare say it would cover what you desire - namely, a lounge, and some cupboards.

So what could you get for £1000 there? Or £1250? Somewhere pretty damn fine I suspect. This is, of course, skipping the tax issues (which is a lot lower % of yearly income here than the UK) but, well, I think I had some meaning somewhere amidst the rambling.

Apologies for length.

the reaper said...


some interesting stats on here re rentals.Good sample size but some of the prices seem odd.

Does anyone else have a good resource for rentals stats-they are hard to come by.

hvae to say round my way-east mids-the higher end is being flooded with 'cant sell's'

RenterGirl said...

Hi CP!
That's too high; I don't think rents should ever be more than 25% of average earnings, but newbuild levels have been distorted by escalated expectations from naive buy to let owners, and are now re-adjusting downwards. For that money, I would expect a luxury flat, by any standard. Dublin had the worst (ie most inflated) property bubble, I believe in Europe.
And Reaper - you're so right. There are many many can't sells. Just this morning there's a flat going, posted on the door of Dovecot Towers which says 'rent negotiable.' The thing with can't sell landlords is they will offload the minute they are able. And they are notoriously picky and unreasonable about repairs and wear and tear.
Thanks for reading.

RenterGirl said...

reaper, I've just checked property via the link you provided. Some of the flats are luxury. Others are unrealistic. Prices with private letting agencies are boosted by their need for commission, which they will encourage owners to request too much rent. Prices requested are vastly different to rents achieved.

In the next few months, I predict that newbuild urban rents will plummet further as repos, forced landlords and bought-to-leave empty flood an already saturated market.

the reaper said...

the thing with nestoria is not the properties they have on,I use rightmove being a rental snob and all,but the stats that come with it.

using a county wide search for leiecestershire,accoridng to them rents are down on average 10% from june to july 2008.It's in the box on the right hand side.I've no doubt this figure is ehavily influenced by the odd few nutters trying to rent penthouse flats in no mans land for £3000 but food for thought nonetheless.
nottinghamshire down 15%
norhtants down circa 2.5%

I am looking for a 4 bed pad and the prices are falling in a similar way to nestorias figures.

All I'm saying is their stats seem to be near the mark accordng to my experience.

RenterGirl said...

You're right Reaper, but I still think some buy-to-let people are in toruble, and asking for higher than reasonable rents. What's happening in Nottingham and Sheffield is terrifying for owners but a boon for tenants. Good luck with the house hunting. It's hard for families to find rented homes when so many are let as HMO's.

the reaper said...


last year was harder now,tehre's some beautiful places coming on we jsut could not afford to buy.I'm serious.£500k houses at 2007 prices(who knows what now) going for £900 per month.between two of you it's cheap as having two one bed flats in a bad area.

have you ever considered sharing a big house?

the BTL's are travelling quickly up poop creek, sans paddle.

some of these guys bought on 4.5% gross yields in 2004-2007 and are now sourcing their money at 7.5% as they leave two year fixes from those halycon days of cheap cheap money.I see these people on TV saying 'we were misled 'etc bet they wouldn't be saying that if they were up 20%,would they?

makes my blood boil.A generation forced into hock to the banks just so because some BTLs were too stoopid to stick to the basic rules of investemnt.wouldn't mind if it had been a bubble in mining stocks whatever,people in those markets know the risk.I just have a lot of friends who got frightened into it.
very sad.
rant over.

RenterGirl said...

Houses In Multiple Occupation make more money for landlords, at the expense of family homes. There's more to follow on how this is affecting me...