Not right away but it is an absolute now, probably in the new year. My cousin sat down with me yesterday and we had a further chat about things, as she'd been thinking about this again. Mostly she wants to get on with 'house stuff' sooner rather than later and, to be fair, I've taken advantage - and not in the best way - of being here and having so few responsibilities.
The biggest obstacle for me is deposits & affordable rents once I'm on my own. I've called in the debt that my sister owes me (£200) which will go straight towards that, and have to shave, shave, shave my already relatively slim budget, and put all those funds towards a deposit. My cousin has said I can have two months rent free at the end of the year, which will give me £900 and is a huge relief. I've been thinking about a Saturday job but they seem hard to come by, although I will keep my eyes peeled and have just this morning had another thought about the current rent with my cousin which I'll discuss with her at some point.
She's also willing to sell me her old sofa and all the bedroom furniture for about £100 so that I'm not starting with nothing. I'm happy to accept! As well, it means I'll be scoping out the thrift shops looking for fun, colourful and funky bits and pieces to put in my new place. I've found one in Lyndhurst which has a gazillion cutlery items, so can mix and match to my heart's content. It's a start.
Things I need to consider and budget for:
1. Rent - what's the maximum I can comfortably pay each month?
2. Council tax - like property taxes, this pays for rubbish removal, street lighting, road maintenance, etc. There's no getting around it, but each property pays a different amount so I have to account monthly for this.
5. Broadband/internet, TV license fee.
6. Food, car & transportation.
7. Managing agent's fees (if using one), deposit and first 4-6 weeks rent.
8. FUN! I need to entertain myself and have enough fun money to go out for tea and cake or lunch or take a weekend away somewhere once in awhile. I can't be 'house poor'.
I've decided that I need to find a place in Totton which, honestly, is a bit of a dump, but has both direct bus and train connections to Southampton, three big grocery stores, a library, my doctor and dentist, and my social group. It's still close to the Forest and my cousin, too, so while it's not pretty by anyone's standards, it's convenient and the prices aren't more or less than anywhere else. It's only 5 mins on the train to Southampton, too, and there are more trains in the evening as it's basically a bedroom community for Southampton. There's also a direct bike route into town.
There are just fewer places to rent, that's all. But no matter! I'm confident I'll find the perfect place.
So what would I like in my own place? A flat or maisonette; one-bedroom; off-street parking ideally and a place for my bike; walking distance to train/bus; bright and not too modern. I love a bit of character but appreciate that all the 'newly refurbished' places are clean and modern and what most people want and expect.
So the hunt is on! There are several places online at the moment that I'd consider looking at but there isn't much point until I have some money put aside in case I find 'The One'. I'm going to put the word out to my friends, colleagues, etc., as that can work too. They know far more people than I do and who knows what'll turn up?