I’m marking the end of my third month in London by placing a holding deposit on a flat. This was a tough decision for me overall since the system is very different, and I had to not let the estate agent’s high pressure tactics, distract me from thinking through my options carefully.
For the last week I had two apartments in mind, in the same neighborhood with similar features except with a monthly difference of 25 GBP. I fell in love with the second flat since its layout was unique, and on the first impression was presented very well. (It is common to show an apartment or home in the U.K that hasn’t been cleaned. So imagine my surprise walking into a bathroom with a grayish bathtub inside). I placed offers on both places, and spent the week negotiating, the first one — the hungrier agent came back to me with a 10% markdown and asked for the deposit right away. The second one, the landlord (according to the agent) was a little wary about renting to someone without a history in the U.K and so the agent was spending a little more time negotiating with her.
I spent the last two or three days sending emails back and forth asking very specific questions about my deposit, when the cleaning will take place, and how it will be cleaned, my eligibility–since I have been in the U.K less than three months, etc…before I decided on Friday night to send my holding deposit and go through the referencing check. Heck, I was as open and forthcoming as possible — so if I fail referencing they will have to give my deposit back, right?
This wasn’t the apartment I “fell in love” with, but its still a great apartment! I have optimism about redecorating the space to make it my own.
The second agent came back with a positive acceptance on my dream home, but I will wait a couple days before telling her I will withdraw. Who knows what Monday or Tuesday will bring with these other guys?
So, you’d think that last night I went to bed all calm and peaceful with my decision, but I still had many scenarios running through my head. I haven’t seen the lease or tenancy agreement yet of course, but I kept wondering about what if certain key items are not stipulated?
The agency manages the flat, so what if they don’t make repairs in a timely manner? Is it legal in this country to go without heat and hot water for months, because the landlord “can’t afford to fix it”? This is what my landlady’s daughter said, although it sounds rubbish to me. It is a legitimate agency that’s based all over the U.K with a few overseas offices, so it makes me calm but yet suspicious that I will be treated like a number. What if the building burns down or becomes inhabitable for another reason — will the agency provide me with a place to stay temporarily and reimburse my deposit and the couple months that I put down in advance?
One always hopes for the best, but we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario; so I want to be sure that I have protection or recourse. But I have to admit, this worrying may stem from another place. Up until now, I still considered my situation here in the U.K temporary. It really seems like a long vacation, I think about my time in weeks and have a hard time picturing where or what I’ll be in a month or two. My room– in a quaint part of northern London was temporary, my job — collecting data for the finance sector in Central London was temporary and suppose to end next week, and I always joked that I’m just giving this “postgrad thing” a shot, but somewhere in the last week or two that has all changed.
My housing will not be temporary, as I asked for a 2 year lease. My HR person at work acted like I was crazy when I asked her to verify that my 8 weeks are up, “You have a temporary rolling contract, some of these employees have been here a year and only had two weeks off”. And I submitted my literature review which received positive feedback and am now networking with people who are working in the field that I want to be in, and are commending me for taking on this project.
Everything is taking place, in fact even in the beginning of this post I wrote “neighbourhood” automatically, but my American spellchecker caught it and I changed it quickly. It’s a strange panicky feeling in the pit of my gut as I think about how all this is routine now. Waking up, tea and porridge, read a little, shower, hop on the tube – not the subway, my slow computer at work, grab a few things at Tesco or Sainsbury, come home type up some notes on the computer, check emails…, shower, another cup of tea, see what’s on the American news, text my friends on Facebook, and fall asleep before they can respond because many are on their way home from work.
And while I’m ranting, I could mention I’m almost through with a great novel called, Half of the Yellow Sun, that has been occupying my reading time this week, instead of dry academic writings for my project.
I’m not even looking forward to my Sunday softball game in a couple hours. My shoulder aches and I don’t understand how the temperature is reading higher than yesterday, but its cold and cloudy.
I’m growing roots, but I’m afraid I’ll be stuck again.