A quest to find an apartment with a difference has led one Southampton couple to become one of the first to settle into a new city centre apartment building.
Stephanie Bermudez and James Garforth are among the very first to move into Phase Two of Bow Square, a new development of 279 apartments built exclusively for renters on the site of the old Fruit and Vegetable Market off Queensway and Bernard Street.
The second phase of the development, featuring more than 100 new homes purely for renters, only launched in July 2018. However, apartments have been snapped up quickly by people like Stephanie and James who are quick to spot benefits of Bow Square’s fresh approach to renting.
Stephanie, 25, said: “What really drew us to Bow Square, on top of the location, was all the added extras you get compared to renting a normal apartment. There’s a gym, social groups for residents, a communal living and kitchen area and even BBQs you can use in the garden. You just don’t get that anywhere else.”
Bow Square is Southampton’s first Build to Rent development, meaning the apartments are built with residents and a sense of community in mind and are only available to rent. The entire development is managed by one on-site team, making it a far more welcoming atmosphere and enabling everyday items to be addressed quickly and efficiently.
James, 26, said: “The ownership by one company gives us a real sense of security. Quite often when you’re renting you never know when the landlord is going to sell up from under you and force you to move. Here you know that’s not going to happen, so you can plan ahead with long tenancies.”
The cost of moving is another common problem among renters. Often a deposit of around £1,500 is demanded by landlords, along with the first month’s rent upfront.
Stephanie and James have been able to sidestep this issue thanks to the deposit insurance scheme that Bow Square offers. It allows residents to take an insurance policy out against a deposit, meaning they only pay £150 when they move in rather than the typical £1,500.
“It meant we could put that money towards things you get excited about with a new house; furniture and things like that,” said school teacher Stephanie.
The couple, who met at university, are keen to dispel the myth that renting is a bad thing for young people. James, who works for IBM, said: “Sure, we’d like to buy our own home one day and I’ve no doubt we will but for the moment renting is actually better for us. We would rather have a nice place like this to come home to than stretch ourselves to buy a house where we have to come home and do DIY every night.”
A small number of apartments are still available to rent in phases one and two. The third and final phase, featuring 68 homes, is due to be handed over in October.
For prices or to arrange a tour visit Bow Square.