I apologize for the lengthy radio silence. Monday was a bit of a day of recovery for me. I was tired from everything that I had squeezed in. The weekend was wonderful, but not much of a break. I did manage to field some calls from agents following up on the properties we had seen in Ealing. Yesterday, we met an agent for our first property viewings in Islington.
I don’t know if you are aware of the way it works if you are me and you want to rent an apartment in London. Basically, a landlord lists a property with one or more agencies it’s the job of an agency to help them determine the asking price and get it filled. “Renting” is called “letting” and you should know whether you are interested in a conversion, purpose-built, apartment, flat, or house. There are letting agencies every few blocks in the busier areas and every borough has its own set of agencies. So, company A will have lettings offices all over London that list/show properties in their respective areas only. When you set out, you have to identify the area you want to look in, then contact agents in that area to arrange to see what they may have on the market that fits your specifications. Rents are negotiable, they are usually listed by the week, and the properties move very quickly. Renting a property is like buying a house. You put in an offer and hope to win the landlord over by being a good tenant with smashing references or signing a long lease. Keep in mind I don’t have a car and I am using Drew’s AMAZING iPHONE (to be read in a big, loud, intentionally show-y voice), which is still a US number and very expensive to use–besides the fact that it is a pain for agents to have to call an international number to get me. I am in a huge city going to places I’ve never been to find these agencies and have a hard time judging how long it will take me to get from place to place. I also have to figure out my route and exactly how I will get somewhere. If you didn’t have that all sorted out, you now have a better idea why my body and my brain are fragile these days.
I think it was Saturday that we really decided that Ealing was just too far west of the heart of London. It was too similar to living in the residential areas we had lived in our whole lives. It just seemed to make more sense that if we are going to live here for a short time, we might as well have an experience that is uniquely “big city” and close to the sites. Ealing was nice and quiet with some very beautiful properties, but the cost of transport to (and distance from) work and play made it quite unattractive to us upon proper inspection.
Those considerations led us to look in the Islington area, which is on the outskirts of central London. It has quieter areas and a cool vibe. We did find something north of Islington, in Highbury, that was very nice and afforable. We also found an awesome loft in a converted schoolhouse on the same street as the flat where we stayed with Keith and Jen!
After considering the Islington and Highbury areas, our search opened up options moving closer in to central London. The type of properties we liked and the surroundings we were describing to the agents kept pushing away from the more residential areas. I have spoken to no less than 10 agents and I have viewed at least twice that many properties. Tomorrow I have three appointments to see new things and a second viewing of a flat that I would like to make an offer on; I want Drew to see it first. I was so excited that I forgot to take photos when I was inside. I did get two shots of the outside; I asked the agent to leave me there because it was close enough for me to walk to where we live now from the flat we were seeing. While I was standing there deciding which direction to walk, I remembered to pull out MY AMAZING iPHONE (again with the big, loud, intentionally show-y voice) and get the shots.
The flat is above a restaurant that looks quite nice.
It is the fourth floor penthouse, but it is still a one bedroomed postage stamp. I’ll not go in to great detail unless we get it–I would just hate to get your hopes up, hahaha!
The area is more of what is considered Clerkenwell. It seems to be a cool place to live (and maybe for me to work). The flat I’ve found there is close enough to where Drew works that he could bike, bus, or take a long walk to work (20-30 minutes). Transport links to great sites are also right on our doorstep. It’s quite exciting to think about living there. I also don’t want to get my hopes up; the landlord doesn’t have to take our offer. Depending on what else I see tomorrow I may or may not still want it, but I think I might : )
I’ve spent a bit of time with Drew’s workmates (from echo Europe). They’ve been really helpful and I am thankful that they have included me so much in their social outings. When you are surrounded by such masses of people, it is so easy to be lonely. That’s true irony. I don’t think I really anticipated how strange it would feel to have such little quality interaction with people on a day-to-day basis. Of course, I knew that we would have to make friends and find our “home” in London; that will take time. I just didn’t know how stark the contrast or the realization would be.
Drew keeps encouraging me to find time to relax and enjoy being off work. Although it is a bit torturous to think about not having a job for an extended period of time, the weather is quickly turning colder. There will be great opportunities for cuddling up in some coffee house with a comfy chair and great view to start writing any one of the five books that I’ve got swimming in my head. I might need to spend some time deciding which one will come out first.
When we have our flat situation sorted, I am sure I will have a perfectly lovely writing space. I envision that I might enjoy some reading as well. For now, though, I fancy letting sleep and some nice dreams take me. Maybe I will see you there.