Moving into my first flat
I’ve not posted to the blog in almost 2 months, which has frustrated me. I enjoy writing these and used to sit down every Sunday to write down my thoughts for the week.
A few things have happened since I last posted. I launched a podcast which has grown to 2,000 downloads and about £400 in a couple of months (and is bloody good fun) which I’ll be writing about next week, I moved into my first flat in Canterbury and my cat passed away. He was the cutest little rascal and my best friend, sucks to not have him around anymore.
To Jasper ?
I don’t want to gloss over that last point, but I also don’t want to talk too much about it. I’ve never lost anyone close to me before, so it was a completely new set of emotions I had to contend with. I’d not really understood how people could get so upset after losing a pet, but now I do. He passed away on the evening of the 12th October. I went over to my Mum's for some mac and cheese and he didn’t seem himself, we took him to the vets and it wasn’t good news. We had to put him down that evening.
The Tuesday was really tough. I took the day off work and spent it with my mum (we were both really close to the cat). It got better throughout the week but I am so lucky to have so many supportive people around me that understood how I was feeling.
Two weeks later, I’m feeling much better and happy to remember him for the amazing little chap he was. Mum and I even went through all our photos of him on Friday. RIP Jaspie ❤️
It takes 4 months!
One thing I was baffled by was how long it takes to buy a flat / house. We first viewed the property in February, the offer was accepted in early June and I was in by October. I think house buying is an industry that is absolutely ripe to be disrupted. The lawyers were slow to respond, paperwork was confusing and local authorities were, well, local authorities…
All that being said, it’s certainly a learning experience. I had to be patient as I was chasing the lawyer every day and I think they were getting a little tired of me by the end of the process. If you can, make sure you have a parent or someone who has bought a property before to help you out with the fine-print and ensuring you don’t get tripped up anywhere. Very grateful to my family helping me out here.
The moving day
After 4 months of excitement, the move-in day was upon us. September 30th I hired a van from our local hire firm (£73 for the day!), fuelled up with McDonald’s and started filling it up with all my stuff. I’d drafted in the help of both my parents and my little sister (unpaid labour, of course). I’d put all my stuff in the garage when I moved out of my place in London so it was just a case of going from garage to van. This took way longer than I anticipated, so by the time it was full I got the call from the estate agent:
“Mr McKinven, your keys are ready to collect”
We all hopped in the van and made our way from Whitstable to Canterbury. I was pretty damn excited to pick the keys up, but I forgot my mask so the estate agent had to come outside to pass them over. It looked like a very unassuming drug deal.
Walking into the flat for the first time was amazing. I had a blank canvas and a place to call my own after 22 years of living at parents, with colleagues, and most recently, in West London with my housemates.
I’ve just had a thought - it is not very strange that we make the biggest purchase of our life based on a 5 minute tour 9 months previously?
We then started the process of unloading everything out of the van and into the flat. This didn’t take nearly as long as I thought. Although moving the dining table and the sofa was a bloody nightmare. Luckily my flat is on the ground floor, so we didn’t have to get a crane or anything to lift the furniture in.
I sent Mum off to Asda to pick up some food to fill up my fridge, and some other essential items I’d forgotten to pick up previously, while Dad and I started unpacking. When mum came back, I put her in charge of setting up the kitchen (which she thoroughly enjoyed, I’m sure). How are you supposed to know which cupboard to use for what?
With everything moved into the flat and the excitement died down, we were all pretty tired. I bought us all a curry and we had the first meal in my new flat.
A day I won’t forget in a long time.
Unpacking takes ages
I was in the flat for 10 days before I’d fully unpacked - it was madness! I genuinely thought I’d just stay up late on move-in day and have the whole flat unpacked and finished.
What happened was I ended up being a little overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had. And as it was such a big context switch (going from 1 single bedroom to a 2 bedroom flat) I really struggled with where to actually put things. I was also doing a few trips to Ikea, John Lewis and Wilkos buying various things I realised I needed.
To be fair, going to the shops was the really fun bit, but unpacking it and adding to the already messy flat was getting frustrating.
After making very slow progress every night for a week, I drafted Mum back in one evening and she saved the day. I had a guest coming the next day so had to get everything finished that evening. She came over and absolutely blitzed the place with me - like an army general. Thanks Mumsy ❤️
Moving is expensive
Once you’ve paid the conveyancing fees, you might have management fees if you’re moving into a flat and buying all the things to fill out your place is more expensive than you might think.
I probably spent about £1,000 on kitchen utensils, bathroom stuff, cables, lights etc.
My no. 1 tip would be to try and save up more money than you think you’ll need to pay for these things. I had no idea I’d need so many ‘house’ items. When you’ve moving into your first place you want it to look really nice, so having a little extra to spend on things makes it worthwhile.
For instance, I spent £30 on a pepper grinder. But it’s a reaaaally nice pepper grinder.
There are lots of bills
Holy shit. Why is this not taught in school? Bills are an absolute minefield. I’m lucky that I had my parents and older sister to turn to to ask all these questions, but most people have to figure it out themselves. Here’s the bills I’ve got and the nuance behind each of them:
Gas + electric
In some places this is done on a meter, try and find your meters on day 1 and take the readings. It won’t make much sense to you but they’ll ask for it when you go to pay your bill. Aside from this, you don’t have to do anything, just wait for your provider to send you the bill. Then you need to be careful, because they’ll ask you to call and sign up for a plan there and then. Don’t sign up for anything and be super clear about that! The cheek of the fella I spoke to the phone trying to get me to agree to something there and then. Take note of your standing and daily charges for both gas and electric, then go onto moneysupermarket.com and find some deals - nothing the standing and daily charges. I switched from E-on to Shell, because it halved my bill!
You don’t have to do much here, just wait for your local council to send you a letter. Once they’ve sent you the letter, set up a direct debit to pay monthly. Quick tip for single adults like yours truly; you can get 25% off your council tax bill, just email / call them and they’ll send you the right forms.
You have to pay for water because when you flush the chain it goes to a company that sort it out for you. I’m still figuring this one out, but they sent me a bill for £30 and I’m just gonna pay it and see what happens. Oh, I did have to find out who my local water supplier was and register on their site. So do that first - Google will help you there.
This one I had figured out from day 0. I’d set up both my internet and TV with Sky about 10 days before I moved in. I could not move in and not have internet, that would have been a disaster. I got in touch with the people who were living in the place previously to take delivery of my router, then I just plugged it in when I arrived. Interestingly, there is only 1 supplier of internet in our area - Openreach (aka BT). So don’t think you’ll get any better speeds going to one supplier over another. I went to Sky because I wanted to get TV and got a bundle to save money, and I’ve found their customer service to be fantastic.
I don’t think this will apply to most people, but I have Sky TV, which includes BBC channels, so I have to pay a TV licence. You’ll get something in the post so don’t worry about this, just make sure you pay it. It’s like £13 a month.
Change your addresses everywhere
This will be a long process, but is entirely necessary. Go through your bank statement or Monzo and make a note of every single subscription you have. Then log in to each service individually and change your address. Change your Amazon first (obviously), banks and credit cards second, then your car / tax, then workplace, then all your subscriptions.
I think that’s all I can think of for bills. I’ll update when I think of anything else - ooh one more, register to vote! It means you can vote but will also help your credit score.
So there you go, I’m now in my new flat and I love it. I did a little video tour here so you can see my new digs for yourself: James’ Flat Tour v1.0 - YouTube
It’s been a bloody fun month, but not without its fair share of tears. I know you’re in a better place now little buddy ❤️