What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a house in Colchester, Essex

What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a two-bedroom house in Colchester, Essex: Debs and Gus the dog in the living room

Meet Debs, who rents a two-bedroom house with her dog, Gus (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

Fancy taking a look inside someone’s home and seeing how they’ve made it their own?

What I Rent is our series that lets you do just that.

Each week we chat to someone about their renting experience and nose around their interiors.

Last time, we were in Oxford with Liz and Stephen, who pay £1,250 a month for their two-bedroom house.

Today we’re in another two-bed house, but in Colchester, Essex, with Debs, 41, and her dog, Gus.

Debs is a digital creator who has lived in Colchester since 2004, having moved over from her home town of Bury, Lancashire, then started renting after selling her marital home following a divorce in 2019. 

Here’s what she rents.

Hey, Debs! How much do you pay to live here?

I pay £870 a month for rent. Bills have obviously all just gone up. Council tax is around £127 per month and probably around £200 for everything else.

What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a two-bedroom house in Colchester, Essex: debs in the dining area

Debs started renting after selling a property following a divorce (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

And what do you get for what you pay?

A house with two bedrooms, one full bathroom and a loo downstairs.

Downstairs is an open plan living/dining room with a side study/storage room and then a separate kitchen through glass doors.

It also has a small garden, with use of a bigger part of grass behind the property too and a driveway for two cars.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

Yes. It’s such a lovely house that was a fairly blank canvas and quite a lot of storage, like built-in wardrobes in the bedrooms and another cupboard with a window that I use as a beauty room.

My landlords are lovely. I rent through an agent but I also deal direct a lot with them and they are swift to fix problems or answer me if I have questions. They also allowed me to have dogs (I moved in with two originally before he passed away).

I think to be this close to town, with a driveway and quite a lot of space is amazing for the price.

This is Gus. He lives here rent-free. (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

Whereabouts is your home? What do you think of the area?

My home is on really lovely, quiet suburban road, but it’s right near the town centre. Not that you’d ever know that, its such a hidden gem.

The area is lovely, they have a Facebook group for all the residents and lots of events happening on special occasions and there’s always plants for sale at the end of peoples driveways and people say good morning and hello.

It kind of has a village feel to it.

How did you find the house?

I first dismissed the house when a friend suggested it to me when I was struggling to find somewhere.

It was listed with the agents who were selling my home so they got me in to see it and I actually really liked it. It had real potential.

Debs is keen to show people how to make rented properties feel like home (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

How have you made this place feel like home?

I’ve added touches of DIY and colour, which is very me. Plus I have filled it with furniture I love, including some secondhand bargains and hung pictures, etc.

I am of the opinion that decorating a rented property isn’t wasted money, it’s worth it to make the place feel like home.

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

I have been so lucky that my landlords are always happy to let me do stuff in the house.

Part of what I do as a digital creator is make DIY and makeover videos and I really wanted to show people how to decorate a rented property.

I started by asking for permission to do small things like paint shelves or walls. They saw the standard of my DIY and so I have been able to do bigger projects like put vinyl tiles down in the bathroom and makeover the entire kitchen painting cabinets and tiles and sanding all the worktops.

They have also contributed the cost to some of the bigger items like the new sink and tap in the kitchen.

She loves DIY and seeking out secondhand finds (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

Any other perks?

I mean I’m pretty lucky that my landlord mows my lawn when he comes to mow the large field behind the property. That’s pretty handy.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

I don’t think I’ll ever have enough space… I buy a lot of second-hand furniture to make over so the only thing I’d love is a garage.

Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?

Any times I’ve had any problems they have all been sorted pretty quick through the agents reporting faults system.

The only issue the house has that causes me any problems is that I have no side access to the property, meaning I have to take my rubbish etc through the house. But it’s a small thing.

What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a two-bedroom house in Colchester, Essex pastel toned artwork on a shelf

You’ll spot plenty of soothing pastel shades (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?

I would be reluctant to leave this house because of how nice it is and how great my landlords are. I know they have other properties that are all filled with long term tenants because of this reason.

But I’m also in rentals for the freedom to be able to move easily, especially if I wanted to move in with a partner in the future.

And do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?

I would like to own a house again one day, mostly just because I’d like to tackle a bigger project than just decorating.

I’d love to buy a project house and do the whole thing up – that would be so fun!

True that. Shall we have a look around?

Welcome in – here’s the living room (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
It’s nice and bright (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Adding plenty of prints livens up plain white walls (Picture: Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
There’s space for a dining area, too (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Some good messages here… (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
The kitchen (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
A matching toaster and kettle? Nice (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
It’s nice to have a view of the garden while you’re doing the washing up, no? (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
You know you’re getting old if you look at this picture and think: ‘ooh, what a lovely tap’ (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
We like a good laundry corner (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Debs is lucky to have some outdoor space, too (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Imagine having your breakfast out here (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
And a shed, too? Lucky (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Back inside, let’s check out the upstairs (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
This is the spare bedroom (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Gotta have some pampas (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Hi, wooden duck (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
An interesting bedside book selection (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
And here’s Debs’ bedroom (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Very neat and tidy (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
Yes, that is a little TV (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
And a cushion to match the bedsheets (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a two-bedroom house in Colchester, Essex View of the cupboard that has been converted into a makeup and beauty room

Debs turned this cupboard into a mini beauty and dressing room (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk))
Cute, right (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
The bathroom (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
A plant to bring some life (Picture: SWNS/Metro.co.uk)
And finally, the toothbrush shot you’ve been waiting for (Picture: SWNS)

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.

Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected]. You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.

Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.

We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).

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What I Rent: Debs, £870 a month for a two-bedroom house in Colchester, Essex