For those relocating to London, I’m continuing to share my personal journal on first moving to London in 2008 (see the previous posts starting from here). These entries were actually written after my first month living here, but retroactively cover what those initial few weeks were like…and while not the most chronological of records, I’m trying to keep it consistent by topic. My first posts kicked off with my relatively lazier days staying in short-term accommodation in London. By “lazier days,” however, I don’t think I’m giving myself due credit, because without the assistance of a London relocation agent, a significant chunk of the first weeks was spent hitting the pavement to view London apartments all on my own. It can easily take that long when you’re unfamiliar with London, its neighborhoods, and its lettings agencies…so in all honesty, it took me nearly two weeks to see the number of London apartments London Relocation can show in one day:

 

23.10.08 [continued]

Just waiting for the British Gas repairman to return from the shops with what will hopefully be the solution to our towel rack/radiator issue. It is so freaking cold in here in the meantime…I’ve started to get fit again with all this city walking, with walking to and fro London real estate offices and properties a dominant activity that first week and a half. Thanks to all of those numerous lettings agencies for playing a role in the process of looking for and, yes, finding a home. After viewing 23 flats, #23 was, in fact, the charm. It was so close to being #22, but we finally saw past that one’s balcony to fully see the traffic, the lesser storage space, the smaller bathroom, the crappier entryway, the questionable furniture. Our abode now, on the other hand, is off a side street. It has a lovely entry with well-preserved period banister and fixtures (moldings, etc., even in the unit). It has a huge bathroom on a lower level that I guess used to be the kitchen, and the kitchen, now off the main room, is newly refurbished—I find it so interesting that they place washing machines in the kitchens. Suppose it makes great sense, doesn’t it, when there isn’t a  special room or closet for such. Much better than hauling crap down to a communal facility. No balcony, but access to a communal garden on the next block. Our boxes are supposedly in transit on the sea and will arrive by the first week of November. Meh. In any case, it is definitely pleasant to now have a place to call home, and I am nesting 🙂 .

I won’t lie. There were some doozies among all the lettings agents I worked with. One in particular twice took me into a flat in which the tenant wasn’t expecting us—when one woman opened the door in her bathrobe, the first thing the guy thought to say to her was, “Nice legs.” Umm…You don’t really know quite what you’re getting into when you set foot inside one of those estate offices. My uneducated search simply began at the first one I saw down the street from the hotel, and I just hopped along from there. Some have integrity and represent only quality flats, others just scramble with what they can get and will say whatever they must to get you to sign the lease so they can get paid—they don’t necessarily care about you, because you are not the one paying them (except in administrative fees); the landlord is. So they’ll be nice to you until you’ve signed on the dotted line and transferred all your money; whether they’ll have your back after that remains to be seen.

That’s what distinguishes the London relocation agent from the lettings agent. In addition to sifting out the good from the bad agents and properties, our promise & guarantee states,

“YOU come first until you’re happily settled in your new home. We stand by you. We care.”

To read more about making the relocation versus lettings agent decision, please read my posts, “London: Relocation 2” (guest post at Lotus Events’s website, our recent client!) and “Top 5 Reasons to Use a London Relocation Agent Vs. Doing it on Your Own.”