>…to Bel-el-siiiize! [Come on, sing it with me, to this tune.] To a de-luxe apartment in Bel-siiize!
OK, OK, I’m not really *moving* to London, but I am going spend a 6-week research trip from May to June in Belsize Park, a very posh neighborhood that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford. In fact, the apartment I arranged through SabbaticalHomes.com is pretty darn pricey, too, and when I first started looking, I put it pretty low on my list as too expensive. But then I got a little windfall of money I wasn’t expecting, which made me decide that it would be really fun to pretend for six weeks that I’m the kind of person who really could afford a swank place in Belsize Park. And it’s just as well, too, because all the cheaper places that I was interested in — the ones that weren’t way out in SE23 or thereabouts — turned out not to be available for my dates. They were listed as available, but then the owners said they already had parties interested. People! Update your listings! Stop leading me on with your promises of elegant little Bloomsbury 1-bedroom apartments for relatively reasonable prices! Or they said, sorry, but they couldn’t do 6 weeks, they could only do full months. Then say so in your listing! I went through 7 possibilities before the Belsize Park person said yes, it was available for my dates and he’d be happy to rent it at the advertised price with no hidden charges. Hooray!
Thank god I don’t have to look for *permanent* housing in London (or any other insanely expensive city). I’m pretty sure I’d go mad in the process or I’d be more willing to commute from Zone 6 or something. The place I’m renting has a monthly rate that’s roughly three times the cost of our monthly mortgage (although at least the bills are included in the rent) for a 600 square foot loft studio (vs. our nearly 2000 square foot, four bedroom house with a yard and a garage). I know that sounds like madness, too, but for my purposes in the short terms, it’s pretty much within the range of the expected. Put in these terms: it’s the same per night as the Holiday Inn Express in the area charges, but I’ll get to live as if it’s my own house (because it will be for 6 weeks), spread out in a bigger space, cook for myself (thus saving on dinner especially), do my laundry in my own space, and so on. And out of curiosity, I looked at a real estate website offering apartments in the area, and the comparable ones had much higher rent, so I think I’m doing well for the area. The only way I’ve done things cheaper is to rent a student room, once at Goodenough College and once at the University of London’s College Hall. But this time I’m going to be there while it’s still term time, so those options aren’t open to me. (Well, Goodenough might have a room available, but you have to share showers. In the summer, when few people are around, it’s one thing, but I really don’t want to share a shower with a hall full of students, even if they’re mostly postgraduates. And last time I lived there, I was three floors up from the kitchen — *very* inconvenient.) If it were available to me, I’d think about College Hall again; its ensuite rooms are very nice and there’s a pantry or two with a fridge and microwave on every floor (though for 6 weeks, microwaved food might get sickening).
Anywho, the place I’m going to rent is swuh-ank! It’s sleek and modern and all recently renovated, top to bottom, with gorgeous, gleaming dark oak floors, huge French windows letting in all sorts of light, and an open-plan kitchen that’s reasonably roomy for a studio apartment. Put it this way: the minute I showed Bullock the pictures, he said, “Oh, that’s NICE!” and he has pretty demanding taste. When I will the lottery (heh), I’d love a pied-a-terre just like it. I’m not the only one, it seems: I contacted one of the previous renters and she said she wished she lived there all year round. She stayed there with her husband and child, so it should be roomy enough for just me.
I promise, though, that while I’m there I’ll work very, very hard at the BL and not sit around my flat pretending to be posh or hanging out with the celebrities who live in the area. And come visit me — I’ll give you the king size bed and I’ll sleep on the couch!