First of all, hurrah!  As of yesterday, my interview on issues related to relocating to London (as well as clarification on the common relocation agent vs. lettings agent question) has started to appear on the blog as a three-part series.  So do tune in there in the event it will be useful for your own questions about moving to London.

As for the topic of today’s post, I thought I’d briefly address the local property option to rent a flat furnished versus unfurnished.  What inspires this is an upcoming event:  the One Day Interiors Sale, comprising 20 designers showing treats for the home!  If you’re already living in London, it’s 22 September from 12:00pm-7:00pm at Craft Central (map:  www.tinyurl.com/craftcentral; nearest tube: Farringdon; bus lines: 55, 243, 4).  Admission is FREE and, as contributing artist Charlene Lam (fellow American exapt in London) describes it:

“Lots of screenprinting and piles of fabric everywhere!”

Aside from that, if you’re opting to leave the bulk of your furnishings at home, be assured that it’s highly common for flats to be available partially-to-fully furnished, as so many people moving to London are in the same predicament.  Overseas movers cost enough, and if they charge by the square foot of cargo, then the easiest way to spare some change is to leave the furniture behind.  In addition, unless you have a flat procured before your move, if your future living space is unknown (as ours was), it is also difficult to know what will fit.  Not to mention that if you’re moving as a student to study abroad, you may not have much furniture to work with!

Easier said than done, though, I fully understand that.  If you’re fond of the furniture, separation anxiety might be the issue—yet if you’re only living abroad for a couple years or so, it’s manageable.  If permanently, well, then bring your stuff.  If you’re reluctant/unable to foot the storage fees, then your other two options are to 1) find family to store your furniture out of the goodness of their hearts, or 2) give it away or sell it!  As I’ve mentioned before in my packing tips for moving overseas, our living room set currently resides in our father-in-law’s house, while the other furnishings are split between his basement, my sister’s basement, and my parents’ house.  Ah, unconditional love…they shall be rewarded handsomely in due time 🙂

Either way, even renting furnished can sometimes mean needing to fill in with an extra piece or two.  In our case, we had great cabinet space and a large built-in wardrobe, yet it still wasn’t enough for everything, so we ended up purchasing a 2-dresser/wardrobe set from www.space2.com – we had to construct it ourselves (which kept the price down), but we’re happy with its quality and it’s one of those situations where we’d be more than happy to bring it back home when we repatriate for a second bedroom, or, if that proves inconvenient, are fine if we leave it as well…that’s kinda what you want to have if you’re not planning on living in London for the long-haul.  We also needed some extra seating as we planned (and indeed have!) to entertain out-of-town visitors, so we purchased a chair from Peter Jones (a large department store with a nice range of furnishings and prices) and a couple stools from IKEA (that good ol’ standy, which they luckily have here and, as you’ll see, the landlords are big fans of as well).  Also, while we didn’t purchase anything there, another store we closely investigated was Homebase, a Home Depot-equivalent for your gardening and DIY needs, but also a source of reasonably priced furniture.

And so, for what peace of mind it’s worth, if you make the sad/frustrating decision to not invite your furniture to share in your overseas adventure, the options of furnished apartment rentals and inexpensive furniture stores will hopefully help you both make your bed and lie in it :).