Tuesday 1 December 2009

What have we been doing?

It's rather difficult to explain what we have been doing, but it's very relevant to our RTW travel plans, so I will have to try. We have been buying a house in London.

In September, we went to London and settled down in the flat of a friend who was away for a month. He has a nice, central location in Bloomsbury, as near everything as you can get in London. But we weren't really there for the attractions of London. We immediately started going round agencies and looking at as many houses as possible. We established that in Bloomsbury we can afford a studio flat, and in Camden, which we would have quite liked, we can afford a one-bedroom flat. Moving further afield, out into transport zone 3, there are many areas where we can afford two-bedroom flats. We must have seen over 40 places in a week. Most of them had plenty wrong with them. We even toyed with the idea of (somehow) increasing our budget and looked at more expensive places, but they all had something wrong with them as well. After ten days we had so had enough of looking at houses, but I suppose we should be grateful that there are so many houses to look at in London.

Eventually, we discovered Stratford, in London's East End. Stratford is just in zone 3, but it is, shall we way, under-developed. And under-priced. At least we hope so. In Stratford, we can afford a (tiny) three-bedroom house all to ourselves. Three bedrooms is good for us, because it allows us an office room. We saw a few houses, most of which needed a lot of work, and then suddenly, we found the perfect house. It was all done up just how we would have done it, but with a bit of potential for additions if we feel inclined. It needs nothing done. It has a wonderful little garden and it's in a lovely street with a public garden opposite. At the moment it's a bit far from transport, but a new station is opening right at the end of the street in about a year. What can I say? We bought it. At least we are buying it, and hopefully it will be ours on Monday!

And what has this to do with the RTW travel plans? Having a place in London has always been a dream of ours, and now we've got one, we're going to want to live in it, right? Well..., maybe in a couple of years. In the meantime, its role is to contribute to financing our wanderings by getting itself rented out. Consequently, we are not out of the woods. On Sunday I begin another long drive up through the continent with a car full of miscellaneous stuff. I have to get into the house, start making sure it has the maintenance it needs, the furniture it needs, the inspections it needs, and an agent to take care of it for us. I rather suspect this trip is going to be a bit of a pain, but it must be done. I'm on my own, because my two are currently doing their Annual Thanksgiving Tour of the east coast family in the US. They'll be joining me about a week and a half after I arrive. We'll obviously spend most of Christmas at the new house while we're at it, so we get a bit more of London. I'll try to write more about London soon.

Is this house-in-London business a good idea? Well, I hope so, obviously. It has some major advantages: we now have a house in London, and a nice one at that; it sure won't be easy for us to spend our savings now that they're in the form of bricks, and that's good too. Still, those are not travel-related advantages, and I know that many who travel find their homes and possessions to be more of a liability than anything. I am hoping that this house will more or less take care of itself, and make some money for us, but we shall have to see.