Before I go into this series of blog posts, I must preface that this will not be the end-all be-all, fully comprehensive guide to London flats on which to solely rely…there are obviously a lot of factors when it comes to properties, and exceptions to every rule. I am simply going to write off the top of my head what I consider to be the initial impressions (shocks) most people seem to have once they relocate to London.
At this point, we just have to agree to leave cost concerns at the door. The property market is what it is, and we at London Relocation Ltd. unfortunately have no more control over rent prices and currency conversion rates than you do. We just have to accept this as an unfortunate reality and optimistically look to the vast opportunities London does provide us.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? SIZE. Just before you catch yourself mid-eyeroll upon seeing your first flat (especially in light of what you’re being asked to pay for it), let’s get some perspective here. You are in London. Not the sprawling landscape of America that encouraged Manifest Destiny. You are now living in a city that still has roads based on paths the ancient Romans once wore into the soil. If they appear too narrow, that is because they were originally established to accommodate horses and carriages, not your SUV. It’s a city that experienced explosive growth under Queen Victoria’s reign, resulting in the abundant terraced housing that largely characterises London residential architecture–built closely to accommodate the population back then as single family homes before being broken down further into the levels of apartments you see now.
For example, upon doing some research, I learned that the living room of my 2nd floor terrace flat was once used as a master bedroom, our master bedroom once being the 2nd bedroom, and our 2nd bedroom not intended to be a bedroom at all (which is obvious with the way we crammed a bed in there), but, rather, a dressing room of sorts. In fact, garden flats were the kitchen, ground-floor flats were the dining and morning rooms, 1st-floors were the parlor/reception rooms, and 3rd floors were the servants and/or children’s bedrooms.
Ready for some irony? The mews homes located off the alleyways behind many of these terrace homes (you may be shown one as part of your flat-hunt with us!) originally housed horses at the ground level and servants’ quarters on the 1st floor–Americans will recognise this as the “coach house” concept. The 2-story mews houses now accommodate the more affluent that can afford them, whereas the regular likes of us squeeze into the individual flats that the 5-tiered middle-to-upper class Victorian home has been cut up into, so there’s been a reversal of sorts in the social hierarchy where housing is concerned that some might find to be poetic justice.
Thinking in these terms not only justifies the sizing issue, but should also enhance your appreciation of the living history of which you are now a part.