Welcome back to What I Rent.

This is our weekly series in which we take you inside different people’s rented homes, to get a proper sense of what renting looks like today.

Last week, we were up north in York, where £875 a month gets Hannah and Connor a two-bedroom house.

This time, we’re back in London – Walthamstow, to be specific.

Here, Alex, 27, rents a flat with her boyfriend, after moving in together for the first time right before the start of lockdown, in January 2020.

Alex, a born-and-bred Londoner who works in audio production and voice casting, has been using the past year to make the property feel like home on a budget, documenting the process on her Instagram.

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

Our rent is £1,250 per month. Our council tax is £140 and around £100 for electric, water and internet.

Myself and my boyfriend split the bills and rent equally (although, it is me who reminds him every month that he needs to chip in!).

I won’t go into the endless amount of TV subscriptions services we pay for…

And what do you get for what you pay?

We have one bedroom, one bathroom and a joint kitchen-living room. Originally, I wasn’t sold on the idea of a joint kitchen-living room, but as we (eventually) got round to hosting duties, it made these events a lot more sociable.

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We have a large balcony, which was a major selling point when we viewed this property, which overlooks the property’s communal garden. This area has been great for a few apartment block meetups.

Do you think you have a good deal?

When I tell my friends who live up North how much I pay in rent, their gasps are audible.

Although the flat is small, compared to other properties we saw at different price points, I feel like we do have a good deal.

The flat is really bright and modern, and being a few floors up it feels very safe. We have some outdoor space too, which feels like a luxury in London.

How did you find the flat?

When we first found this property, on Rightmove, it was still yet to be finished being built. We came around to viewing it after looking at a few other properties in the area (which we weren’t so sold on.)

We viewed a show home and signed up to rent without ever actually seeing our flat. From signing up it took around six months for the build to be completed before we could eventually move in.

What do you think of the area?

Our flat is in Walthamstow and I absolutely love the area. I didn’t know what to expect from the area when we first came here to view apartments, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a busy place – we actually live relatively close to the bustling high street – but there are some amazing places to go for some peace and quiet, such as the Walthamstow Wetlands, or Lloyds Park, which were a saviour for walks during lockdown.

It’s also really easy to travel into central London, being only 15 minutes on the overground to Liverpool Street – so it’s ideal now I’m back working from the office.

How have you made the place feel like home?

The flat came unfurnished with completely white walls, which meant it was a bit of a blank canvas.

We chose a really bold turquoise sofa which really helped to put our stamp on the flat early on. Putting up photographs and prints has been a really easy way to make it feel more homely. All of our prints and pictures mean something to us, whether it is a lyric from our favourite songs or posters of our favourite movies and places. Command strips are definitely a renter’s best friend!

Buying decor pieces from vintage shops has been a really good way of having one of a kind home furnishings that feel unique to us.

Buying items from charity shops and upcycling them has given me a chance to experiment and get pieces I would never normally pay retail price for.

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

We are able to paint walls and hang things up, as long as we ensure everything is back to how it was when we move out.

While it’s really great to have the freedom, for us, it’s not worth the cost of having to get everything back again when we leave.

Sadly the apartments are not pet-friendly, which has put my dreams of getting a dog on hold for a few years.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

There’s enough space for a busy couple who work long hours, but a couple that work from home and legally have to stay in the house? Perhaps not so much.

Having us both work from one room during lockdown has been a bit of a struggle, but it’s definitely brought us closer (literally).

Are there any problems with the flat you have to deal with?

Pigeons. So. Many. Pigeons. A few months ago the local pigeons decided they’d like to rent a home of their own. Except the payment we seem to receive for them inhabiting our balcony is their mess we need to clean up and half-built nests.

It’s an ongoing issue for many of the apartments in our block, as I believe is true for many apartments across London. But it’s a price worth paying to have a balcony, plus I do secretly enjoy watching from the balcony door ready to pounce on any unsuspecting pigeon.

As with many new builds, there have been a few snags, the main one being a crack above our balcony doors that leaks through during heavy rain. A year and a half after first reporting it, it still hasn’t been fixed.

However the one good thing about renting is as long as you report an issue, it’s the landlords responsibility from there. We don’t have to pay to fix issues such as leaks.

As I mentioned before, while we didn’t see our specific flat, before moving in, it wasn’t until we settled that we noticed one major problem. While we do have a floor-to-ceiling window in the bedroom, it doesn’t open. This means it gets very stuffy throughout the day, and can sometimes be unbearable during the Summer.

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

I’ve liked the stress-free process of renting, as well as not having responsibility when things need fixing. However I’d really like to put more of my own stamp on a place.

It’s very limited what you can do in a rented home, and although I feel like we’ve made this place our own, I can’t wait to find a house and be able to knock down some walls.

We’re currently looking to buy a house in Essex. We’ve loved living in Walthamstow but we will likely have to move further out if we hope to buy a house with a garden.

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!).

This article contains placements with affiliate links.  We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links on these placements.

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