In our continued mission to make Londoners absolutely miserable (and to take an honest look at how people are renting across the UK), this week’s What I Rent is way up north in York.
Our weekly series What I Rent takes you inside a different person’s rented property each week, so we can all be nosy about what people get for how much they pay – and figure out if we’re being ripped off once we’re armed with that knowledge.
For the first year of the series we focused entirely on London, but for the past few weeks we’ve ventured past the M25, heading to Aylesbury, Lincoln, and Leeds.
As you’d expect, all those rented places have been quite a bit cheaper than our city digs, and it’s been tough for us Londoners to see.
That trend continues this week with Anthony, 36, and Alison, 33, who share a three-bedroom house in Clifton, York.
Hey Anthony and Alison! How much do you pay to live here?
Anthony: I think it’s about £750 a month total which we split evenly.
Alison: it’s £765 we now pay, we had a 15 quid rent increase last year which wasn’t too bad, I thought.
Anthony: I have no idea what we pay in bills but Alison takes what she needs out of my account.
Alison: I don’t just rob you! It’s around £260 a month for all utilities including council tax.
And what do you get for your money?
Anthony: We have two and a half rooms. The house is advertised as a 3-bed but in reality that third room is only good for junk, children and very quick games of hide-and-seek. We have a single bathroom upstairs and a bonus cloakroom/toilet downstairs.
Alison: We’ve also got a large lounge/dining room which is all open. There is a good sized kitchen and a separate back room which has the computer and another sofa in, which Anth classes as the processing room.
Do you think you have a good deal?
Anthony: Yeah, to the point I was suspicious when we found it. I kept asking ‘what’s the catch?’ but it’s probably just because we back onto a railway line and the postcode in general.
Alison: Yes, it’s a great sized house with a big garden in York. We were previously in a small two up two down terrace and paid £680 a month, so this was a major upgrade in size for not much more a month. We are not very far from the centre either, which is always a bonus.
How did you find the house?
Anthony: Alison found it when she was getting annoyed with our last place.
Alison: June 2016 we moved in. I’m always looking on RightMove. I happened to see this and we were the first viewing the day it came on. I made Anth sign the paperwork there and then because it was palatial compared to our previous house.
Do you like the area?
Anthony: I am very happy! It’s a great location for its price and very quiet relatively – considering that not far away is a much rougher area.
I think our street is mostly hospital workers and retirees (being York there are thousands of pensioners everywhere).
It has a decent bus route for myself and it’s easy enough to hit the ring-road and escape the city when needed. Traffic by the hospital is a nightmare though which you have to pass if you’re heading town-ward.
Alison: Yeah, I really like living here. It’s a quiet, no trouble neighbourhood. We have a railway line at the bottom of the garden but it’s about one train an hour and you don’t notice unless you’re stood by the fence. Let’s just say, If we were in a position to buy it I would buy the house.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Anthony: Yeah, I like that we have enough space here to hold a few gatherings. The garden is great for summer barbeque parties and the knocked-through living room is great for games of Warhammer with the boys!
Alison: We could always have more. But yes, we have a lot of space.
Really large lounge and then a back room extension also. We have things set up so if one of us wants to play on the Playstation the other can watch TV in the back room or play on the computer.
And like Anth says, plenty of space for big party gatherings. The extra toilet always comes in handy when guests are round!
What’s it like living together?
Anthony: Cosy? We have enough space that we don’t get on each other’s toes but you don’t feel as lonely as you might in a flat/house share where you don’t really know the other person.
Alison: We share everything equally, bills and chores etc. It’s rare we argue but think that’s because we are both too chilled out.
And it’s only occasionally I have to nudge Anth to do his share of the chores! We are both massive geeks which makes it easy to keep up with each others hobbies. Film nights and board game evenings are regular occurrences in this house.
How have you made your house feel like home?
Anthony: We go to quite a few comic-cons and have bought quite a lot of art. Framing them before putting them on the walls makes it look more like a home and less like student digs.
Other than that it’s just a case of making a space for your hobbies; I have a table I can paint my miniatures on and a display cabinet for my figurines.
Alison: We have a lot of artwork from over the years that we have put up. We still have loads more but I won’t put it up without frames which obviously costs money and when you have over 40 pieces it’ll add up.
Then there is all of Anth’s Warhammer 40k minis, we have a cabinet for them and will soon need another. They are a good talking point.
My mum comes round to do our gardening, she really enjoys it so she makes the garden look pretty which is better than it looking like a wasteland!
Are there any major issues with the house you have to put up with?
Anthony: The next-door neighbours have a couple of noisy kids. Some nights they scream all night through but it’s getting rarer. Being an old Edwardian house it can get quite cold in the winter but thankfully remains cool in the summer.
I think the floor might be sinking in one or two places but as a renter major structural degradation is not my problem!
Alison: No major issues, just small tweaks that come with renting. The side gate is constantly blowing open in Winter which Anth gets frustrated with barricading on a wet and windy night.
And there is a very very large Leylandi hedge which is slowly dying from the bottom up, it doesn’t look great and is ruining the soil on that side of the garden, but we are not going to sort it as it’s not our house and it would cost a lot to sort.
Are you planning to move again?
Anthony: I’m not in the mind to look for anywhere else. I think I’d need a pay rise/promotion before I can start thinking about the next step, which would probably be a bigger place further out from the city. I’d need to learn how to drive before then though…
Alison: I can’t see us moving again for the time being, we both enjoy the location and the house.
Have you considered buying a place?
Anthony: Oh, you’re serious? Sure! Let me just get that 20 grand I’ve been sitting on all this time! In all seriousness I don’t think buying a house is a realistic prospect for anyone earning less than 30k.
Alison: Yeah, again I am always on RightMove to see what there is in York, but not looking seriously as we don’t have a deposit at the moment.
I’d like to have a place of our own within three years, but that involves being a bit more cautious with what we spend each month.
We are kind of living to our means at the moment as that’s all we have ever done, so we’d have to buy less artwork and less hobby stuff to start seriously saving!
York isn’t that cheap in terms of what you get for your money, but we don’t want to leave the city to get cheaper, maybe just to the outlying villages.
Very fair. Shall we have a nosy?
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places in London 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 have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.
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