What I Rent: Fiona and Alex, £650 a month for a two-bedroom house in Leeds
Last week What I Rent went up north for the first time ever.
In the spirit of fair comparison (and to show that decent places for decent rent aren’t exceptional outside of London), this week’s property is in Leeds, too.
As always, we’re taking you around someone’s rented property to get an honest conversation going about what people get for what they pay.
This time we’re being nosy with Fiona, 28, and Alex, 24, an engaged couple who both work at a vehicle leasing firm in Leeds. They share a two-bedroom house on the outskirts of the city.
Neither of them expected to live in Leeds.
Fiona grew up near Inverness in Scotland but moved to Leeds after leaving York University, while Alex grew up in Huddersfield and was adamant he’d never live in this ‘rival’ city.
Now, thanks to jobs, a relationship, and finding the right home, they’re happy on the south-west side of Leeds.
Hi Fiona and Alex! How much do you pay to live here?
We pay £650 a month for rent.
For bills it’s £70 for gas and electric, £21 for water, £45 for TV and internet, and £120 for council tax.
And what do you get for that money?
We have an open plan living room, dining room and kitchen downstairs, and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. There’s also a loft space which is boarded which is great for storage.
Plus a garden with decking area and that all-important garden shed.
Do you think you have a good deal?
Fiona: Our rent feels quite high, but we live in a pretty nice area and we were only paying £25 less for a flat until last year.
Alex: I think we pay below average on bills. The house is fairly-well insulated and doesn’t take a lot to keep it warm. We used to pay more for water but they based it on our usage and reduced our bill considerably recently.
How did you find this place?
Alex: Rightmove. We kept an eye on the site for months and everything we liked was snapped up really quickly.
We saw this one online on the Tuesday and by Wednesday lunchtime it was reserved for us – you have to move quickly!
Do you like the area?
Alex: I like it because it’s quiet, but at the same time you feel a sense of security because you’re surrounded by quite a few neighbours. The only issue is that it’s quite far away from amenities – there’s no shop within walking distance if you run out of milk, for example.
Fiona: As far as living in a city goes, I love it here. Because we are right on the edge of the city, you’re can be in the countryside in five minutes.
I wouldn’t always want to live so near to a city though! Growing up in the Highlands, the busyness can feel a little overwhelming. We’re not too far from Alex’s family though, which is nice.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Fiona: In some ways – we don’t have a huge amount of stuff, but I’d love a bigger kitchen and dining room.
Alex: It would always be nice to have more space, but there’s only us and the cat for now, so this is perfect.
What’s it like living together?
Fiona: It’s always just clicked somehow. We moved abroad to South Korea together having only met six months earlier, and luckily I found that Alex was actually really easy to live with.
Although he does need a gentle nudge now and again to help with the cleaning.
He has the same taste as me decor-wise which is always a bonus!
Alex: It’s easy. Although it hasn’t always been; it was an adjustment for us both, but once things started to click everything just runs smoothly.
Once you have that with somebody, it’s hard not to put a ring on it!
How have you made the house feel like home?
Fiona: The house wasn’t furnished when we moved in, so it helps that everything inside is ours and to our taste. There’s a lot of white furniture which I’m told won’t be so practical if we have children, but it makes the small space feel bigger.
We were allowed to adopt our cat, Patch, too, and he’s really made me feel happy here.
Alex: It’s hard to make big changes when you’re renting, but gardening helps. Planting and growing things in your garden really makes you feel like you’ve added something to the house that’s yours. Having your own furniture helps too.
Are there any issues with the house?
Alex: Only minor things – a few things are quite old and could do with fixing but, as I said, you’re reluctant to do too much when you’re renting. Anything major has been fixed incredibly quickly via our letting agents.
Do you have any plans to move again?
Fiona: I think the long-term plan is to move to the Highlands, but that will be a huge life change. We’re getting married in October, so that’s the focus for now.
Alex: I don’t think we would want to leave this house for another few years. It’s got everything we want for us right now.
And have you thought about buying a place?
Alex: Of course. It’s just a matter of saving up and laying down roots somewhere.
Fiona: Definitely. I’d like to think that we’ll be able to buy in around 3 years’ time, but I suppose we will have to see what the economy looks like by then!
Very wise. Shall we have a look around, then?
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 in London.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places in London 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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