Thursday, 26 August 2010

Moving on..

I like the word GENTRIFY. I was sorely tempted to use it in the title of this post, but I thought it might be giving too much away too soon. Let me start by offering my apologies to you guys for having been uncharacteristically silent on this blog for a while now. There is a good reason for this however, and it is this: I've been in the process of finding a new place to live. And finally this weekend, I am giving up my flat in London for a place in suburban Essex, a place that was once a little village, but which has now been swallowed up by the conurbation that is Greater London. But by gosh, what a difference 20 miles makes!

Okay, the new place is exactly that, New! Its a newly built development, very modern on the inside with an attempt on the outside to ape the traditional English look, mock Tudor and all. Those who know me will agree that I've often whined about the fact that for the last five years I've lived in a flat, without a garden, indeed one with no outdoor space at all. And guess what, I'm moving into a new place, which is not only a flat, its a smaller flat than the one I'm leaving behind, also with no outdoor space and no garden! Worse still, the ground surrounding the building is completely concreted over. But it is located in a very lovely area indeed..

It has not been easy for me to justify the cost of living in the crowded, grotty, noisy, unfriendly part of inner-London that I have called home for many years now. I had a spell in leafy Surrey some years ago, but that was the accommodation provided for the staff of a hospital that was my then employer, under which auspices I lived the life of suburbia without actually meriting it. It was at this hospital that I did my moonlighting, while studying during the day. Now I am making the move to the suburbs under my own steam and it turns out its not the financial nightmare that I thought it would be, (although I still have to factor-in travel costs, since henceforth commuting will become a part of daily life), but I still do think that I'm getting value for money.

Property in inner-London is outrageously expensive. The property market here is attractive to people from all over the world, hence ordinary men and women like us find that we are having to compete with Sheikhs from the Gulf States for the same property. The nosedive in value of the UK's Pound Sterling brought on by the recession has not helped either, because suddenly London property is even more attractive to foreign property investors than before.

Okay, I know this seems a bit exaggerated, but when the Sheikhs and Russian oligarchs buy up all of the very expensive houses, the not so rich then compete for the not very expensive ones. Then those like us who are on the lower rungs must be content with what property remains, but there are millions of us. So what we have is overcrowding, astronomical property prices and exorbitant rents! But then, there is always the option of moving further out of London. And having carefully considered it, living in inner-London for me is really not worth all that cash I've been throwing at it.

So I've taken this option and I'll be moving over the next few days. It might be a while before I get the internet connected, so I'll likely be scarce around here. But don't worry about me, because I'll be busy taking in the fresh air and enjoying my new surroundings, the plush carpets and the recessed lighting throughout the flat, which I admit was the clincher for me. I said its a smaller flat than the one I currently live in, but small has its advantages too. Firstly, its easier to keep clean and there aren't too many nooks and crannies for things to get lost in..

My experience of moving house is that you never realise just how much stuff you own until you are moving house and have to pack your stuff. The prospect of packing my stuff together has been so scary that I've avoided doing it until now that there's no more time left. Fortunately, my nephew has offered to come and help me out, but its a bank holiday weekend this, and he has insisted that he must go out on Friday night and Saturday night as well. So he'll probably be so hungover on Sunday that he won't be of that much help to me in the end. I really should be getting on with it..


Akin said...

Hello Anengiyefa,

Wishing you a stress-free move and the very best of Suburbia.


AfroGay said...

Moving to the suburbs? It's called 'growing up.' You have now likely joined or are about to join the middle aged set.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Akin,

Thanks for your kind wishes. However, much as I wish it was, I cannot envisage circumstances in which moving house can ever be stress-free.

Hello AfroGay,

Now you've mentioned it, I'm going to have to say something I've been dreading to have to admit..

Yes,I can see middle-aged written all across my waistline lol.

Savvy said...

Here, there and everywhere. What's is it with housing?! I actually think it's worse here in Lagos. Insane, I must say...

C'est moi said...

Just reading this Anengiyefa,Congrats!!

Hope the move went well? You must invite us for the house-warming o! :)

And you know,you are right & not exaggerating...ordinary Londoners are being priced out of the housing market by the "petro" dollars from the Middle East,the Yeltsinian Oligarchs from former USSR,the "nouvea riche" billionaires from Hong Kong, Singapore & China..& of course let's not forget too the ill-gotten wealth from African leaders & govt officials & their cronies..

Seriously though,the London property market is just ridiculously over-hyped & over-inflated in my opinion. Tale of 2 friends of mine: 1 recently bought a two-bed flat in South London for 200K and for EXACTLY the same amount,another bought a FOUR bedroom HOUSE in Kent!!!

I was like, what the *$%# ?? lol

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Savvy,

Having to move house must rank as one of the most stressful events one has to go through. Thankfully, by the time of writing this response to your comment, I've emerged unscathed from the other end of the tunnel. Once again, thanks for visiting.

Hi C'est Moi,

Would you live in a 2 bedroom flat in crowded Lambeth or Southwark if with the same money you could live in a 4 bedroom house in Dartford, Orpington, Chislehurst or Sevenoaks? I know which I would choose.

The quality of life is so much better outside London, with better access to exactly the same standard of facilities as in London. And there's more warmth from the neighbours and friendliness too..

CodLiverOil said...

Congratulations with your move.

I remember when I went to live in Cardiff ,Bradford, (due to studies), and finally Ipswich (due to work). They are so much more pleasant than London. The people are 100% more good natured and mannered. When you leave London, you get a better impression of the "Brits".

I was never so keen on London, partly because I was born and grew up there. It never had that attraction to me. I do like the underground though, how it links all the suburbs and the mix of people that use it.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello CodLiverOil,

Yes, London is a melting pot of different peoples and cultures like nowhere else on Earth. Its quite possible while sitting in a London bus to have the person in front of you speaking into her phone in Cantonese, whereas the couple across from you are chatting away in the Ghanaian language Twi, while someone in the far rear of the bus is shouting loudly in Congolese Lingala...and then the bus driver comes on the tannoy to announce to the passengers in a thick Afghani accent that the destination of the bus has now changed.. and all of this is just normal and nobody bats an eyelid.

There aren't many places in the world where you can find a Turkish, Ethiopian, Chinese and French restaurant all on the same street, and all over town too. So in that sense London is a wonderful place to live. However, I do think that the people need to work on their friendliness to visitors a bit. I find Londoners unnecessarily cold and aloof. Its as if they take the city's diversity for granted. This may explain why in less culturally diverse places, the locals show more appreciation towards visitors and strangers..