I blearily cracked open an eyelid – my proper first view of a London morning was framed by the bright red struts of a dorm room bunk bed. I was finally here, and I knew my first job was finding a flat to rent in London. Disclosure: This post was commissioned by Nestpick, who work with more than 1 million listings from 100 trusted partners to provide expats with the biggest selection of mid-to-long term furnished apartments for rent on the internet.
When I arrived in the UK 13 years ago, I had booked my (relatively expensive) temporary accommodation in a hostel on the recommendation of my Travel Agent for a couple of days of as a stop-gap, so that I could start to get my bearings in the city.
Blinking, I peeped out the window over the sleepily setting up Borough High Street. The sky was overcast with the promise of rain, but I was simply too excited to care as the realisation dawned that it was my first full day on the other side of the world. 28 hours of flying (broken with a long stopover in Singapore) had taken me away from my family, but headlong into the biggest, scarily amazing adventure I could imagine.
Rolling over, I realised that my dorm mates were beginning to stir as well. Heads began to pop up from blue duvets and limbs began to stretch as I rubbed my eyes in utter disbelief. Here I was 11,659 miles from home, and across the room from me were 3 girls I had sat exams with, in a small Auckland town; we had shared a few house parties and High School common room gossip, but over the ensuing years lethargy meant we had lost touch. Once the shock had worn off, we celebrated over cornflakes and mugs of coffee before we parted once again. They were off to Scotland on a week-long bus tour, but I set about establishing a life here in the capital.
For the next few weeks as I searched for somewhere to live, I had quite the adventure living in hostel group dorm rooms – people snoring loud enough to rattle the windows, partiers rolling in at 3am, worrying about my stuff being stolen (I was lucky nothing was pinched, though I did manage to lose a few bits and bobs), having to find alternative accommodation when the hostel was block booked out, trying to keep on top of different bookings (one night accidentally I managed to book absolutely nothing – luckily I had a friend whose couch I hopped on).. the list goes on really, as anyone who has stayed in a hostel will know well enough.
A furnished apartment like the ones that Nestpick showcases would have sounded like an absolute dream.
I spent hours on the hostel computers (that you paid for by the hour) searching website after website for somewhere to live – this was long before smartphones were a thing – and more hours pounding London pavements as I did viewing after viewing, having to compare flats and rooms in-person, not to mention getting to know areas and painstakingly working out how long my late-night commute would be.
Did I find somewhere? Well, sort of – I ended up subletting a room from a workmate which wasn’t great – it was fully furnished (a godsend for someone who moved to the UK with one 23kg suitcase) but after a few months of Landlord inactivity, we lost all water heating and pressure. Not really an ideal situation when you’re not technically on the tenancy agreement so couldn’t chase the Landlord, when you like smelling fresh and when your flatmates all had work alternatives so it wasn’t such a priority for them…
The joy of London life, huh!
Fast forward 13 years to when we only have a feline flatmate and I know exactly where to buy hangers – which was another expat confusion when settling into London…
Nestpick is the largest free to use aggregator of furnished apartments and rooms. When looking for flats to rent in London, instead of browsing each apartment website one-at-a-time, Nestpick allows its users to search multiple sources simultaneously. They kindly sponsored this post (sharing my own personal experiences as an expat in London) in order to keep our wanderlust strong and the travel fund topped up for future fun and blog posts.
London expats: how was finding a flat to rent in London for you?
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