What will the housing market be in London? So much heard about, but not sure how reliable the information was. What turned out to be true was that the prices where about four times as high as in Cologne (of course depending on the location).
Starting without any experience with the London housing market, we were lucky to receive assistance from a relocation provider as part of my employer’s relocation package. The process for finding a property looked as follows:
- First, we had to define our property criteria, i.e. weekly budget, preferred area, size, any additional requirements.
- Second, the agency was searching for properties and was accompanying us for a one day of property viewings. (Many thanks to Dawn, who supported us during our day out.) We were supposed to see 8 to 12 properties on that day. They had also organised the appointments with the property agents / landlords.
- As third step, we had to decide upon our favourites hoping that we will be accepted by the landlord.
- And finally, the agency would negotiate final price and terms for us. (Interestingly, rental contracts are negotiated in the UK based on the what was offered in the advert. Part of the negotiations are any improvements to be made by the landlord, move-in date, period of the contract, termination clauses as well as the weekly rent.)
An then, the day of the property viewings has been come on 13th December. The agency had made 13 appointments in advance and we were to meet Dawn at Arsenal station in North London.
But, gosh, there was so much to see. We visited 10 properties at the end. One was gone already, two were left out by us. The 10 properties visited varied from size, location, price and standard. It ranged from small one bedroom apartments in modern style closer to the center up to a decent sized, two bedroom apartment in a terraced house at the border to tube zone 3. So, we had gotten a good overview.
One quite special property was next to Pentonville prison, which we were able to see, when stepping out the door. As the apartment was located on the second floor, we had a great view beyond the prison walls. Also the interior was somewhat special. Traditional English style with dark wooden furniture, marble work and a red leather sofa. It was combined with modern technical equipment like a heating that could be controlled by an app. But my absolute favourite was the heating in the cupboard. Like everything else, this was properly done and the landlord has put a little sign in the cupboard reminding not to cover the heating. However, this flat was not one of our favourites.
We ended up with two favourites hard to decide upon.
One was our first property that we had visited. It was an apartment in the weststand of the old Highbury stadium, which was converted into apartments after FC Arsenal moved to the new Emirates stadium in 2006. Due two its age, it is a modern property with underfloor heating, double glazing, modern bath and kitchen. It comes with a nice communal area on the former play ground and a 24 hour concierge services. It is close to Arsenal station obviously.
The other one was an apartment in the former royal mail building at Manor Gardens, which was converted as well. The building was build from red bricks and look very British. It also provided communal areas and a concierge service, but also a gym in the basement and a wonderful atmosphere. The standard of the property was a bit lower but much more British (or a least what continental Europeans as us think is British). The downside was its bad link to the public transport but at a far better price.
Finally, we decided the Arsenal one to be the first preference and the Manor Garden one to be the second. With this decision taken, we started the negotiation process…