01/02/2015

Moving House in London



(Photo via ExCel London)

I have done this twice before. Moved house from one London flat to the other. And everyone who has moved to London from another city/country without having friends or relatives who already live in London will know HOW HARD that is. All the things you need. And the never ending cycle of 'no bank account without proof of address, no flat without bank account' and the 'no job without bank account and no bank account without job'. But this is a whole other blog post that I may do in the future, too. Would you be interested to read about how I moved to London and any tipps I can give for people who want to do that?

Well, once I got my first place in London in Kensington I was so excited. But the contract was for six months only, so I knew I was going to have to move again soon. I moved with someone British and we had a guarantor, so it was fairly easy to get my next flat in Newham (I cannot recommend that area at all by the way...)... as I didn't like it much there, I decided once the one year that I had to stay there was up, I would move again. At that point I knew London a lot better, knew what areas were okay, which ones are shady and the ones I liked. Of course I could not just pick and choose, as London is very very expensive. But I was unbelievably lucky. I found two girls online on Couchsurfing who also wanted to move right when I wanted to, so we met up, liked each other and decided we were going to look for a flat in North London. We only had about one week to find the dream flat so we were all anxious, but you also have to know that the property market in London is super fast and flats never stay empty very long, so looking months in advance is hardly ever of use. As I said, we were unbelievably lucky as one evening I found an ad for a flat in Seven Sisters on Rightmove, the eMail contact given had a gmx.de extension, so I knew the person renting this flat had to be German or at least had lived in Germany. We called them up and arranged a viewing straight away. I jumped on the Overground and met with the landlady, who told me she had actually lived in Germany for quite some years. We instantly liked each other and the flat was amazing. Very spacious, bright rooms, wooden floors, everything newly refurbished - it was clear, I wanted that flat. As she was a private landlord no agency fees applied and I sent over all mine and the girls references to her the same night and within 5 days the contract was signed and we had our dream flat secured.

I have lived in this flat for almost exactly two years now and I still really like the flat. I have a very big room, a balcony.. But it is time to move on. So in November I terminated the contract with the moving out date set to the 31st of January, my birthday. Well, let me tell you, everything has gone terribly wrong this time. I haven't found a flat in time, so I have to crash at someone's place. All my stuff needs to go into storage, I had to rent a super expensive moving van. And I don't really know where to go from here. Agency fees in London average at about £180 pounds. That's just admin. Checking references can be a lot more. Also they do need you and everyone else in the flat to have a certain income, and not all the people I am looking to move with fall in that bracket. Some are students, some just don't live in London yet, hence haven't got a job here. It is very hit and miss with the flats here. I viewed three this time around. One was amazing, but at the last second one of the people I wanted to move in with dropped out so it was too big. The next one I viewed was in an amazing area, but the flat itself just wasn't very nice. And lastly, one flat was okay. Okay in every way. Okay area. Okay flat. But it didn't feel like the flat I would live in. So here I am.

I am going to try and look again in late February and hopefully I will have more luck. This is to say that things can go either way sometimes. I still see this as a positive thing though. Who knows, maybe I will find the perfect place in February that I wouldn't have found any earlier?...

If you are in a similar situation... Here is what I recommend.

1) Be quick. Always.
I am sure you are already looking on Zoopla and Rightmove like a lunatic. But don't wait around. If you see a flat you like CALL IMMEDIATELY and schedule a viewing ASAP. Not for tonight. For NOW. If you are at work explain to your boss you need to do viewings. Chance is he has been through the same and will give you some time off.

2) Be prepared.
If you had a viewing and want the place, then put that deposit down. So you have to have it ready. Also have all your references handy, too.

3) Be patient.
This one is by far the hardest. But moving into a new home cannot be forced. If you find yourself in a situation like me where you just haven't found the place then... Give yourself more time, if you can.

Bottom line... London is amazing and living here is worth all the stress. But it is a lot of work and nothing just falls into your lap. Just think about how many people you know who would kill to live in London... Well, that's why empty flats here don't last long. Someone wants the flat you want, too.

Good luck if you are one of those people on the hunt...

- Jen.

1 comment:

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