What I Rent: Lucy, £1,350 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Ealing Broadway

It’s time for What I Rent, our series exploring the reality of renting.

Each week we take you inside a different person’s rented space, and talk with them about their property experiences.

Last week we were in Highams Park, London, with Jazz and Rob, who pay £1,650 a month for a two-bedroom flat.

This time we’re heading a bit west, to a one-bedroom flat in Ealing Broadway.

Lucy, 31, produces content for a clothing brand’s social channels, and just before the pandemic began, she moved in with her boyfriend into this flat.

Before that, she had lived in different parts of north London.

So, how has it been spending lockdown in a new space? We chatted with Lucy to find out.

Hey, Lucy! How much do you and your boyfriend pay to live here?

£1,350 a month for rent, plus £250 on bills.

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And what do you get for what you pay?

It’s a one-bed flat with a tiny bathroom but a good-sized open plan kitchen-diner.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

I mean, it’s expensive… it’s London! It was good for our budget in March 2020.

We moved here so we could cycle to work and save on transport (the irony being I’ve been to work about 10 times since moving…).

We’re definitely paying more for the convenience of being right next to shops and restaurants, and a three-minute walk from the tube and train station, but we haven’t been able to use all of these amenities for most of the year – so that has been frustrating.

The flat has probably decreased in value too. The identical flat below us just got new tenants with the same landlord paying less than what we are. We watched the asking price online go down!

What do you think of the area?

Ealing Broadway has definitely grown on me after spending more time here as it literally blossoms in the summer.

While we live on a busy main road, we also have a tree-lined common right nearby and two beautiful parks a short walk away, which I feel very lucky to live close to.

The common became our make-shift garden last year, we took our dinner there in Tupperware on hot evenings!

I love walking around the peaceful residential streets and admiring the mix of architecture around, or cycling down to Kew or Richmond.

I just try to steer clear of the main road and shopping streets here, they get so crowded at the weekends.

While I don’t know many people around here, I actually made friends with my neighbour, which has been so nice during lockdown. We’d meet for a walk every weekend to practise speaking different languages.

How did you find this flat?

The one and only RightMove.

How have you made the space feel like home?

The secret is Command strips! I can’t tell you how much money i’ve spent on those genius little velcro things, but it’s been worth it.

Everything is held up by them, including the mirrors (eight strips each!) and even all the bag hooks. There were weighing scales and a spreadsheet to do the whole house – I kid you not, it was necessary.

We brought most of our own furniture into the flat, and along with the landlord’s sofa, black wardrobe and table and chairs. which had to stay, I feel like we’ve tessellated everything in as best we could. With such a small space we’ve had to use almost every available nook and cranny available!

I’m a fan of putting things above doorways to make the most of the height. Vertical space is so often under-used, I feel.

We bought a hob kettle and we unplug and store the toaster on shelves in order to save precious worktop space. Sounds like a faff but it’s been fine.

The sofa dividing the lounge was the first, and is probably the best layout decision we made to make the space work.

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

The challenge of decorating a small space has been really enjoyable and I’m chuffed that it works well for us.

One of the terms of us signing the lease was for the landlord to add glass backsplashes in the kitchen and bathroom. It took a bit of chasing but they did it.

We also asked to replace the mirror in the bathroom with our bathroom unit and we swapped the old bed out for ours too, both of which we agreed we’d leave behind. To be fair, the landlord is getting a free upgrade.

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

We had a few issues come all at once; neighbours with noisy kids late at night below, a gym thatcranked the bass at 7am, neighbours yelling at each other upstairs and a construction site outside. We got very familiar with the different types of ear plugs available.

We also got the extractor fan air from downstairs coming up into our bathroom and they liked to cook potent food. So all that was fun.

We’ve got a resident dehumidifier the size of a fax machine (who should really pay rent) to control a bit of damp we spotted over winter too but I’d much rather that than mould!

We’ve had a fair share of niggly little issues too but the property managers are pretty swift. I’ve pretty much got the guy on speed-dial.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Double the size of the flat, add a garden, maybe a balcony and then… yeah, maybe!

Do you have plans to move again any time soon? And are you keen to buy?

I think the next step will be buying, so we might have to pay a visit to my teenage bedroom for a bit to save money for that endeavour.

We’d like to get on the ladder soon so working towards that… in between bouts of disbelief at the cost of buying anywhere near London.

But hopefully we’ll find something for us that works!

Fingers crossed. Shall we take 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 whatirent@metro.co.uk. 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!).

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