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..