9 December 2014

My First 5 Weeks in London

These last 5 weeks have been completely crazy for me. It would be fair to compare them to university Freshers' in their diversity and the number of new experiences I've had. However, they've definitely not been as fun as Freshers'. I think I had quite an idealistic vision of living in London, some sort of British cross between Carrie Bradshaw's life and Rebecca Bloomwood's (from Confessions of a Shopaholic). It's definitely not been how I imagined it. At the start, going a day without getting lost was a massive achievement!

5 weeks ago (41 days to be exact), I left my family home in the quiet town of Stroud with nothing more than a very small suitcase, a handbag and a backpack full of noodles, and caught a one-way train to London. All I had planned ahead of me was a job I hadn't started and the promise of a place to stay with a couple of good friends from university. Ideally I would have liked to have found somewhere to live before moving but with such short notice from my future employer this was not an option.

(Me and Deannah at a
university hockey social)
For my first week and a half in London I stay with a friend from my old university hockey club. I'm so grateful for her letting me stay. I have no clue what I would have done otherwise - probably ended up in a massively over-priced hotel somewhere.

From the moment I found out I could finally move to London (I've been wanting to live here for a couple of years at least) I started trying to find some sort of accommodation. My friends and family suggested looking on www.spareroom.co.uk, which for anyone who's not been on there is an online advertising space for rooms.

The way it works is you browse through all the ads and email the advertiser to try to arrange a viewing. But one key detail I didn't know was that as a basic member (non-paying) you cannot contact any advertiser whose ad is less than 7 days old. After speaking to a friend who'd recently used the website to fill her old room I found out that most rooms went in the first 7 days. So at the earliest opportunity I paid for 2 weeks membership (£14.99 for a 2 week deal) hoping that would be all I needed.

From that point I was organising as many viewings as I could, travelling all over London hoping to find anywhere nice. What I did know was that the whole thing would suddenly turned into a popularity contest. It was like there was a whole new job to apply for, 'full-time flatmate'. I even had a second-round meeting/interview (how ridiculous!) which turned out to be a complete waste of time because at the last minute they offered the room to a friend anyway.

It was getting to the last couple of days of my 'early bird' membership and I still hadn't found anywhere to stay and if I'm quite honest, I was starting to get quite worried that I might never find anywhere. I organised 4 viewings for the last Saturday before my membership ended and just hoped that one of them would be The One.

I'm happy to say that viewing number 4 is where I am now living! The house is really nice, only 5 minutes walk from the tube station, 30 minutes commute to work (which is really good for London) and the people already living here are really nice. I've only really met one of them properly so far but I couldn't really be happier with this house.

So after 5 weeks of a sleeping bag, a sofa and at times even the floor I now have a bed! I've even brought my electric blanket from home so I'm feeling quite luxury.

I'd like to say a massive thank you to my brother and his girlfriend Sarah who let me stay with them for 4 weeks after having only moved into their new flat themselves. Without their generosity I'm not sure I would have stuck it out long enough to find somewhere to live. I definitely didn't realise how stressful not having your own bed would be!

I'm now getting used to working like a normal Londoner, sweating on the tube at rush hour and eating street food for lunch.

I hope this post hasn't been too boring just reading all about my life. Maybe my mistakes might just help you if you move to London or you can laugh along if you made the same ones as me!

My next post in a couple of weeks will be about the first two months of my new job and the truths of full-time employment!

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