A fortnight in the big smoke

Today marks a fortnight since my mother dropped me at Peterborough train station with two bulging suitcases (one with a dodgy wheel I later found out) and my trusty laptop so that I could venture South to London to begin anew.

Assuming that it would take me a few weeks to find somewhere for myself and my friend Michelle to live I booked into a property that I found on Airbnb which is about twenty minutes walk to my new place of work here in Croydon. I’d heard some good things about Airbnb from friends and figuring that I couldn’t afford to live in a hotel for two weeks and I’d go stir crazy too I decided to take a risk and dropped £286 for a fortnights accommodation in someone’s spare room where I had freedom to live (semi) normally in multiple rooms, I could cook and I wouldn’t have cleaners interrupting my beauty sleep. Below are some of the photos of where I’ve been staying:


My host Francesca has a really, really, beautiful house (the few photos above that I’ve hotlinked from Airbnb’s website don’t do it justice) and she was a wonderful host during my stay. I would definately recommend anyone who is travelling has a look on the site to see what’s available and I’d even go so far as to say I don’t want to stay in a hotel again if, for a fraction of the cost, stay in an entire apartment instead of paying for an over-priced hotel.

Trying to find somewhere to live in London has been stressful and I mostly had the same shitty customer experience that I had when I was looking in Lincoln a year ago. Estate agents can be the most helpful people you’ll ever meet or they will be the most uncaring, cold and unsympathetic people you’ll ever meet. I’ve experienced both (more the latter than the former). We wanted to live in or around the Clapham Common or Balham area and London rental prices for a decent sized two bedroom apartment are upwards of £1600 per month. In the end we’ve managed to get into a brand-new-just-finished-last-week apartment near Tooting Broadway for £1450 per month. It really does pay to shop around. I’m glad I saved some money over the past few months as when we sign for the keys next weekend we’ll be dropping almost £4000 on the first months rent, deposit and agents fees.

Some photos (from Zoopla) of our new pad:


A few things I found different about renting in London verses Lincoln; first most flats in London are furnished with both white goods (fridge, washing machine, etc) and furniture whereas in Lincoln it was uncommon to find places with anything. Secondly in London you almost always will be dealing with the landlords directly after you’ve signed the tenancy agreement for any maintenance issues and the like, whereas in Lincoln (in my experience) you almost always deal with the estate agents. Also something I haven’t experienced before is having to pay for a third party to come in and do an inventory of the property before and after the tenancy, again in Lincoln the estate agents generally dealt with this as part of their service.

My new job has been working out great. My new colleagues (I’ll be featured on that page soon enough) are all lovely and have all been very welcoming. I’ve not actually written any code in the past fortnight, instead (as my Twitter followers will attest) I’ve been arguing with Chef and VMware vCloud Director. We’ve also had a couple of iteration meetings and hopefully in a few weeks once a few more bits are in place I’ll have more to write about in terms of what I’m going to be working on. It was a little strange at first having to adjust my brain into thinking about a new problem domain (as opposed to thinking about improving the staff and student experience in a university), but I’m really excited about our future plans. I also don’t have to care about users who are using a corporate desktop with IE7, this alone is bloody lovely.

I’ve a busy month ahead, next weekend I’m in Leeds at a wedding, the following weekend my parents are driving a van down to London with all of my belongings which are currently in storage (I missing my cooking stuff so much!) and the last weekend of June I’m going to be losing my Glastonbury (and music festival) virginity.