Live like a local.
Homeless no more. So we continue with the flat hunting saga. It’s our last day to find a place (with our relocation specialist), and we’re feeling a real sense of urgency. Our first flat tour of the day was nestled into a charming street of white Georgian period homes. Right down the street are very fun restaurants and shops! Close enough to the tube… a 10 min walk to Hyde Park. We viewed the basement unit. The window’s opened= HUGE WIN. Loads of character in the dark wooden floors and it was CLEAN (helps when piles of people’s things aren’t polluting your imagination). Continuing our tour with a bit of optimism, we walked into the kitchen. At this point we were used to micro kitchens, so the fact that it had a freezer AND a refrigerator was a bonus! It had been remodeled and they kept an exposed stone wall…very eclectic! Then we went into the bedrooms – there were 2 and one definitely fits a queen and the other one probably will. That’s great! And they had also remodeled both bathrooms so they have some cubbies to put a toothbrush and a razor! Could this be real? The real kicker was a 7’x7’ cement private patio where David could store his bike (there are strict rules against locking your bike just anywhere!) AND there was a BBQ! (Fun fact: you can’t BBQ on a deck in London in case your neighbors might not like the smell of what you are cooking!? But I digress.)
David and I have now become experts at blowing through a property in less than 10 mins… We take a few quick pictures to remember the property when we talk about it later… To this point, there hadn’t been any that both of us agreed upon – and we knew it almost instantly. So, when we both had that “This might be it” look on our faces, you can believe our moods picked up. Maybe it wasn’t hopeless after all? Maybe today we’ll only see fantastic properties and we’ll have a bunch to decide between? OK, that was a little too much wishful thinking.
The day turned out to be long and exhausting. After seeing 8 more properties, we knew we had our hearts set on the “Charming Basement” one. (We had a name for them all: “Cat Lady”, “Dog Piss”, “High Rise”, “Mold”, “Crap everywhere”, “windows don’t open” “next to the projects” “Hole Toilet” – you get the picture.)
So now the process of bidding. Bidding? Such a bizarre concept. Whatever happened to good old:
• Landlord: I’m asking $$$ per month and you need to meet my criteria as a renter (job, good credit, etc.)
• Me: OK, I will fill out an application and I’ll pay $$$ Great … deal…. Sign papers.
NOPE! Not in the UK!
You see, in Part 1 of my story I mentioned how you had to meet with the agents that were representing each property. Well, as it turns out, landlords can list it with multiple agents at the same time so you have no idea if the property is being negotiated simultaneously with other people when you are talking with your agent (because she isn’t the only agent representing the property). Secondly, even if we agreed to their rental price, someone else can come in with a higher rent and a longer term lease and bump us out (even though we agreed to pay what they asked for). Also, there is no putting your bid out there, then having the landlord come back with a counter. There are no counters. Either it’s accepted or it isn’t. Done. Move on. So, you have to bid your best and final offer FIRST. In this case, it was a bummer because we didn’t want to start paying rent till we had to, but we had to say we’d take it March 23rd because that is when the paperwork will be ready and keys can be turned over.
But what are you going to do? It was the best place we had found that met the most of our “must haves.” We weren’t going to risk losing it.
So that is the story of how we found a place to call home. Now to learn to love life as a minimalist!
So again, my pictures are NOT to show the flat off, they were hastily taken so David and I could come back and trigger our memory on the property… so forgive the poor pictures. I’ll post better ones once we’ve moved in!
Jody Steere | I welcome any comments or suggestions you have
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!