Flat-hunting technique No.1: Carpet-bombing

Time to read: 3 minutes

Last weekend I had to traipse across town, spending more then three hours in transit to go see two flats. It made me think about where I want to live rather strongly so this week I am using a new technique.

last week I learnt that

  • I don’t want to share with couples
  • It would make most sense to live out west
  • If it’s near West Kensington / Barons court that’d reduce a good chunk of travel overhead as it’s near where The Man lives
  • I love good transport and I already know that from The Man’s neighbourhood I can take buses to Hammersmith, Notting Hill and South Kensington or jump onto the District and Piccadilly lines.

this week i’m loving the SpareRoom search map

I’ve taken The Man’s postcode, stuck it into SpareRoom’s search, and adjusted the settings for the things I am looking for, such as budget (£900 or less with bills), number of flatmates (1-2), professionals only (not students), type of place (double room), etc. Then I load up the excellent interactive map version of the search results and look for places I know I can walk to which aren’t too noisy.


Did you notice? Each place has a marker, and it can be one of three icons.

  • little house: Available room
  • speech bubble: Contacted
  • star: Favourite

So it’s easy to tell if I have been in touch with an owner so as not to duplicate effort. And the places I really like, I will save as a favourite.

the technique

Every day for a week I’ve been opening the map and looking for the “new” postings, and contacting the owners. I’ve set up a notebook in the awesome Evernote where I keep a default “hello” note that I copy-paste into the message to the owner. Fast and easy. So now as the weekend is showing up, I have 5 viewings set up in that neighbourhood more or less back-to-back.

the hardest part

The hardest part is keeping track of where I am going when, so I don’t double-book or need to travel too long between appointments and therefore risk missing them. I’m using Evernote for that too, including a sequence number, rent cost and time of appointment in the note’s title, and all relevant photos, map and other information in the note itself. I then add the appointments to my calendar. I am planning on printing out the notes before heading out, because I’m worried my phone’s battery won’t last the 7+ hours of the running around I need to do if I also need 3G for evernote.
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a small tip

Another small difficulty is that ads are posted and taken down within a few days. Less than a week, in fact. Getting an “early bird” upgrade is nearly mandatory to have a good chance at finding a place if you’re pressed for time, as I am.
So the second I contact them, I need to be available to go see them, because the places go fast.
Tip: focus and only contact places that I will be able to go see in a single day.
Carpet-bombing one neighbourhood is allowing me to spend one very productive, if exhausting afternoon, and hopefully make enough progress in my hunt for a place to live.

some stats

Out of 13 contacts this week, 9 replied, 4 are worth seeing. The 5th, I was somewhat unfocused and now need to spend two hours going to and from Vauxhall in the middle of the day. Ooops!

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