Author Topic: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?  (Read 4267 times)

caligulala

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« on: July 14, 2013, 09:53:10 AM »
We are moving to England at the end of the summer and are about to begin looking at houses to rent for our first year. What should we be looking for to help keep our utility costs low? I've picked up that double glazed windows are important but am a little baffled by the different types of heating systems. Is one type preferred for energy savings? How do you go about choosing service providers? Any recommendations?

We're trying to keep costs as low as we can while we save up a down payment for our own house, so any and all cost savings ideas are welcome!

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4548
  • Age: 11
  • Location: USA
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2013, 10:12:25 AM »
Where about in England? Generally speaking, housing in the UK sucks. Expect shitty plumbing, questionable insulation, even in the million pound homes in central London.

Picking utility providers will be very location-dependent. I suggest you start looking at the website for your future council/borough, there is usually a ton of advice regarding housing and settling in the community.

caligulala

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2013, 10:42:22 AM »
We're moving to Leicester. My husband is British, so I'm vaguely familiar with the various inefficiencies, just not enough to know what's avoidable.

Good idea about the council website, I'll check that out.

worms

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2013, 12:40:33 PM »
I don't know Leicester, but most UK cities have a glut of relatively modern apartments that are owned by small-scale buy-to-let landlords.  If it is just the two of you, I'd be looking for a middle-floor, 2-bedroom apartment, less than ten years old and with gas central heating.  I'd check out the local area by day and by night and I would be choosy about who my landlord is.  And I wouldn't allow myself to be rushed into a decision.  I would hope to pay about between £500 and £700 per month but that may be unrealistic in any area of Leicester that would be acceptable to live in.

LightTripper

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2013, 01:10:40 PM »
I also don't know Leicester specifically - but would say that for energy efficiency you want to go modern.  I agree that middle flats can be very low cost to heat (you get all the benefits of the heat your downstairs neighbour uses and the upstairs flat acts as insulation).

Re: heating systems you definitely want gas if you can (much cheaper than electric generally, plus you get the benefit of dual-fuel rates on your bills).  In a big city like Leicester I'd expect almost everywhere to have gas - but if you decide to commute in from a village you may not have gas.

Then the choice is between an older (or larger house) system with a hot water tank, versus a more modern "on demand" system.  Generally the latter will be cheaper I think - but it can't handle running two showers, so if you want to be able to draw a lot of hot water at once go for an old style tank system and just finesse your timings so you're running it the bare minimum and at the best times.  We saved quite a bit of money by just spending £20 on a more modern digital timer for ours, that allows us to heat the water at different times of day on different days of the week (when we bought it it just had a very old fashioned mechanical timer that came on and off at the same times each day!!) 

But our boiler is about 25 years old, so will need replacing at some point... ugh.  Not a problem you'll have if you're renting!

caligulala

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2013, 08:05:38 PM »
Thank you! Leicester is a really nice city; my husband grew up an hour away but had never been, so we were pleasantly surprised by its livability. Tons of parks, loads of bike lanes and very affordable. Most of the housing close to my husband's job seemed to be 2-3 bedroom terraced houses, which sounded nice to us since we have 2 little boys and a big bike. The more modern apartments we saw listed were much more expensive, like at least £2-400 more per month than the houses. I'm guessing more efficient energy use probably wouldn't make up such a big price gap?

Double glazing
Gas heating
On demand water heating

is what I'm adding to my list of things we'd like.



worms

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2013, 09:44:06 PM »
The more modern apartments we saw listed were much more expensive, like at least £2-400 more per month than the houses. I'm guessing more efficient energy use probably wouldn't make up such a big price gap?
It certainly wouldn't!  I am in a poorly-insulated, detached cottage in an exposed location in the north of Scotland and my oil and electricity total comes to about £260 per month.  I would expect yours to be less than half that in the terrace and less than a third for a modern apartment.

daverobev

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3322
  • Location: UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2013, 04:12:38 PM »
I think landlords have to give energy efficiency assessments of the house they are letting now (my agent asked me for one a while back, and I had one from when the house was on the market) - it will give the house a grade in a number of areas, and generally tell you how expensive the place will be to run.

Things to find out:

How much is the council tax
Are you on the way to/from a school

You should be able to get Ecotricity as an electricity supplier; they are a touch more expensive, but invest in wind power (if that's your thing; none of the 'normal' electricity companies are very nice, IMHO, so I was more than happy to go with a smaller outfit). There is a site called uswitch, I think, that allows you to change provider pretty easily.

Last time I lived in a house with gas heating, it was a 2 bed (in fact, I still own that house :)). I think electricity was about 20 quid, gas 25, water 15 or so? But this was in 2007 so prices have gone up since then. Council tax was about 90 quid, so more than the utilities.

There are plenty of internet providers, too. Don't just choose BT!! Have a look on Money Saving Expert - it's a good UK site that is all about deals.

Good luck!

daverobev

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3322
  • Location: UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2013, 04:16:01 PM »
PS, make sure you understand your gas central heating, if you do get that. Most of the older systems have an on and off time, for both the weekdays and the weekends, for both hot water and heating.

So you can get your hot water to come on at 5:30am for an hour, providing enough water for showers. Then have it come on again at 7pm for an evening bath... sounds silly but my tenant basically had the hot water and the heating on 24/7 because they didn't get it/hadn't seen that system before!!

Landlords HAVE to get a gas safety certificate annually. Also, the damage deposit will go into a secured escrow/bond thing where there is third party mediation in the case of damage when you move out - protects the landlord from bad tenants, and the tenants from bad landlords. I like it, as systems go.

LightTripper

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 06:33:56 AM »
Agree the rent difference wouldn't compensate for energy bills... Our energy bills are about 100 per month for a Victorian 4 bedder with 4 adults and an ancient boiler, little double glazing, etc.  we are out quite a lot, and do put jumpers on in winter, but are not ridiculously tight with energy beyond that.  The average Uk bill is apparently now 1400 (see below).  It is worth shopping around to get a good deal - there are loads of price comparison sites you can use - slightly trickier when renting but still worth doing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/household-bills/10043967/How-energy-bills-have-soared.html

LightTripper

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 06:39:39 AM »
The on demand boiler is called a combi.  They are very common now.  I have had both combi and tank systems, and probably slightly prefer tank, but they both have pros and cons.  For boiler questions my first port of call is always this website run by a very helpful poster on the Mötley Fool... Tells you everything you could possibly want to know about UK heating systems!

http://www.miketheboilerman.com/boilertypes.htm
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 06:54:18 AM by LightTripper »

caligulala

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2013, 10:58:18 AM »
Thanks for the advice, LightTripper and daverobev!

I never would have thought of needing to set a timer for a boiler, so that's good to know. I would have been your very silly renter!

We set up a projected budget in YNAB and had a lot more going to utilities than either of you suggested, so that's comforting. Our income will be increasing in the UK, but everything is just different enough that it's hard to know exactly what we'll need to budget. We'll aim high and hopefully find that things come in lower than expected.


LightTripper

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Moving to England - What should we look for in a rental?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 01:28:15 AM »
No worries! You will need to pay for water too, which can be expensive, so worth having some flex in the budget. 

I would definitely have a look at Money Saving Expert. Lots of good info and very busy message boards.

You might also want to get a cheap energy meter so you can keep track of what kit is e pensive to run when you first move in.  http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/free-cheap-energy-monitors

The other place to get an idea of possible budgets is the Dealing with Debt board on the UK Mötley Fool site ... That will at least give you a baseline and list of key cost categories.

Good luck with the move, let us know how you get on!!