Life is what you make it. I recently moved from a quiet town in the country to chase my big city dreams. Nothing ever goes smoothly, nothing is ever what it seems, but everyday I am getting closer. I am yet another slightly less-than-average girl trying to find her way in London, and in life.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

1 day, 9 hours and 8 minutes: The end is nigh

Since my last, rather defeatist, blog post, I've had some good news! I have finally found the *perfect* flatshare. (That's not perfect in astertix as if to say read the fine print, that's my way of accentuating my relief at finding normal people after resigning myself to living in a freaky, overpriced squalor. Those little stars represent my tears of joy that I'm not completely fucked like I thought).

After recuperating from my last hellish experience in 'the big smoke', I grabbed the bull by the horns and headed back for another round. Undaunted by the first barrage of shit, I headed back for a second go, being the narcissistic nutter that I am. This time, I dragged my poor unsuspecting mother along, because frankly if I had to go again by myself I would have cried. Probably at every single viewing. And because I'm lazy. Seriously, trecking across West London to 10 viewings a day, just using the bus and the tube is hell. I walk a fair bit usually, but that was too much for me. So, armed with a god awful heap of shit Rover and someone who 'women driver' jokes were made for, we headed to London and weren't going to come back until I was officially not going to be homeless.

We headed down last Saturday, and ended up getting into West Kensington about 2.30pm. My first viewing was at 2pm. It was not a good start.

I'm not sure if anyone realises this, but there is a lot of traffic in London. I know, right? Seriously, the congestion charge may have helped Zone 1 (may have, I didn't venture that far so can't judge for myself), but honestly coming in over the Chiswick/Hammersmith flyover we did little over 20mph for an hour. Pair that with an inconsiderate lorry driver crashing on the motorway, and I was late. Which, as soon as I got to the address that I was given, didn't really matter as I refused to get out of the car. I know it was probably a bit hasty and you shouldn't judge a book by its cover (which I actually don't agree with, as intuition means a lot) but I insisted we move onto the next. It was your typical dodgy looking council flat, and I wasn't having any of it. 

Next up, I'd booked to meet some private landlord/agent in a house behind Turnham Green tube. After skipping the last place, I was actually early! Which is typical as the guy didn't turn up. I rang him and he said he'd assumed I wasn't coming - even though I'd text and emailed him that morning. So we waited 20 minutes for stupid (but very fit) Alex to decide to show up, and I dragged mum into view with me. It was okay, but stupidly expensive for a damp, mouldy room looking out onto a rubbish-filled garden. It's so hard to fake excitement when you really just want to leave without touching anything. 

The next one was back to Hammersmith, and after the satnav tried to get mum to run over pedestrians and go up the sidewalk, we were late again so I ran out quickly and headed up Greyhound Road. To be fair, this place was really nice - I got to meet the people who lived there for the first time so far, and the room was massive (at £900pm you'd hope so too). I was in there for a fair while and had a good chat, and left feeling a bit more optimistic about my chances. It wasn't really what I wanted, but I started to accept that it was the best I'd get. 

On Sunday, we headed back out to the next viewings, the first of which was in Notting Hill with a landlady. She wasn't there, so the housemates let us in and we waited in the living room. It was slightly peculiar in the fact that it was missing a wall. That's a lie, sorry - there were 4 walls, one was just made out of blue tarp. It was an interesting feature wall to say the least. When the landlady showed up, she led us upstairs, past the gaping hole in the roof which she failed to acknowledge. She just banged on the door and woke one girl up, who clearly had no idea I was coming round. It's really a lovely first impression to give. Bless the poor girl, she was clearly embarrassed and hadn't tidied, so I quickly stuck my head around the door of her tiny box room and left her to it. At this point, the landlady went across the hall and banged on another door, saying this was free too. Another unsuspecting girl came out smoking a fag, and had a slanging match with the landlady saying the room had already been taken and why didn't she answer or reply to her phone calls. After that, landlady still tried to persuade me to move in, telling me how great it was, how much work she was doing on the place and that I needed to snap it up quickly. I told her I'd let her know that afternoon, having already removed her number from my phone. 

