Saturday, 11 April 2009

Stress for rent

From out of the blue and the April showers, one desision has created a huge list of ‘to do’s’. Put together with other chance situations, even the Belfast Wheel would have had trouble trying to turn my mood around this week. I may have gone a little stress-crazy for a few days. Oddly, in a year where I’m getting married, that’s not what I’ve been worried about. This one snuck up on us. It’s the joy of preparing to move house... again.

Before I begin, I realise at times my largely trivial problems in life pale in significance to many situations people find themselves in on a day to day basis. I do understand how lucky I am and I generally hope I appreciate what I have. Having a roof over your head after all isn’t a given but...

Norn girl and I rent. We would love to own our own place and have dreams of doing so but we’ve not a hope in an afterlife turned bad to be able to afford to do so for a fair wee while - especially with our wedding approaching. We both work full time and although our nearest and dearest are very supportive we have to work hard and prioritise for most of what we have. Like many our age we took out our own student loans – are in lots of debt due to it, we pay our rent and all our bills but we still manage by and large to live what we would describe as a comfortable lifestyle.

The problem of renting is that due to the short term nature of it, at least in our case, we end up moving a lot and giving away a lot of money just for the pleasure of being tied to a contract that’s made to make the landlord money and bring the estate agent commission... and its frickin annoying.

Except for those in the same predicament (a constantly increasing number of the population) I don’t think many people truly understand the pressures this puts on people making their own way in life. It’s something people know about all too well in many major cities like New York, London and Dublin, where short of a life changing sum of cash you're renting for life or moving somewhere to settle down. The majority of people in their early 20’s today who are able to buy have either saved since they left school, or as seems to be the annoying case, are helped out (keeping their heads in fantasy land) conveniently by the bank of mum and dad. For those of us trying to make the best of being stuck adrift of the bottom rung on the ladder, we dream of things like being able to paint the walls without asking, being able to keep a cat or not having to rely on someone (who only see’s you as figures in a bank balance) doing as cheap a repair as possible to somewhere you have to live. If I ever go even more crazy than I did this week and go into politics, my manifesto would include restrictions on limiting the amount of houses one person can own. Surely when something is in short supply, it has to be managed properly and not just left to the whims of markets seemingly left to be controlled by those with no vested interest in the well being of society?

The looming move was partially our choice initiated by Norn Girl and as a chance to reduce our outgoings. In the end it was largely forced by the estate agency and their seemingly non-legally trained staff. Who, from recent experience, don’t understand the terms of the contracts they are advising us to sign. Hence, even though we’ve moved house more time in the last 10 year than the average cat owner could go through hamsters and goldfish, we were technically at fault when it came to notice periods. It’s amazing how manipulative the service we had was. If ever you’re in a position to re-sign a lease, and it’s in a declining market like now, I would advise you get in early and haggle. As much as they lead you to believe you’re in no such position, we ended up unwittingly calling their bluff by actually wanting to move. It’s amazing that something that was to be no lower than the current rental 2 days before, could suddenly have dropped £30 a month less than the current price. Then after terrible service we hold our ground as we actually now want to not have to deal with them anymore and the rent suddenly drops to £55 a month less as a last gasp attempt to try and hold onto you. In the end we’re probably going to spend more than it was worth for the pleasure of moving but it’s the right thing to do, I do believe we’ll be happier in the new house.

So from what can only be described as voluntary stalking from the estate agencies over the start of the week. This was followed by a similar non-stop barrage of madness at work. Evenings were all spent with twisted plans of how to go about clearing space, staring at the mess in our house at the moment (wondering where to start) and trying to not forget birthdays. It’s been one long tiring, emotion sapping and brain tangling time.

Thankfully it’s an extended weekend with lots of football and more importantly with the weekend comes a sleep in. Like it has recently, the sun might peek out from the clouds and we might be able to be outside to enjoy it. Not only that, there’s new Red Dwarf on Dave to bring a smile to the face and as seems to be the tradition on the Easter weekend, some mood enhancing chocolate shaped eggs might be consumed. Therefore the good news is that although time is in short supply and there is so much to be organised, the little distractions we work so hard to keep might just let us sustain a reasonably positive state of mental health. What more can you ask for?


  1. Your story is charming and personal, giving a nice insight to life in NI. The way you write about invites reading and continuing on. You have a gift and you have given it to us.
    My blog is more utilitarian. It discusses a fairly narrow subject at . You may find it interesting or not.I'd appreciate any thoughts about it.

  2. Thanks, lol you'll be giving me a big head with comments like that! I just waffle. As per my first ever post its more cheap therapy and a time capsule for me rather than any sort of gift but I'll take any compliments going ;)

    I'll check out your site asap. Maybe you could sell some Northern Irish tribal art? You might have to sell a house to sell the mural on the side but it might be worth it!?



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