BIG NEWS! Andy and I are officially Londoners 😀
But before I get into the details of our new home, let’s backtrack to talk about the long, annoying, back and forth process of finding it in the first place.
Because Andy and I relocated here because of his job, his company provided us with a lot of relocation assistance. I may have mentioned in a previous post that part of that assistance was help finding a place to live. Before coming over to London, we were put in touch with Icon Relocation and told they would be handling the work of helping us secure a new flat. We had a few calls and email exchanges where we told our Relocation Specialist what we were looking for: 1-2 bedroom flat, hardwood flooring, washer/dryer in unit, etc etc. To be honest, I really don’t think we were asking for anything out of the ordinary however what (or rather who) made our situation tricky was Penny. “Getting a place that accepts your dog is going to be tough” we were told but we had no choice since leaving Penny in the US was NOT an option.
As the day of our move to the UK got closer, we were asked by our relocation specialist to give her two neighborhoods that we wanted to see flats in. Our picks were Islington and Clapham. Islington is just north of city center and a very popular neighborhood amongst young couples and families like us. There are plenty of shoppes and restaurants within a 10-min walking distance and seems like an area where there’s lots to do. Clapham is south of City Center. I don’t know too much about it but it also seemed like an area where there are restaurants and shopping close by. It was one of the neighborhoods that people would recommend every time we’d ask about ‘hoods so we decided that we should definitely add it to our list.
The commutes to work from both neighborhoods were pretty different in terms of what train/tube lines to take but the amount of time was relatively the same. A good commute was very important to us as we were tired of the long and jam packed bus rides from NJ to NY.
We had only one day to go out with an Icon Relocation agent and view properties. If we didn’t see anything we wanted to go for that day, we were on our own in terms of making appointments to view other properties. This put a little bit of pressure on us but we were super optimistic that we would find something on our one day out with the agent.
And find something we did! We saw not one but three dog friendly properties that we loved. Two in Islington and one in Clapham. And while all three were great, we really made our decision based on what the commute was going to be for us and which would put us in a more central location for getting to other places. So we went for one of the places in Islington.
But wait, when I say “went for” I don’t mean what you think I mean. Apparently we had to “make an offer” for the place. Now, this confused me too. I thought the price was what it was and you either took it or left it. But I guess not. I’ve told other London folks about this and they were surprised to hear this so I cannot say that this is the way renting (called letting here) a property works here but that is what we were advised to do.
The price of the place we wanted had actually dropped the day we viewed it making it within our budget which was great but it had one minor (aka MAJOR) issue that we needed to negotiate. One of the bathrooms had a tub with no shower head. Now, I like my showers – I don’t do baths. Actually, neither one of us are bath people so this was a serious issue for us. We made our offer for full asking price but asked that a shower head be installed into the bathroom.
Our request was denied.
So we did what we had to do – we walked away from it.
Thankfully for us, it worked out because the landlord was really into us as tenants – he liked our background, the fact that we were here as transfers from work and both working for really good companies (mine’s better :-p). Once we said we were walking away, the landlord relented and agreed to install the shower head. Yay, we win!!
Icon read and reviewed the tenancy agreement for us and negotiated anything on our behalf (they made sure we had a clause added that would allow us to leave the place after 6 months if it’s not working out – which is really important in case we ever need to pick up and leave London urgently). The landlord required a 8 week deposit (rent here in priced per week and not per month) which we had to pay upon signing the agreement. It took a lot of back and forth to actually get to the signing part as the landlord required documents from us that we either a) didn’t have because we are still so new to the country or b) didn’t have because we owned the last place we lived in. But finally, after several days, the lease agreement was signed.
And so we finally got the keys yesterday and did the “check in”. We don’t have “check ins” in the states so I’ll explain what it is. A check-in is when you go pick up the keys to your new place and meet with a check-in agent. This agent takes inventory of everything that is in the apartment, things that are wrong with it and any damage that might already exist. Then you, as the future tenant, take your own notes of the same things and, hopefully, take pictures for your records. This just helps you down the line in case the landlord wants to blame you for any damage done to the apartment that was there prior to your moving in. At this time, if you find anything wrong with the place that you didn’t see during the viewing, you need to make the landlord aware so he/she can get it fixed asap or at least make note of it. Our check-in took about 1.5 hours in total.
So, you’ve been hearing me mention our “flat” alot but, in actuality, it is actually a house! Who would have known that Andy and I would have come to London and ended up in a house but we did. It’s a two bedroom, two bath small, attached house. It’s a split level home meaning that it has two floors. It also has a small, outdoor space. And while there’s not much gardening that can be done to the outdoor space, you can set up a small table and grill out there for grilling some meats and halloumi (very popular here in the UK).
Below are some pics of the new Almonte residence. We won’t actually move in till next week when our furniture arrives so the place is pretty empty but at least it gives you the visuals.