The next house I was really excited about. Near Fulham Broadway, the pictures looked insaaane. And as soon as I got there, I loved it, it was like a show house. It had it's own roof terrace? It was huge and immaculate. I wanted to get down on my knees and beg them to have me. Instead I played it cool and left it a good minute after I left until texting and telling them I was interested. The only thing that I was concerned about was the other flatmates - I met one girl when I was there and the only guy, who was the person moving out. I Facebook stalked them for several hours after I left wondering why they wouldn't reply, and they send like uour typical posh girls with a sver spoon stickup their arses. Looking through their albums was like flicking through a pile of Made In Chelsea wannabes. Still, I waited patiently prayed silently all night. 

I saw a couple more after that, but nothing compared. It had ruined me. There was one tiny room in a lush flat next to Ravenscourt Park tube that I kind of had as a backup. 

When I still hadn't heard the next day from the Fulham or the backup, I started to get really depressed. I was so frustrated with searching Gumtree and SpareRoom, emailing and getting no response, or getting a reply and going to look around a complete shithole. I just wanted it to be over. I was tempted to pack it all in and go home on Monday morning. I had one viewing booked in for 6.15pm but nothing in between, and we had to be out of our Travelodge by 12. We literally sat in Cafe Nero for 4 hours, looking through papers and getting nowhere. I got so frustrated I considered renting somewhere through an estate agent and then trying to fill the rooms and advertise on Gumtree myself. I just could keep doing what I was doing much longer. 

At 6 we headed to the viewing, between Hammersmith and Notting Hill. Being as we'd waited all day, I was getting pretty nervous and just praying it was decent. As soon as we arrived mum refused to let me get out if the car. It wasn't a great first impression. For one, if was dark, and apparently there was a 'dodgy' man loitering by front of the door. To be fair, he did exclaim 'I'm emotional!' to no one in particular, and my mum is a bit of a worrier. I was tempted not to go in again, but after we'd waited all day mum said I could go, as long as she came with me. Bless. I feel a bit bad actually, mum got to see all the dodgy places and none of the nice ones...

As soon as we battled past the dodgy man, things actually started to go really well. We were greeted by 2 lovely girls who offered us a cup of tea (won mum over straight away) and they were actually normal. Hurrah! Mum left when she realised they weren't going to attack me, and I had such a lovely time. The room is huge, cheap and so, so gorgeous. It officially took over first place from pretty but posh Fulham house. 

After that, we started the 4 hour journey home. On the way, I finally got a response from Fulham saying that someone's cousin was going to have the room. I then got an email from backup small flat saying that a friends friend was having that. 

I officially hate people with friends or relatives. Honestly though, it baffles me. If you know you have a spare room, you bash out a quick post on Facebook or text a few likely takers BEFORE YOU ADVERTISE IT TO THE WORLD. Out of the 10 places I saw, 5 were filled by friends of friends or some long lost relative. Seriously, do you realise how fucking annoying that is? It just takes the piss and I hate them all. 

However, the next day, I got a lovely email from Hammersmith ladies saying they wanted to offer me the room! I can't move in until the 16th December (and I start work on the 2nd so that's a slight pickle) but I AM SO EXCITED! It's the biggest, best room with the luckiest housemates, and like half the price of the other places I saw, for some unknown reason. All in all, I want to cry I'm so relieved. I never, ever want to move house again after this, and would wholeheartedly tell everyone to avoid moving to London. It's so hard, horrible and makes you feel like shit. It was a good introduction to see if I was cut out for this type of thing, but God, I really don't know if I could do it again. 

I'm sorry this post has been so long, I honestly didn't intent it to be. I guess I have a lot of built up angst over the last few weeks. 

Anyway, cutting it fine - you don't say! But hey, better late than never, and I've always worked better under pressure. It's when you're about to have a catastrophic breakdown that you really function at your highest level - it's that added risk that, if I don't do this now, I will actually, physically die. Now that is the best motivation you'll ever get.

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