Monday, December 26, 2011

...and then we had to move.

Life in London continues to go well! However we had a bit of a challenge in the fall (as David launched into the final, busiest stages of his master's work) - our building was sold at auction and the new landlord immediately gave notice to all the tenants. This left David and I with eight weeks left to live in our apartment, when we are were only planning to remain in the UK for about four months tops. We offered more money for the ability to stay, we begged, we groveled (I offered to cry but didn't get the opportunity) - to no avail. Moving to a new apartment was our only option.

At the same time, my work was in a position of needing me to stay on about another month than originally intended. I used the opportunity to secure a contract for my tenure (rather than week-to-week temp work) and so I will be in my current office manager job until the end of February. In fact, I'm hearing rumours that they would be interested in keeping me on long-term - it's nice to be wanted!

Aside from the inconvenience of the timing (which was huge), we were so sad to be forced to leave our apartment which had been such a good set-up for us. We knew we would have little hope of finding something a) short-term; b) affordable; c) at the same level of niceness as our first place; d) in an equally convenient location to our destinations (school for David, work for me.)

I mean... look how nice it is!  :)  

In a show of domestic grief I baked a pie.

Don't make me leave!

Maybe if I give the new landlord this pie he will let us stay.

So I found myself plunged again into scouring sites like Zoopla, Findaproperty and Primelocation to land us a new place to live. The trick in London is that places are snapped up very quickly. By the time a listing makes it online, it is probably practically taken already. And you can pay a lot of money for a not very nice place. Well, it was a team effort as usual - I combed the listings in our price range obsessively, weighing all the options from a truly short-term rental with all utilities etc. included, to a longer-term rental like the one we were currently in, with the understanding that we'd have to leave a little early and absorb the cost. We looked at a few apartments, some of which were crummy to the point of absurdity. (One had the bathroom split between two sides of a hallway, so that if someone was in the bathroom with the door closed, you couldn't get in or out of the bedroom. Oh and carpet on the bathroom floor - ew.)

One day while I was at work, one of our lettings agents got in touch to say that he had an apartment available in our price range, close to Streatham rail station. Streatham is on the same rail line that we normally use, but one stop closer along the line to where we normally go. (David takes one line straight into Elephant and Castle to go to LCC; I go to Herne Hill and switch to cross the river and get in to London Victoria for work.) Well, the lettings agent said he could show us the apartment immediately, but I was stuck at work. So I took the appointment, and called David at home with instructions on how to go see the flat. I could tell by his tone when he called back after seeing it that it was a good find and we should go for it.

And so it was, on an unseasonably warm day at the end of September, that Hilary and David loaded their stuff into a friend's borrowed minivan and moved from Tooting to Streatham, to an apartment Hilary had never seen.

And they lived happily until their lease's break clause.

David and me at Streatham Common.

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