Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cell Phones and Home Search in London

Everything is expensive in London...well, it becomes more reasonable if you don't calculate the conversion from pounds to dollars.  The amount of pounds that is charged is pretty reasonable.  An example is a caramel macchiato at Starbucks was a little over 4 pounds which sounds reasonable.  Once you start converting, it actually costs almost 7 dollars.  Yikes!  I need to learn how to stop converting in my head.

Oh my goodness cell phone usage (data, minutes, texts) is so cheap!  We paid 20 pounds for a sim card that included 2 gb of data, 4,000 texts, and 3,000 minutes for a month with no contract.  You just unlock your phone, pop in the sim card, and your phone is working with a UK number.  It was insane!  Bye-bye, AT&T!

House hunting was fun and overwhelming and exciting and tiring.  We started with a real estate agent first thing Thursday morning and we looked at 14 houses then we looked at 6 more houses on Friday.  Once we found our house (fingers crossed), we cancelled a showing.  The houses have the same layout over and over again.  The differences are whether you have a reception room or a double reception room, space in the kitchen, how tall are the ceilings, how updated is the bathroom, the size of the bathroom, and how many bedrooms did they squeeze into the house?  By the end of the day on Thursday, we were saying, wow these bedroom are a great size (which means maybe close to normal size bedroom in the states).

We pull up to the first house which is directly behind the high street.  Our real estate warns us that most Americans freak out at the size of the house so she'll go in with us to start helping us process what is available within our budget.  We walked into the first house and I felt like I was Alice from Alice in Wonderland entering a tiny house.  You try to prepare yourself for small but I was focused on the size of the rooms not the elements in the room.  I didn't think about the small fireplaces or the small shelves or the really narrow stairs.  It is all miniature!  Of course it makes sense but I just didn't think about it.

You can see the miniature fireplace!  It come up to my neck so that I look down onto the mantle.

The stairs are so narrow and not very deep.  You have to walk on your tip toes because your whole foot won't fit on them!

The kitchens are long and narrow for the most part.  This was one of the largest kitchens we saw.  The pictures was taken from the back of the house and you can see out the front window.

The looking at houses in London was interesting as both your real estate agent and the letting agent are with you as you view the house.  The letting agent meets you at the house to unlock the door and sells you all the great things about the house.  You walk through the house and have to be very thoughtful on how you react, what you say, and what you don't say.  I was constantly looking at our agent to make sure I didn't say anything inappropriate!  The best thing to say about every house is that its lovely, then you move to the next.  You also view several properties from one letting company so you follow each other from one property to the next.  The streets in Chiswick are narrow and scary too!

It was so much fun house hunting in London and we love our new house!  We are still filling out paperwork to get approval from the landlord that they will accept us as tenants.  Ironically, our land lords are American!  Wish us luck!