Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Home in Central London

Actual move date: 30 January, 2015

Did you know that Luke and I don't live in Wimbledon anymore? (I mentioned that a few posts ago...) Yeah, that changed almost 7 months ago! Wow, I can't believe it have been living in our new and LOVELY flat for that long.
It's quite the long story as to why we moved, so I will try to keep it as quick as possible (and we all know how that usually turns out...). Luke's office used to be in Leatherhead in Surrey. Here:
We originally chose to live Wimbledon as the area was still within the tube lines, and just about halfway between central London and Leatherhead. Here are the tube lines (Wimbledon is just slightly northwest of where Mitcham is):
Well in December 2014, his office changed to The City. And by "The City", I mean The City of London, which is one of the smallest cities in the world at about 1sq.mi. Confused? Here:
So anyway, his office is now located in that area, so we immediately began discussing the pros and cons to moving into central London. Pro: Shorter commute for Luke. Con: We would have to move everything ourselves and pay for it ourselves. (Boo hoo us right? As expats, in the past, we have been blessed with other people doing this for us.) Con: Rent would increase. Con: We will have to find a new place all on our own and pay for it all ourselves. (Boo hoo us again. We have had help in all moves previously.) Con: We will likely have a smaller place. Con: We would likely need to get rid of our current couches and buy new couches. Con: We may not have a guest bedroom so guests will have to sleep in the living room. Con: We might go thru this hassle and then be moved from London shortly after. Pro: We will be LIVING in Central London!!!!! In the end, the pros outweighed the cons, so we were moving baby!!! But that is easier said than done.

The amount of work I put in to finding us a new place was insane. I felt like I was working as a teacher again. And it was early-August, and I was setting up my classroom, and preparing for the new school year (my thoughts and prayers go out to all teachers who are going through this right now). Except take that amount of work and multiply it by like 1.5 (it would be wrong for me to say more than that because the amount of work teachers put in at the beginning of the school year makes up for any time off they get the rest of the year), and add in walking 8 miles daily and not being able to sit for more than 10 minutes at a time or go to the bathroom, and I would scarf down my lunch in about five minutes between appointments while sitting on a park bench. I felt like a hobo for a good week. Luke was quite impressed with me though because I kept up with all emails and phone calls from agents (there were about 30 total). Luke did some work too, but as he had his own work to do at the office, I took control for the most part. Oh, and this was also the time when I was trying to complete the full program of Insanity, so I would wake up at 6am, do my INSANE exercise, answer emails, get ready, eat breakfast, and leave the house by 9:30am to go walk 8 miles in the mid-January cold and rainy weather while viewing properties. Needless to say, I got ill from the stress, so I was relieved when it was all over with! I won't go into dirty details, but almost 3 weeks passed from the time we made an offer to the time we signed the lease. Us two OCD people were heading toward rock bottom for a while there... But hey, in the end we hit the jack pot!

I must give a huge warning that I have been known to go on and on about our place. I love it. It's perfect. It's amazing. Luke is constantly telling me to stop bragging, but I just can't help it. I guess it is my way of showing how lucky we are to be given this opportunity. We are trying to take advantage of a situation that we never imagined we would be in, and I think most anyone would want to do the same. So I'm not bragging about what we have, I am just showing my appreciation for this once in a lifetime experience. But let's get on with this, shall we?

