The Twenty-Something Series: Costs I didn't expect as a first-time renter

Renting for the first time is pretty nerve-wracking, and there are a lot of costs I didn't expect. In this post, I share a few things you have to think about when you start renting.

Renting, on the face of it, seems pretty straight forward. You pay a certain amount per month for the pleasure of renting a place to live, and you most likely budget to pay bills on top of that. Right?

Oh, God, there are so many things to budget for. I mean, the good news is that a lot of them can be paid upfront if you’ve got the savings, so you can get them sorted and not need to worry about them every month.

The bad news is: there are so many things to pay for on top of rent and bills.

I rented at uni, sure. With seven other people. We put about sixty quid into a joint account almost every month to pay for water and electrics, internet, loo rolls and group meals out. There wasn’t a lot else to worry about.

But as a first-time renter now I’m moving away from home to Durham for six months, it’s been a little hard to keep track of all the things to organise that need to be paid for. Which is why I thought I’d put together a little kind-of-checklist for all you other first-time renters as part of The Twenty-Something Series.

Administration Fees & Bond: 

The estate agency don’t just want to take rent off you every month. I paid £200 in administration fees when I sorted out my flat in Durham – this included all the referencing work that needed to be done, too.

There’s also a bond (deposit) to pay. For me, this was the same as the first month’s rent. I paid both the bond and first month’s rent bout two weeks before I got the keys.

Council Tax: 

Apparently, this is a thing. Apparently you also get a 25% discount as a single person though, so yay! That’s always nice!

How to sort out council tax: Find out which county the property you’re renting is in and visit the council’s website. A few clicks around that – or a Google search, like ‘how to pay council tax in [COUNTY]’ should get you there. I phoned up the council a couple of weeks before moving in to say, ‘I’m moving into this property soon and want to know how to sort out my council tax.’ They put me in the system and mailed me a letter with further instructions, and there’s a separate form on the website to fill in for the single person’s discount.

Also, because I'll have to cancel this after my six-month placement is up, I'll get a refund on the rest of the year. Always nice to know.

Contents Insurance: 

Okay, this wasn’t exactly ‘unexpected’, but I’m still adding this to the list. I added in legal cover, cover for my things away from home, etc., but didn’t feel like it was completely extortionate. I think it’s a little cheaper when you only want to cover your stuff, and not the building itself. I did spring for the super accidental cover thing, though. So I’m covered if I spill red wine on my rented sofa, or something.

I’m also pretty sure that I can get a partial refund if I cancel when I move out fo my flat in Durham – minus an admin fee.

Travel Insurance: 

Not unexpected for me as I've been off the family policy for over a year, but I figured I’d add it to the list. If you’re still on a household policy with your parents, that’s gonna end when you move out, so start looking for travel insurance if you’re planning to go abroad somewhere.

Car Insurance: 

Again, I’ll grant you, not unexpected, but the sheer cost of this one was unexpected. On a multicar policy, my insurance worked out at a few hundred pounds. On my own? Over a grand. A GRAND. And that was the cheapest I could get it, by the time I’d added legal cover and courtesy cars.

I've ended up deciding to get contents and car insurance with the same provider, though, because I got a discount on the second policy. Whoohoo! Discounts!

TV License: 

On the upside, if you cancel it within the first nine months, you get a refund on the time you don’t use! This is great for me, since I’ll only want it for about seven months total. Also, sorry to break it to you, but you need one of these even if you're just watching on demand on your laptop.

Changes to your driving license:

Unexpected in that THERE WASN’T A COST! Imagine my shock! Quelle bloody surprise! You need to change your address on your license when you move, but this is free to do. Hallelujah!

Line Rental:

This became the bane of my life within about eight minutes of browsing around for broadband deals. Broadband, that wasn't a surprise. That was an obvious thing to throw into the budget. 

But it’s practically impossible to get broadband without the provider wanting to throw in line rental as well. And as I’m only in Durham for six months, I don’t want a twelve-month contract for my broadband. (And no, I can’t just cancel after six months – a Google search reckons they’ll make you pay the whole twelve months’ worth of service even if you cancel early. Joy.)

This means I’m going for Now TV as it’s the only provider I can find with a rolling contract, which isn’t so bad actually. They’ve got a great package deal with broadband, Now TV – and, of course, line rental – that works out about £30 a month. Plus the installation charge. Which is £44. But given that the line rental would be £17.99 a month on it’s own, I can live with this one. Plus, I get Sky Atlantic. That's a pretty good deal as far as I'm concerned.

So. Many. Costs.

I’m pretty sure I’ll have forgotten something, and missed a few things off this list, just as I’m sure I’ll find a few more costs I didn’t expect to have to pay when renting over the next couple of months.

Are there any you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

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