What I Rent: Annabel, £2,300 a month for a two-bedroom duplex flat in Angel

Welcome back to What I Rent, our weekly series exploring people’s rented homes.

Each week we chat with a different renter about their experiences in the world or property, then have a nose around their current space.

This time we’re hanging out with Annabel Field, an architect-to-be and interior designer.

Annabel, 26, rents a two-bedroom flat with her boyfriend, a sales manager for a tech start-up, in Angel, Islington, having lived in the area for the past four years.

Here’s how they rent.

Hi, Annabel! How much do you pay to live here?

We pay around £2,300 per month in rent, plus a couple of hundred on top of this to cover our bills. Expensive – yes, we know!

What do you get for what you pay?

It’s a duplex apartment that covers the top two floors of a Georgian house. We have two bedrooms, one bathroom, and an open plan living, kitchen and dining area that leads out onto a rooftop terrace.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

Let’s be honest, there’s no such thing in London. It is extortionate to live here whether you are renting or buying.

However, it’s a good deal for an 85m2 zone 1 situated apartment with private outdoor space.

Plus, it had only just been renovated when we moved in so everything is brand new and very modern which was also very appealing.

Do you like the area?

We live in Angel in Islington and it’s an absolute pleasure! We feel lucky to call this area of London our home, its a lively and bustling area but still manages to retain its village-like charm thanks to a great high street which is packed full of bars, shops and restaurants.

How did you find the flat?

Good old RightMove. We couldn’t find any one-bedroom apartments that had a great outdoor space, so out of curiosity, I changed our search to include two-bedroom apartments as well.

Turns out in London, for just a couple of hundred a month extra you can get almost double the space and an outdoor area too, which we were fortunate enough to be able to do.

How have you made this place feel like home?

After years of living in student houses thanks to studying architecture (the longest course ever), and my boyfriend living in your average houseshare, we were desperate to make the next house we rented in London really feel like ours.

We opted for a property that offered a long-term contract and was available unfurnished, which immediately made it feel more like home. No more feeling like at any moment the rug could be pulled out from under our feet and sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress.

Instead, we have a home that caters to our comfort, needs and style, which as a designer is important to me!

People may question why we chose to go down the unfurnished route, but in my opinion, this is the easiest way to make a house feel like a home. That feeling and sense of belonging is absolutely reinforced and nurtured by the objects we choose to surround ourselves with.

When choosing the furniture, we opted to use similar colours, materials and textures throughout so that when the time comes to move, the items purchased are versatile and can work in any type of space.

I call this the golden thread theory which I wrote about on my blog, The Interior Aid if you fancy learning more about it!

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

Due to the house only just being renovated our landlord isn’t too keen on us making huge changes, which I think is fair enough considering it has only just been completed to a high standard.

It’s neutral, fresh and bright which is our interior preference anyway, so we haven’t found the need to change anything.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

We have plenty of space. When we moved in we were so excited to finally be able to have guests stay for the weekend and host, however, due to the pandemic that’s not yet happened!

Also, some may call me boring, but there is nothing like being able to hang your washing outside to dry. I believe it’s the one aspect of living in London that most properties don’t fulfill; to understand the need and benefits of a private outdoor space.

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

Due to everything being new there were a few teething issues with things like the heating but it was immediately fixed by the builder.

More recent issues stem from it being a Georgian house that was built in the 1870s, so there are a few movement cracks here and there but somehow they just add to the character of it overall.

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?

The main reason we live in central London is to make life easier for ourselves. Before the pandemic both of our jobs often required us to work 12 hour days, six days a week, so being able to walk to work gave us far more time to relax in between rather than spending that commuting.

We did the maths prior to moving here to see whether we could live outside of London, but due to commuting costs and our preference on the type of home we live in, it would have cost the same as the rent of this home, but with far less time to unwind due to having to travel.

Now, however, with attitudes to working from home shifting so much since March, the ability to live outside of London does seem possible, and by not having to commute in for five days a week we could actually to save for a deposit for our own home too.

Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?

We would absolutely love to own our home, especially because of the industry I am in!

We would love a big renovation project.

It does annoy me that there is so much pressure to get on the property market in this country though, its almost seen as a natural expectation to buy a property, when actually, that attitude doesn’t reflect the rising costs of property or our current economic climate.

So for now, we will sit tight, keep doing what we are doing and who knows what will come next for us.

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 [email protected] 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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