Sunday, March 5, 2006

Shiteholes and shoeboxes

by Suw on March 5, 2006

The first weekend of house-hunting is over, with no success. That in itself is no surprise – I would have felt a bit suspicious if the first place we'd looked at had been wonderful. Instead, the first place we looked at was in a really shitty neighbourhood. Everyone had said 'Oh, bits of Hoxton are nice', but the flat turned out not to be in Hoxton, or even Old Street, but was in Shoreditch and not a particularly nice bit either. Neither of us thought we would feel safe walking home from the tube late at night on our own, and that didn't predispose us well to the flat. Inside, however, was equally shoddy as outside. It had not been well looked after, and neither T'Other nor I saw any real potential for it.
The second place was supposedly a one bedroom flat in Notting Hill. Nice area. In fact, you couldn't get more diametrically opposed to where we had been that morning. Lovely houses, lovely streets, clean, cherry trees, good area. Sadly, the place wasn't a one bedroom flat, it was a studio. The landlord had said that whilst there was a single bed in there now, he had a double one to replace it if we wanted. Erm. Yes. There was no real space for a double where the single was and, because it was a small studio flat, we would have been on top of one another all the time. Don't get me wrong, that's fun under specific circumstances, but, well, not when you're trying to get things done.
Third place was not in a bad area, but not a great one either. Sadly, the ad hadn't mentioned that it was a basement flat. T'Other and I have both had bad experiences of basement flats and this one showed some signs of the damp I would expect. Double glazing was great, but that was pretty much all there was to commend this place. Oh, and it was very spacious. But the kitchen was horrible, the carpet direly in need of ripping up and throwing away, and the bathroom was entirely uninspiring. On balance, I don't think we would have really liked it there – too dismal and dark, even with its own private patio out back.
Today's first appointment was cancelled by the landlord who's obviously shown it yesterday and it had been snapped up. Damn. I had had a feeling that it might have been a nice place, but now we'll never know. And today's second place was also deeply uninspiring. On a not so great road, above a parade of shops which included a kinky lingerie place, a kebab shop and other tatty miscellaneous establishments. The flat itself was in better condition – reasonable laminate floors, clean paintwork, good double glazing on the front and reasonably good condition sash windows at the back. Tiny kitchen was ok, and the bathroom was ok, but there was precisely no storage. Where would one put the hoover? The ironing board? Mops and brooms? I am not the world's most tidy person, (neither is T'Other), so I need to be able to put stuff away otherwise the whole place would descend in to chaos. So that was out.
Next window of opportunity to look at places is really next weekend. T'Other's got a really full-on week with work, so I don't think we'll get to look at places in the evening. We both agree that we need to find a place that will support the way that we like to live. By that, I don't mean that it should have a spa, gym, swimming pool, sun terrace and night porter… although that would be nice. More it's that we like to cook together, so a kitchen that can't fit two people in isn't a go-er. We also don't have much in the way of furniture, so a part-furnished place isn't so useful for us. It's that sort of practical consideration that shapes what we're looking for, and our budget which limits what we can afford. Thus the search goes on…
Please keep your fingers crossed for us. And if you know of any nicely appointed flats in London that aren't horrifically expensive, please let me know.

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