Live like a local.
Here we are in London, given two days with a relocation specialist to help us find a 2 bedroom, preferably 2 bathroom, flat. We gave her a list of our “must haves” - things that made perfect sense to us and, silly me, I didn’t think we were being terribly demanding:
Fun Fact: There isn’t an equivalent to the MLS in the UK, so when someone lists their house with XYZ Real Estate Brokerage, you will only see that property from an XYZ agent. So how does a regular joe navigate who is legit and not a scammer (wow what goes on!)? It’s also very time consuming because you have to go through so many different agents to see any real amount of properties. Fortunately for us, we were part of a relocation package and they pay for another tier up the chain, our own middle-man agent…someone who doesn’t get a commission on the rental. Instead, her job is to coordinate all the real estate agents (they don’t have the best reputation here) and properties and negotiate the contract on our behalf etc. There’s another post on that I’ll write later…stay tuned.
So, the rush was on. We saw so many places. So many shapes and sizes. Well, to be truthful, they were all pretty small by US standards. There were some places that had some perfectly large bedrooms, but those had horrible bathrooms, or ancient kitchens (and I mean a dorm fridge and no freezer). On the other end of the spectrum, they sunk a load of pounds into redecorating the bathrooms, but the bedrooms wouldn’t fit a BED IN IT… let alone a dresser or a closet. I know I downsized my stuff, but I really need a place to put the few clothes I DID bring. As we saw more and more houses, we realized this was just the way it was going to be. London people have no room to put anything away. Everything is just out in the open in a heaping mess. I found it very hard to look beyond that.
On a positive note, we loved seeing all the different buildings’ architecture. We saw a brand new high rise that came with a doorman, heated floors and a pool! But where is the London charm in that? In another, there was bathroom that had a plank over a bowl and oddly it had a flush, so we knew it was a toilet, but it was enclosed with glass doors?!? We saw a property with a bathtub in the middle of the bedroom, so they can now say it has an extra bath, and indeed it did, just in the wrong room! We saw properties that were absolutely perfect – oh wait, except for the mold. There were properties where the windows didn’t open so you’d be trapped inside with no ventilation. Some properties I fell in love with, but there was always some BIG reason why we couldn’t agree to rent them.
At the end of the day, my favorite was the “Loft.” It was in an old schoolhouse with beautiful grounds. It was completely refurbished inside with tons of LIGHT! It had 2.5 bathrooms(!). It advertised two modern bedrooms…oh, wait, by “modern” they mean teeny-tiny. Whomever rents this place will have ZERO CLOTHES. There was literally no room for a dresser or a queen bed. But, it even had a parking space for David’s bike (yes, we found this to be an issue). So, we went back and forth and tried hard to convince ourselves it would work… but it just wouldn’t. After the first day, both David and I were so deflated. We went back through all these pictures and try to lower our “must have” standards and determine whether we could live with “X” --whatever the X was--but in the end, we knew we couldn’t. And so I went to bed and had vivid, restless dreams of property after property after property…. Only to wake to another day with no place to live…yet.
Please enjoy these bad pictures… I took them quickly as we were rushed off to see yet another unacceptable property. Oh, and note: they were taken with a wide angle – so the rooms are considerably smaller than they appear!
Jody Steere | If there's somewhere you want me to check out or you have a question why something is done a certain way .... bring it on!!
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!