House-hunting is the third most difficult part of life in London. As I am about to move into my fifth house in less than 18 months, I reckon I have more than enough experience to make that call.
Behind finding a job and surviving the ghastly winters, searching for a roof over my head is my third most-hated London past time.
As you’re probably all well aware, there’s plenty to hate about the process. I just can’t decide what part of it exhausts me the most.
There’s the hours you have to spend trawling through thousands of ads on Gumtree and Spare Room.
Then, once you’ve found a place that a) won’t break the bank, b) isn’t a hoax and c) doesn’t ask for sexual favours in lieu of rent payments, the emailing/calling/texting process begins.
Thanks to a little ‘Early Bird’ feature on a certain website, this is the first of many expenses to rear its ugly feathered head.
Even at this early stage, lunch breaks and evenings are wasted as you fire out emails and texts.
Sadly, the most common reply goes something like this: “Sorry, the room has already been taken. Good luck with your search”.
Thanks, I’m sure as hell going to need it.
Once you’ve got a more favourable reply, the next step is to cancel your plans because, more than likely, you’ll only be able to view the room you like on a night you’re previously engaged.
Next up – getting to the place.
The Tube line you need will probably be closed, so you’ll have to rely on buses. Once you’ve arrived at the place, your time to shine begins.
With so much competition around, looking at a house is more like an interview. If the people living in the flat are decent enough to care, they’ll probably put you under the microscope.
And you’ll do the same to them; is the hairy mole on that guy’s chin going to drive me nuts? Are they going to smoke inside even though they said they never do? Will they sniff my underwear when I’m out?
All these questions and many more are likely to skip through your mind.
Once all involved have seen and said enough it’s time to leave and, if you like the place, get ready wait. You let them know you’re keen, and then, just like after a job interview, you’re forced to wait and see if you’ve made the final cut.
Once they decide to invite you into their home, the financial pain hits. You want how many weeks’ rent as a deposit? It costs how much to add my name to the lease?
However, if you’re new to London or you’re thinking of moving, don’t let all this turn you off the idea. After all, they say that a change is as good as a holiday.
They forgot to mention it’s much more expensive and a lot less fun.
Also see: UK Arrival Guide on New Zealand Times