(published in the morning, written the previous evening)
Everything went better than expected.
As I blogged before, finding an apartment in London is easy. Finding a decent apartment with someone who does not try to rip you off is practically impossible. Yet I managed it somehow, and it only took two weeks. I'm honestly rather pleased with myself. It took less than a day between finding the place online, arranging a viewing and signing the contract.
The part I am most happy about is that this is a private renter. No hassle with fucking estate agents, no triple credit personality security credentials checks before you can rent the apartment, no hidden clauses designed to maximize profit for the middle man. No, this is plain and simple: someone has an apartment they're not using and they offer it for money. Everything else is common sense, decency and good will. Estate agents are supposed to protect you against entering into an agreement with dodgy figures, help find you the cheapest deals etc. etc. But the fact that they're in the middle means that both renter and rentee have to jump through a fuckton of hoops to actually get a contract going, and even then the estate agent causes the price to go up since it will have to take a slice of the pie as well.
Of the people that do private rental I would categorize them into three groups: those that are obviously looking to profit/scam you, those that are doing private rentals in a less official way to get around tax or government regulations, and those that just don't want the hassle of estate agents and believe they can do without them. The person I am renting from now undoubtedly belongs in the third category. I think with this I finally managed to shake the estate agent trauma of last year. I've proven to myself that I don't need them.
The moving process was largely painless, thanks to the help of my chauffeuring girlfriend. I managed to get all of my stuff out of storage and cancel my contract at the same time. The Big Yellow counter person told me that was no problem at all and that they'll charge me 45GBP back to my account. If this really works out like he said then that's the easily the most comfortable contract termination I've ever had. Bonus points for Big Yellow. Next up was a quick visit to my airbnb family to pick up the last of my stuff and to let them know I was leaving early, and off we went to the new place.
The new place is brilliant. As someone might say, it "ticks all my boxes". I wanted someplace closer to nature than my previous place, and a bit more countryside-like as well. This is absolutely such a place. There's forests everywhere, hills, roads that I can't wait to cycle on, and some larger areas full of nature less than 5km away. And it's not much further from central London than my previous place, with a train station at reasonable distance.
At the same time it's quirky: the apartment is pretty much a converted garage, the shower cabin is just plonked inside the room next to the kitchen and the toilet is outside. Let me clarify: the toilet is a heated tiny room available for my use only, but I have to go outside, and walk 2 meters towards the main house to get there. It's something I find quirky and interesting at the moment, but I wonder if it'll still be funny when it's freezing winter. We'll see. I think I can live with it.
There's lots to do. I got my desk set up but I don't have a desk chair. Tomorrow I'll go around exploring the area, maybe looking for a new bicycle. Now that I've moved into my final resting place it's time I got active. Time to start living!