You guys. It’s a travesty to all that is bloglike that I have not been live-blogging my flat search here in London. Talk about trials and tribulations!
To catch you up, let’s start with the cast of characters. Where would you rather live?
- New River Head — A tiny one-bedroom flat on the third floor of a Grade II listed 19th Century building with a private terrace overlooking a formal rose garden, and across the street from one of London’s best dance performance venues.
2. Camden Passage. An antique-filled two-bedroom flat in an 18th Century Georgian building on a charming pedestrian-only street, with one of England’s top-ranked cheese shops just across the way, and a book-and-antiques market on the weekend.
3. Dignum Street. A spacious one-bedroom flat on a quiet residential corner with windows on three sides and an little walled community garden in the back so full of foxgloves and roses and a curmudgeonly gardener it feels straight out of Frances Hodgson Burnett.
If your answer to the question “where would you want to live?” is all of them, then we’re in the same boat. And in the past two weeks I have been on the verge of living in all three!
I saw all these flats on the same day two weeks ago and, because of the quick pace of the London real estate market, made an offer right away. I was taken with all three but my impulse was to go with Camden Passage — location, location, location! But of course the minute I put in my offer I was instantly wracked with indecision and (after a couple of long and angst-ridden calls to Justin and Amanda for moral support) decided that I would be happier with New River Head. So I made an offer on that one, too, and set Camden Passage to the side.
My offer for New River Head was accepted, I paid the deposit and gave all my references, and I was confident I was about to live happily ever after. Then I got a note from the realtor saying that the landlord had decided to sell the flat outright to someone else. All my fantasies of breakfast on the terrace up in smoke!
I pivoted quickly to my alternates. I learned that Camden Passage had an offer pending, so I assumed I had lost it and went after Dignum Street instead. It was on the high end of my budget and the landlord wouldn’t budge on price, but it was such a great flat and location that I decided to splurge a bit and go for it.
So again, my offer was accepted, I paid the deposit and was on my road to settled domesticity. Until I saw the lease agreement. Lease agreements are often very landlord friendly, but this one was outrageously so. Unlike any other landlord I’ve worked with who would agree to take care of the property, this guy was trying to shift all liability and responsibility to me. He would make sure the walls were standing and the gas line worked, but I was on the hook for everything else. I tried to negotiate a more reasonable approach but the landlord refused to budge, and in a way that convinced me he would be a nightmare to deal with. So I walked away.
By this time I started to feel a little panicky. All my best prospects were falling one by one, I was running out of time on my temporary housing, and with everything going on at work I couldn’t take any time off to do more flat hunting.
So I did two things: First, I called my boss and told him I wanted him to extend my housing benefits. Second, I called the realtor for Camden Passage and asked whether the other offer had gone through. She said it was still pending, apparently hung up on the prospective tenant’s request to rent it unfurnished and at a discount from asking price. I said I would take it fully furnished and at full asking price.
I got the flat. Or, at least, I’m now in the same position I’ve been in twice before: The landlady accepted my offer, I’ve paid the deposit and am now filling out the paperwork. Two weeks ago I would have thought it was a done deal, but now I know I can’t count my chickens just yet.
So fingers crossed. With any luck I’ll be moving in across the street from the cheese shop at the beginning of August!