Finding a house in London seemed like an easy enough thing to do: go on Spare Room.com or post on Facebook a couple of times and bam! You have a room.
It took me half a year to finally get a place.
We were walking home from a seminar one night and a friend very generously offered to let me stay with her for a month while I got adjusted to London, found a job and a house.
One week later I had moved from Southampton to Clapham.
We fit all of my stuff into my mum’s tiny car and then everything but one big and one small suitcase plus my tripod and yoga mat into the attic. It was like my year abroad all over again. I only had the essentials.
The first month was like a holiday. I had a couple of interviews, got settled. Indulged in the fact that I could go to anywhere in London with ease. Well, as ‘ease’ as London gets. It was a new adventure.
I was fortunate enough that my friend allowed me to stay on with her until December – paying a contribution towards bills. She helped me through many tantrums and low points – some of which were mentioned in last week’s post.
It was disheartening spending nearly a week on Spare Room and somehow still not getting anywhere with accommodation. At the time I was still planning on a holiday to Dubai and my budget was tight.
Clapham it turns out was the perfect place for my transition to London. I grew a thick skin, got super into Aussie coffee shops and my love for brunch and nik-nak shopping flourished. It was a blogger’s paradise. It’s like a blend of London and Surrey.
I am one of the luckiest buggers when it comes to friends.
Another friend then took me in for two months in their spare room in Shepherd’s Bush. Again, I contributed a small amount to bills, and life continued to twist and turn and be confusing.
The wonderful thing about being in Shepherd’s Bush was of course that I was a five minute walk from the one and only Westfield Shopping Centre! So every time someone came for coffee, we would go there.
I continued to look for rooms and jobs.
I finally got work a bit on track again but it was a period when I really wanted to grow up and take responsibility for what I was doing.
I realised I did not have the money for a two week holiday in Dubai and I had no money for a room deposit. I was having all of these thoughts of loans and being on the streets. (Ever the drama queen). It was time to be realistic.
I cancelled the holiday, extended my work contract and moved back to my mum’s.
At first it was like a breathe of fresh air. Knowing I would be coming back somewhere calm and I was surrounded by loved ones. I caught up on sleep and began to take myself seriously. I took on being ‘the inspiration for others to live their best lives’.
Life was moving forward, and it was perfect.
Note: when you give your word to someone, stick to it!
Three time’s the charm in my case and it took a lot of clearing up on my part. In the middle of March I finally got back in contact with a friend who mentioned there was a room going in their house in Lambeth for two months. Rent to pay, no deposit. I leapt.
Two months was all I needed.
I felt a sort of relief packing up and moving back out. Sure I was back on my own, but I no longer felt like I was encroaching on someone else’ space and generosity. I was back on my feet.
A room became available in the house I am now in and I didn’t need to think twice. The room is mine – once I have confirmed with the landlord – and I can bring my stuff out of the attic at last.
It has taken some perseverance, responsibility and patience. But it has happened!
Over half a year later, I am settled – ready to shuffle around some details – but finally putting down foundations.
The house for me was the crucial bit as everything revolves around your base. Like a plant with roots, I can begin to watch leaves, flowers and maybe branches grow.
Now, I’m not saying everyone’s journey will be half as long as mine. Some people have got places within a week, some within a year. But there are a few key things to remember when deciding to move to London.
- Time is everything. You can sit on sites and post post post on social media, but at the end of the day it really does depend on timing of ads and the timing of your response. You’ve got to be ready to leap in seconds.
- Contacts are everything. As you can see, there was no formal route for me. All my places came about because of who I knew, not what I knew – and I learned the areas of London that way. And that’s another important factor: speak to someone about the best areas to live in before you look! Cheap is great but not necessarily in Ealing, Crouch End or Bethnal Green. Going out in Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Old Street is fun, but if you work in centrally, it’ll be a messier commute. You get my gist.
- Budget! Budget! Budget! It’s true what you have heard, things are that little more pricey in the Big Smoke. Watch the spending and remember the cost of one journey on the tube is the same price as your average takeaway coffee – the amount builds up without you realising.
- Oyster Card. I haven’t bothered. I have contactless and the only issue I have so far is if it gets stolen or I loose it while out. While it somehow feels like a London right of passage in owning one, I would hate the feeling of worrying whether I have enough on there to last my journeys.
- The London lifestyle is not as glamorous as it looks – although it depends on your budget. It’s routine to see London workers filling out and spilling out the sides of pubs at 5pm most days of the week. To own new clothes and show off at least one designer-something. But it costs to maintain such a lifestyle. You have to be realistic. Transport strikes are very normal and you have to be prepared for long queues and crowds with no warning.
- London is a target. I don’t say this as a warning, but rather as a precaution. As a capital city with a lot of exposure internationally, London is a target for activist activity (yeah the wording sounds weird in my head too). I work between Temple and Embankment which is one or two tube stops and a five minute walk away from Westminster. When the initial attacks happened we of course knew we were safe, but roads were affected and we had to have follow up meetings with HR about how safe we felt to be at work. London is a closely watched city with a lot of activity, so there’s a necessity to be aware of that.
These tips aside, I am very happy to be back again and really looking forward to a summer at the parks and enjoying the experiences it will have to offer. There is no buzz quite like the London buzz.
Where would you like to live most in the world?