Opening the door to the flat, the first thing you see to the left is a very long hallway...
The apartment is very very long. Let's go to the right first though...
Walking into the living room. It's quite the open space...
The first time I saw it, I exclaimed, "Wow!!!" NOTHING I had seen previously came even close to comparing to these first few steps I had taken while in this property.
It's quite unusual to have such an open floor plan in Europe.
Looking out the windows: To the left takes us to Tottenham Court Road which is a main street where ,while changing names a few times, a mile north runs up to Camden and a mile south runs down to Trafalgar Square. To the right takes us to the "main" street in the area, Charlotte Street. It is full of restaurants, so we never go hungry.
Across the street is one of the best tapas restaurants in London. Everyday I watch people sit outside at the little tables and drink their wine and eat Iberico Ham platters. Don't those people have jobs?!?! Oh wait, I don't have a job, maybe I should join them? Just kidding, Luke! (maybe)
It's about to be the ultimate slap in the face to anyone who lives or has lived in Europe - those vents in the picture below... that is a.i.r.c.o.n.d.i.t.i.o.n.i.n.g.
We didn't even know this place had a/c until we moved in! No one advertised it. Um, hello?! Major selling point!! So the kitchen is quite large as well.
It has a massive amount of cabinet space. In fact, after I unpacked the kitchen boxes, I discovered cabinets that hadn't even been touched and were empty. For instance, the two tiny ones at the top, I've never even opened them.
I love having a large counter as well! I missed that in Wimbledon.
I can easily hear Friends playing on the TV while I'm cooking. And if needed, I can peek around that wall of windows to see Friends on the TV without ever having to leave the kitchen. Rarely do I need to do that though. Erm, see Friends on the TV, that is. I don't live in the kitchen.
Those windows are actually doors, that seem to be an invitation for flies when open, so they usually stay closed during the day. At night, we like to open them to hear the sounds from the restaurants nearby. It can be noisy in the late afternoon and on the weekend, but it doesn't bother us too much. In fact, I love hearing that we are right in the action!
Heading to the back of the apartment, that long hallway has FIVE closets! FIVE! So rather than putting all of our junk into a second bedroom that wouldn't be able to be used as a second bedroom anyway, we have everything in these closets. They really make the whole apartment.
On the right side of the hallway across the closets is a water closet aka half bathroom. This was another aspect that was not advertised for this property. It is really nice to have a second toilet!
Looking back toward the living room area...
The ONE bedroom is very big. There is plenty of space between the end of the bed and the dresser.
If it hasn't been obvious already throughout this post or in my previous posts about our homes, we aren't interior designers.
But we pretend...
The windows off the bedroom are actually folding doors, so the whole wall opens up out to a large terrace, which is another aspect that was not advertised for the property. We have yet to get some furniture out there, so in the meantime, I have my beach chair. It gets sun (when the sun is out) around noon, so I try lay out for a tan sometimes. Obviously, today is not the day.
We are just a few blocks away from the BT Tower, so it lights up the bedroom at night when we have the curtains open.
The bathroom is HUGE and I am so glad! We have TWO sinks which is practically unheard of in an apartment in Europe. We also have a separate bath tub and shower.

Whether people said it or not, we know the first thing on everyone's mind when we told them we moved into a one bedroom apartment was "Where will the baby go?" Well, folks, there is no baby. But believe me when I say that we did think about it, and we took that into consideration. IF that time comes while we are living in London, we will not be the first people to have a baby in a one bedroom apartment, and we will not be the last. (my niece says the baby can sleep in the bath tub - yes?) Just like everything else, if other people can do it, I can do it. I will do it with a smile on face because we are getting to live in Central London!

Which brings me to my next point: We are in an AMAZING location. When doing the home search, I looked in a few areas, and I am so glad we picked this one. The area is called Fitzrovia - some people might say it is called Noho, but they are wrong. The area publishes a newspaper and magazine every couple weeks or months, and both are titled Fitzrovia, not Noho. Why would it be called Noho though? Because we are just north of Soho.
For safety reasons, I have not pinpointed our location, but we are located just about where the name "Fitzrovia" is located. Some facts about our location:
- Closest Tube Stations (in order): Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus
- Distance to Parks: Regents Park is 0.8 mile, Hyde Park is 1.4 miles
- Distance to the River: 1.2 miles
- Grocery stores within a 5 min walk: Tesco, M&S, Little Waitrose, Sainsburys, Co-Op, Planet Organic (6min)
- Distance to closest Pub: (75ft but unfortunately this one is closed for refurbishment, so...) 250ft, but the wine bar is 190ft
- Number of Pubs within a 5 min walk (according to Google): 20

Do we miss Wimbledon? Hmmm, not really.

RANDOM FACT:
Fitzrovia is located in both the City of Westminster and London Borough of Camden.

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