What I Rent: Vicky, £395 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Glasgow

Londoners, you’ll want to sit down for this one.

This week is our cheapest What I Rent thus far.

In case you haven’t been along for the ride, a brief explanation on What I Rent: it’s a weekly series looking inside people’s rented properties to show the good, the bad, the mould, and the hideously overpriced.

Each week we nose around someone’s rented property, all with the aim of creating a real picture of the state of renting… and to satisfy our nosiness.

This time we’re up in Glasgow with Vicky, a 27-year-old creative community art producer.

Vicky lives alone, having moved to Glasgow in May 2018 after nine years based in Beijing. She’s also studying in London part-time to become a dramatherapist.

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

Rent is £395 per month plus £15 service fees.

Bills – I think I put about £40 on the gas and electric every month but I still need to change my rate. I’m really disorganised at the moment.

And what do you get for what you pay? 

One bedroom, one bathroom, one kitchen, one living room. This place is probably big enough to be a two-bedroom but the fact there is a window in every room was a strong selling point.

How did you find the place? 

A few months ago a friend mentioned on Facebook that he was looking for a new flat and someone commented about Southside Housing Association’s Mid Market Rent scheme. I knew my landlady at the time was planning on selling her flat so I found the scheme online and added myself to the list.

The mid-market rent homes are for people in full or part-time employment but crucially are secure tenancies and – this was a life saver for me – are open for people with pets. I work in the arts and will never be earning a massive amount of money and yet the options are so limited in the private renting market.

I moved in this July and still haven’t fully unpacked – I’m just coming out of a manic time at work and with starting uni. I’m confident I will get some lampshades and curtains sorted before the end of the year.

Are you happy where you live? 

I live right on Eglinton Cross – just on the wrong side of the magic invisible line of gentrification which has been creeping up through Govanhill of late. This means I to step over broken glass and chicken bones to get to my overpriced poached egg on sourdough toast.

I love where I live! When I first viewed the place I was very ambivalent. The housing association had just taken over the building and had to give us a disclaimer before they let us in the building – the front and back doors to the close swung open with the wind, half the stairs were missing and the smell was… memorable.

By the time I moved in, however, we had security doors in place, the stairwell was complete and the whole place is pressure cleaned once a week so that it doesn’t smell… as much.

When we went into the flats themselves though (there were three available when I viewed) light just poured out of them. The flats themselves are lovely, big high ceilings and nicely renovated.

I’ve grown very quickly to love the neighbourhood. There’s an African restaurant directly downstairs which has a door into our close and saved me when I locked myself out on my first week (don’t ask). My local nail place Taffy Beauty is two minutes away and I get free entertainment from the Star Bar across the road when they have their karaoke nights. I’m right by Govanhill which has an excellent mix of social enterprises, hipster coffee and plant shops and the best kebab and curry joints in Scotland.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

I have loads of space. It’s obscene. I study part-time in London and delight in telling my classmates how big my flat is and how little I pay.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

It’s still a work in progress. I did the kitchen first. The flat was completely unfurnished when I moved in so I had to scour Gumtree etc to get my appliances, I lucked out with my cooker which I love.

Getting all my spices out on the counters, and my Chinese and Korean bits and bobs out helped. I’ve picked up a lot of wee things along the way and they all remind me of my lovely friends and family who are scattered around the globe.

What’s it like living alone?

I have recently come out of a long and lovely co-habiting relationship so it was an adjustment at first but there’s nothing like living alone: freedom, space, independence. If you can afford it, every woman should live alone at least once in her life.

We say alone, but you have two pets, right? 

When the photographer was round my cat, Prince – also known as Mister Socks – refused to come out from under the bed. He’s my most recent pal. One rainy day this summer I was walking around my new neighbourhood with the dog and saw a friend on the other side of the road outside an excellent Asian grocer, Strawberry and Spice. ‘Vicky,’ she said, ‘Do you want a cat? Because Shaka’s sister is spending too much time in Pakistan and her husband wants to rehome it.’

Long story short, Prince now lives with us, and after a couple of weeks under the bed has now realised the dog won’t come near him so he kind of rules the roost.

Baozi is my dog. She has an Instagram account. Baozi turned up outside my courtyard house in Beijing in March 2016. She was an adorable wee black and white ball of fluff and has grown into quite a weird-looking thing.

When we adopted Baozi we already had a cat, George, so Baozi has grown up being terrorised by cats. George now lives in the lap of luxury with my friend Heather in Beijing, We brought Baozi back to the UK overland on the Transsiberian and then through Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and Holland by train before hopping on the ferry back to the UK. She is a well-travelled hound and does very well with the Scotrail delays after we got stuck in Poland for two days due to storms.

Baozi has taken to the Southside well and enjoys foraging for discarded chicken and kebabs outside the house on a Sunday morning.

I couldn’t believe how hard it was to rent with pets given how ostensibly ‘pet-friendly’ the UK is but every private listing I saw said ‘no pets’. When I would go to viewings on the offchance I could convince a landlord I would be one of about 15 people vying for the same overpriced place being showed by some glaikit estate agent flunky and give up hope.

I was not a ‘desirable’ tenant. I don’t know that I would ever have found a place if Southside Letting hadn’t saved me.

Are there any issues with the flat?

So far no problems! We’re right on a very busy road which bothered me a bit at first but I don’t hear the traffic any more.

Do you have plans to move again?

No, I won’t move unless my situation changes dramatically. I’m back on the list with the housing association in case there comes a time I need a bigger place but I genuinely am very happy where I am.

And what about buying a place?

Nope. I have a secure tenancy, I have no need to feel like I ‘own’ something. I’ve never been interested in buying a home, my career and lifestyle has always meant I’ve prioritised travel and adventure over saving and putting down roots.

I don’t buy into the idea that we should all aspire to own a house. Homelessness and housing insecurity is a real and fundamental problem in our society today and I think we’ve all got to think about how we’re contributing to it.

A very good point. Let’s have a look around. 

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.

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 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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