Trials & Tribulations

All along, we have expected this transition from our home in the US to the UK to be a difficult process. So far, the difficulty has *exceeded* our expectations.

View of the London skyline from our hotel room

First the visa snafu (see previous posts). Once that got resolved, we could at least travel again. Last week, we headed to London on a mission to find and contract a flat (apartment, for our US readers). Fortunately, my company has a relocation service, so that at least helped give us a better starting point.

Day one of the search, and our relo service guy, Tom, had seven properties for us to look at. And actually, most were nice and could be workable. We decided the first one we looked at was best, and decided to place an offer – at the asking price. Soon afterward, the landlord said they accepted, we paid the deposit, and all was done.

Except it wasn’t.

We cancelled all the viewings on Day two, assuming we were done. We had made an appointment to see the apartment again, to refresh our memory and start thinking about how we’d make it ours. Just before the appointment, the relo person called. There might be a complication. Actually, a big one. The landlord had received another offer at a higher price, and decided to accept it (although we had already put down a deposit). So, our apartment was gone.

But…there were two other units available in the same building, and the agent kindly showed us. Both were nice and workable, albeit at a higher price. We ended the day considering whether to go with one of those or one of the others we previously looked at on Day One.

Next morning we made an offer – for the asking price again – on one of the two alternatives in the same building as the first. Landlord seemed receptive. So, progress?

Not exactly. After we sent the offer — full asking price — they later responded that since the flat had just gone on the market… maybe they should wait for other… better… offers. When we countered by offering a bit more money, they waffled on the “pets accepted” part, and proceeded to put in a very ridiculous “pet clause” requiring a pet deposit and pet “rent.” Our relo person told them that they were trying to push off a US version of a pet clause that is illegal to use in the UK. After hours of back and forth, and one sleepless night (in which we were envisioning being homeless with 3 kitties in the next month), we started considering how to make the other flats we saw work for us.

Then another call from the relo person. Seems that the first apartment that we originally placed an offer on was now suddenly available again (offer they accepted fell through). The landlord was again very interested in renting to us (of course, at a few hundred pounds over the original offer). So after some deliberation, we decided to regroup and settle on the original apartment we wanted.

That started the process of filling out “referencing forms.” Online forms. Confusing, convoluted online forms. Forms that had parts that didn’t fit our situation, and other functions that plain didn’t work. Finally, after a weekend of struggling, we got through all the online forms and were again making progress.

We returned to the US on Monday this week, totally exhausted but moderately hopeful we had secured an apartment. As of Wednesday night, we have almost gotten to the contract stage. Barring some unforeseen glitch (and there have been a lot of those so far), we should sign a contract tomorrow and have a flat ready for us in a few days.

Meanwhile back in the US, the company we’ve hired to sell most of our possessions started the task today of cataloguing and photographing everything in our house. No small task, given we have 44+ years of accumulated things to go through. To do this, they basically relocate everything in the house to take photos. Consequently, the home we’ve always kept neat and tidy now looks a bit like a hurricane has struck the interior. Probably another two or three days to go. Very nice people doing this. But still a stressful, emotional experience as virtually all the possessions have some kind of memories attached.

Some of our belongings…sorted, grouped, catalogued and priced for sale.

At least – maybe – we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. There are still several hectic and stressed-out weeks ahead as we close on the house, sell all our stuff and two cars, make arrangements for transporting 3 kitties and probably a thousand other details yet to be encountered.

I’m counting on a day – hopefully in the not too distant future – when we’ll look back on all this and say, “yes, it was worth it.” And if all goes really well, we’ll both have some shreds of sanity left when that day comes. We hope our kitties will also come through this ordeal unscathed and again happy in our new home.

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company. UPDATE 2023... After 4-1/2 years in Tokyo, we returned to Atlanta. Now we are heading to London for a three year job assignment!

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