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Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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Where I stayed
Clarence Villa

Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hello everyone!
Sorry it's been so long since my last entry, things here have been a tad hectic the last few weeks with finding a flat and settling in.
The flat hunting process was a long one full of many us and downs. Searching for a place was the first hurdle....houses here are snapped so fast. As soon as they are listed they disappear. We had problems even searching as the place we were staying at had no land line and internet access. I was able to search online at work in breaks but the problem as mentioned before is that as soon as a property is listed it gets snapped up.
I must have called at least 50 places to find they were let on the same day as advertised, the problem with working was that I wasn't able to view properties during the week and there was no way a place would be on the market long enough to make it to the weekend when  I could go view them.
While I was at work Sonia would make trips to her uncles to use the internet and try hunt for a place. She visited quite a few places with no luck.
During the weekends I would set up appointments with agents to view properties I saw a total of eight properties with no luck. It was becoming pretty obvious that the type of place available in our budget was not to the standard we were used to. I saw places with curdled milk in kitchens..places above kebab shops that stunk of fat and places that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
The flat hunting process was beginning to get me down and I was starting to panic that we wouldn't find a place in time before we had to leave the place we were staying at.
I had a call from Sonia one afternoon saying she had found a place...I knew that with the rate things get snapped up there wouldn't be time for me to go view the place. After the dumps I had seen I told Sonia just to go ahead ad put our names down. I was in the mind set f thinking I have either done the right thing agreeing to a place or had been really stupid signing an agreement for a twelve month lease on a property I hadn't even seen.
After having found a place the negotiations with the letting agent began and man that was not easy. We soon fund out that normally agents don't touch new comers to a country due to having no credit history in a country. We were told we had no credit rating despite having bank accounts opened for 6 months and having taken out credit cards for the sole purpose of getting a credit rating in this country.
The other thing that worked against us was the fact that at the time only one of us had a job. They have some stupid rule here that if a lease is in one persons name the income earner has to be earning some extortionate amount of about 40, 000 pounds a year
What worked in our favour was that the landlord was so desperate to get tenants in that he decided to take a chance on us. Initially we were asked for a 5200 deposit on the hosue.......thats pounds not dollars....which to us  seemed like a ridiculous amount...all we could see were the dollar signs racking up as we converted the price back into New Zealand Dollars....there was no way we could afford to outlay the equivalent of NZD15,000.
We spoke with Liz and Jonny and who had been through the same process as we were going through who advised us that it's pretty normal and it's a matter of biting the bullet and dealing with the initial outlay. Unfortunately advice from the agent who was letting out their place confirmed it was standard policy.
We managed to negotiate with thelLandlord and come to an agreeable price of 2900 which was what we had initially expected. After agreeing to this we officially become the newest residents of Clarence Villa.
I went on the Friday of picking up the keys to meet Sonia and May at the new place to check it out. I cant tell you how much of a relief it was when I walked in to see this property which was a million times better than the dumps I had seen.
Admittedly it is very different from the freestanding house I had back in Forrest Hill but hey this is England and I cant expect things to be the same as back home.
The house is a two and a half bedroom maisonette which means it is the middle floor apartment of a three floor semi detached house. It isn't a flash place but it suits us just fine, the bedrooms are really big and on the plus side it is only a 5 minute walk to the train station which was a huge must as we don't have a car. The half bedroom is pretty much a really small sized single room which has  now officially been turned into our storage/clothes drying room. It is big enough for a single bed however our lease says we cannot rent it out.
Moving took place the following day which could not have been more of a nightmare. It was agreed that Sonia would move the majority of her stuff from her Uncles where she had been staying and I was to move the rest of our stuff from Liz and Jonny's in Tufnell Park.
It had to be that on moving day the Tube between where we were staying and our new house was down causing absolute chaos. Jonny was a legend and managed to book a streetcar to help me move all the suitcases. We could only get it for an hour but figured that would be just enough time to move everything.
What we didn't count on was that the road between the house and the new flat would be closed and then all back roads blocked due to the heavy traffic. We ended up having to turn around as there was no way we could make it in the allocated time. Faced with the prospect of having to make 6 bus trips with all our suitcases and backpacks I was not a happy chappy.
 I had a call from Sonia saying she encountered the same problem trying to get to the flat from where she was staying.
So I did the only thing I could think of at the time and headed off to the bus stop with my back pack and bag. I got the station tp be told that busses weren't operating from that station and that I needed to go the next settlement to catch one. So I walked to Archway which although is only a 10 minute walk away it felt like a lifetime having to hike it with my 23kg back pack and all the bags I was carrying on my arms.
Two hours later I made it to the flat absolutely stuffed with no intention of going back to do it all over again with the next bag. I know this sounds like the flat is ages away from where we were staying but in all honesty its only 20 minutes away so hence the frustration of the really long trip.
By that time Sonia had managed to organise for her Uncle to be able to pick all our stuff up with a van in the evening once the traffic had stopped...man was I thankful.
Cleaning the house was a mission as it always is with any new place you move in to....previous tenants never seem to know the meaning or reasoning behind cleaning ovens toilets and bathrooms.
Its good to have our own place again and although we are settled we are still trying to get things like gas, power and phone lines sorted. It's a catch 22 you need to be home to have installations completed and with both of us now working neither of us is able to be home or entitled to have leave. But hopefully within two weeks from today we will have the net up and running....in the meantime though we are just having to make the most of stealing the neighbours wireless for the 10 minutes it comes on each evening.
Today we managed to get the sky installed however we still can't use it as due to the postal strike we don't have the card that you have to have to activate it. Unfortunately the sky guy cut his head open on our window during the installation process....I just hope he is alright.
Now I know you are thinking that sky isn't exactly a necessity but the tv channels here are so bad that you just have to get it. With freeview you get 20 channels but 15 of them are home improvement shows like property ladder and the other 5 are either news or New Zealand police 10/7 from the early 90s or the Lion Man. Now as much as I love my New Zealand TV how on earth did police 10/7 especially from over 10 years ago make it as top quality television to send overseas?
We have been really lucky with Sonia's relatives donating stuff to us for the flat. Without them we would be sitting in an empty flat buying one item at a time each payday. They have been incredible.  We practically brought half of the Argos store setting up house and again owe big thanks to Sonia's Uncle Andy and Sue for picking it all up from the store for us.
Sonia is waiting on bedroom furniture which she has on order  to arrive and I need to go pick up a desk from Andy and Sues which I brought......I have to say were becoming experts at assembling flat pack furniture.
I can officially now say that despite all the hassling from everyone about bringing my duvet over it was well worth it. I am so thankful I have it with me however the only down side is that they don't make queen beds over here and I can't by duvet covers to fit. But this isn't a particularly big issue as king covers will do just fine.
So guys that officially brings me to the end of this entry and I am happy to say that I am no longer homeless and man does it feel good!
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