Sorry for the delay in posting, folks. I meant to write a really long post last night, but I totally crashed. We had quite a long day! But we have reason to be cautiously optimistic. I’ll give you the detailed blow-by-blow.
Yesterday morning we got to Balham at about 10 am for a viewing with Nigel, who is probably the most stereotypically British man we’ll ever meet. Seriously, he could star in “Waiting for God” or “Are You Bring Served?” with no problems. My favorite part was when he was driving us to the flat, and someone did an illegal U-turn in front of our car. He looked them up and down, and said “Now that was a bit naughty, wasn’t it?” It was priceless. Unfortunately the flat he showed us was a bit depressing.
After Nigel, we grabbed a bite to eat, and regrouped. We had seen a flat listed that was specifically marketed as “cat-friendly” in a very different area, so we decided to go check out the neighborhood around there to see if we wanted to pursue it. So we trekked all the way out to Leytonstone on the eastern part of the Central Line. The High Street was fairly nice, but when we called about the flat, it was already gone.
That put us at about 1:30 in the afternoon, and I really needed to drop off thank-you notes at the place where I interviewed. Unfortunately, we had a really hard time finding appropriate stationery! All the card stores had pretty cards with pretty flowers, or butterflies, or glitter on them. Not appropriate. Eventually Alex saved the day (as usual) and found some plain white notecards for me to use. So I sat at Liverpool Street Station and wrote my notes, and Alex headed back to Balham to see another place.
We met again in Balham at around 4 pm. We were starting to get a little nervous, to be honest with you. It seemed like the whole day had passed, with little accomplished. We decided to hit a few more estate agents in Balham, and then head over to Clapham to try our luck there.
We found an agent who had a promising listing. It was the top floor of an old Victorian. She told us the placed was “dated”, but we went to see it anyway. I think, 100 years ago, the building was fantastic. And I think, 100 years ago, I would have loved to live there. But when she said “dated”, she really meant “smelly, small, with an almost unservicable bathroom.” So that was a no.
We walked into one more estate agents office. The guy we talked to was really nice, and we went to see a 1-bedroom flat in Du Cane Court. The building has quite some history. From wikipedia….
“Du Cane Court is an Art Deco apartment block on Balham High Road, Balham, southLondon. A distinctive local landmark, it was opened in 1937 and, with 676 apartments, is the largest privately owned block of flats under one roof in Europe. It is so distinctive (at least from a great height in the air) that it was reputedly used as a navigational landmark by German pilots bombing London during the Second World War.“
The flat was great! It’s a little larger than we were hoping to find, and the location is the best we’ve seen. The whole thing is very art-deco, which is nice. It’s got a fairly large bedroom, a small and narrow bathroom, a small and narrow kitchen, and then a fairly large living room (they call it a reception room here in the UK). It’s got big windows, and since it’s on the 3rd floor we’ve got a nice view looking north to central London.
So now the process gets a little complicated. We have to put down a deposit to take the flat off the market, and then we make an offer to the landlord about the rent. If he accepts our offer, then we pay first month and security deposit of 6 weeks. If he doesn’t accept our offer, then we negotiate a little bit. Ultimately, if he doesn’t accept, then we get our deposit back and we start from scratch. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen!