Remote Workers: What to Look For When Finding a New Home

Guide Articles May 24, 2022

Sadly, we can’t always be picky when finding a new rental. Rent, bills and the deposit (which doesn’t have to be paid upfront, by the way!) are often the deciding factors.

Choosing a property with a dedicated home office may be way out of budget. But having a space that’s well suited to remote working, especially if you work from home full-time, is important.

You absolutely need some things if you want to work comfortably all day, every day. Some other things, like having lots of natural light, are harder to find. But it’s all about the potential of a space.

In this article, we’ll share our top things to look for when finding a new rental as a remote worker. If a rental doesn’t have these things, we’ll also provide tips to help you find a suitable workaround.

1. A Suitable Workspace

Naturally, the most important thing you need to look for when finding a new rental is whether you’ll have access to a suitable workspace.

This means a desk area that has:

  • Enough nearby plug sockets for your screens, laptop chargers, lamps, etc.
  • Suitable legroom (a narrow desk against a wall or in a corner won’t be comfortable for long periods)
  • Space for an ergonomic office chair to be pulled out without hitting anything

In an ideal world, the workspace will also be:

  • Not facing a wall
  • Near a window or somewhere with enough natural light
  • In a living space, like a living room or kitchen, rather than a bedroom

Be careful about where your landlord or letting agent says you can put a desk. While they may think that a random spot along a living room wall is suitable, it may not be as practical or comfortable as they say it is!

2. Suitable Wi-Fi Speeds

We’ve all been on a Zoom call where somebody’s connection drops and their face freezes in weird places. Don’t let that be you in your new rental!

A temporary break from a boring meeting may be nice on occasion. But when it happens multiple times a day, the novelty can quickly wear off.

Check the connection speed of your new rental by entering the postcode into Ofcom’s broadband availability checker. This will show you what speeds you’ll have access to.

Remember, if the landlord is providing Wi-Fi, ask them what the internet speed is and get it confirmed in the lease. Many landlords won’t pay out for a faster internet speed if they’re the ones “footing the bill” (even though it’s you that’s paying for it, really).

If the speed isn’t suitable, you can negotiate to remove it from the lease so you can pay for Wi-Fi yourself. Or you can ask the landlord to increase the speed to something more suitable.

If a landlord needs an empty property filled, they may agree without an extra charge. However, some may ask for more money to cover the costs of increased speeds.

If your landlord agrees to provide a faster internet connection, get it confirmed in the lease agreement. When you work from home, having a fast internet connection is important, so you don’t want the landlord to reduce the speed in the future to save money.

3. Phone Network Signal

Just like your Wi-Fi, you’ll want to ensure your phone signal is top-notch if you work from home and use your mobile for work calls.

If you don’t use your phone for work, having a good signal is still important for personal calls.

Use Ofcom’s mobile availability checker to check your phone’s coverage at the rental.

4. Working from Home Restrictions

Since the 2020 pandemic, working from home has become more normal across the globe.

But, unbeknownst to many, there are some restrictions on whether you can work from a rental property. This usually relates to technicalities about whether a rental is set up for residential or business use (source).

Most landlords won’t object to tenants working from home in a rental property if they are salaried employees.

But if you plan on running your own business from a rental, this can be a very different story. It usually depends on what address your business is registered to.

Either way, make sure you ask your landlord or letting agent whether you can work from the property and what restrictions may apply.

If you work from a rental without permission, you could be breaching your lease and be at risk of eviction.

Related article: Productivity tips for remote-working tenants

5. Previous Tenant Working Arrangements

If the previous tenants worked from home, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s set up nicely for remote work.

Ask your landlord or letting agent whether the previous tenants worked from home and why they are moving.

Just be careful to still check things like Wi-Fi speeds and network signal, even if the letting agent tells you the previous tenants comfortably worked from home.

If they are moving out, it could’ve been because of a bad connection, which the letting agent may not be candid about.

It’s always best to double-check that the rental has everything you need (and not take your letting agents’ word for it) before signing any paperwork.

Related article: 10 Vital Questions to ask when viewing a new rental

6. Noise Levels

Asking about the noise levels should be one of the main things you do when viewing a rental, regardless of whether you work from home.

Some people prefer to work in silence, while others enjoy a bit of background noise.

Whichever you prefer, make sure the rental has it.

Remember, don’t just consider the noise levels outside when choosing a new rental to work and live in. Ask what the neighbours are like, too.

The last thing most of us want when we’re on a Zoom call is having our colleagues hear the neighbours arguing or having a party!

7. Local Amenities

Before you decide on a rental, ask yourself: is there a coffee shop nearby? And do your favourite delivery apps work in the area?

We know not all remote workers order takeout for lunch and go for coffee-shop walks once a week. But we think we’re right in assuming that many of us do!

When you work from home, you’ll normally spend most of your time in the local area. So it’s preferable if your new rental has good access to all the “essentials”.

If you’re deciding between two rentals, consider things like:

  • Which one is closer to the gym or the high street?
  • Which one has better views or outside walking route?
  • Which one has more or better takeaway delivery options?

8. Natural Light

Most of us dream of living somewhere that has lots of natural light. But if you work remotely, access to sunlight should be a priority, especially if you’re at home full-time.

Studies have shown that natural light in an office environment can impact our productivity levels. It can also help boost our overall health and wellbeing by improving our mood and sleep quality (source).

Unfortunately, we can’t always be too picky with where we live. Rentals with big windows and patio doors are often very expensive.

However, there are workarounds. If natural light is limited in most rentals within your budget, consider the potential instead.

For example, think about:

  • Can a large mirror be placed near the desk to make the space appear lighter?
  • Will the landlord let you repaint the walls a brighter colour?
  • Can you change the blinds or curtains to something more translucent that allows more light in?
  • Are there enough plug sockets near the workspace to set up a daylight lamp?

Related article: Quick & easy decorating ideas for small rental apartments

Hey! Are you moving soon?

Good news. You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.

For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.

A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.

We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!

Get a Lifetime Deposit: Get started.

Will Southall

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