Moving out of home for the first time? Here are some tips

Video the property as a record of its condition when you move in and send it to the landlord

The past 18 months have been very strange indeed but while we are all well aware of the negative aspects of the pandemic, one positive saw family members from around the country return to base to sit out the lockdown with their parents and siblings.

For many, this extra time together was an unexpected bonus but the world is getting back to normal and, throughout the coming weeks and months, many people will be returning to their old lives or indeed moving on and out of the family home for the first time.

Conal O'Boyle (18) has already made the move from his native Donegal to Dublin where he hopes to start a new life.

“I moved out of my childhood house on June 26th, having just finished my Leaving Cert,” he says. “I will be staying with family in Dublin for a while before moving into student accommodation and although I felt sad to be leaving my childhood home, I was also excited about moving to Dublin, where I already have friends and family.

“I will miss the community spirit [from home]. But I think that change is good, and I love new challenges, so it was good for me to move away from home, even though there is some sentimental attachment to it.”

Gráinne Lynch from Galway is also going to be striking out alone for the first time this September when she starts a new job in Cork. She says the transition has been made a lot easier as her older brother was on hand to offer some invaluable advice.

“When my brother left home a few years ago to go to college in Dublin, he paved the way for me and my sister,” says the 20 year old. “He has given me loads of information and really helped with finding a new place and getting set up. The most important piece of advice he gave me was about getting accommodation in the first place. He encouraged me to start looking as soon as possible and make sure to have some references in place, a deposit ready and to be really friendly and open to landlords in my initial email requests.

“It must have worked because I saw some places I liked online and got offered two options. So I chose the one I liked best and when the restrictions lifted, he drove me down there to have a look and check out the area to see if it seemed safe and that the building itself was in good condition. This really put my mind at rest as now I know that it is a nice place and in a good location.”

Amber Davy is also heading off soon. She had been living in Dublin since 2016 while attending university and although she went home to Galway for the duration of the pandemic, is now getting ready to move again, this time to Oxford to start a master's degree. After some panic searching she has found a house-share within easy access of the college.

And having done it all before, she has some idea of what is ahead of her and would advise others who are preparing to leave the family home to use the move as an opportunity to declutter items accumulated over the years.

“My teenage bedroom was laden with trinkets and gadgets I hadn’t touched in ages,” says the 24 year old. “In preparation for moving, I’m going through all my possessions to decide what to bring with me and what to give away. There are, of course, some knick-knacks of sentimental value which will remain in my parents’ custody but clearing out physical items provided me with a sense of closure and helped prepare me mentally for moving on.

“Another piece of advice would be to research the area you are moving to in advance of arriving, especially when you are house-hunting. Bear in mind that when Google Maps indicate a 20-minute cycle, it may omit to say that this includes a large, un-cyclable hill, and although a house may be half an hour to the city centre, public transport may be very infrequent.

“This kind of essential knowledge can be hard to come by just using search engines, so if you have any contacts, reach out for advice. If not, there are a plethora of Facebook groups dedicated to helping newcomers settle in – but sometimes these involve scams, so be wary.”

There are 50-60 applicants for most properties. Your first email is very important

Gillian Hayes of wexfordlettings.com agrees and says due to the current level of demand for rental properties, it is advisable to be very well prepared.

“As awful as it sounds, property seekers really have to treat it like a job interview now and understand that there are, at the very least, literally 50-60 applicants for most properties,” she says. “Your first email is very important so explain a little about yourself and try to get across, succinctly, how well you will look after the property, etc. At least two references in writing are required for most agents, so have these ready to go – and don’t present a false reference as this will be picked up on immediately.

“Try to make contact with the agent directly, we’re all really working online now but do try to call or at the very least send a good introductory email as it does help – persistence pays off, so don’t give up.”

The rental expert says it is important to check that agents are licensed with the PSRA (Property Services Regulatory Authority) and if the property is only available to view virtually, make sure to ask to see pictures of the outside area too. And if you can visit in person, do. It will give you a good idea of the property and the area, even if you can’t go inside.

“Be sure to ask if any bills are included – even though it is normally none – and keep a record of information regarding this,” she advises. “And when you are successful in finding a property, take a video of its condition and send that to the agent or landlord to have a record of what it is like at the start.”

The best websites to find rental properties, are, according to Hayes, daft.ie and rent.ie but there will be local options too and students should check out Homestay, Student House, Fresh and Facebook groups relating to their individual colleges.

Raymond Curran of franklins.ie says there are some basic requirements landlords must put in place before letting a property including access to a working four-ring hob; extractor over cooker; hot and cold running water; fridge freezer; washing machine and drying facility; microwave; fire blanket and working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Requirements also include heating in every room; ventilation in bathrooms; window covers in bedrooms and living spaces; evacuation plans in apartments and restrictors on high windows.

The Donegal-based lettings manager says there are also a number of requirements renters should have in place when applying for a property.

“Landlords will often ask for previous rental references which obviously will not be available from a new renter, so a guarantor letter from a parent or guardian will then be requested,” he says. “Ideally if the tenant could have work references or character references this may also be beneficial. A copy of photo ID will be required, along with contact details of tenant and guarantor, the tenant’s PPS number – for registration on RTB – and a deposit of one month’s rent in advance. Some student lets will request college term payments in advance or the full college year.”