Apparently when you die your whole life flashes before you. Well, that’s how I feel about lock down. It’s been this surreal blur so far – which is culminating in a “location shift.”
I say “location shift” when I actually mean “panicked relocation.”
The problem is – while my boyfriend and I love living in Highgate, which is sincerely almost magical… the cost of rent isn’t.
Especially considering what is available.
And so, we handed in our notice with the current landlord (without having somewhere else to go), broke out in a cold sweat and have been that way ever since. We started looking for somewhere to move to in Tunbridge Wells thinking “how hard could it be?” – but that was a month ago.
An executive decision was made to drive down to Tunbridge Wells, book lots of viewings into one single weekend and then we would pick something. That was the plan anyway. But one of these flats was a building site with wires hanging down from the ceiling and vague promises for it to all be ready for our move in date, one was ridiculously small – so much so we had no idea how we would get a single box through up the slender staircase… but the third place?
The third place was perfect. The goldilocks flat. It had exposed beams, a smeg cooker and an original wood burning stove! Do you have any idea how rare an original wood burning stove is? It’s like a tenancy unicorn. A renters myth.
It doesnt work – but the fact is it’s there.
It was described in the brochure as “A charming split level two double bedroom period property available right in the centre of the Tunbridge village area!” and for once… it wasn’t a bare faced lie. Located on a cobbled street surrounded by cottages and a hodge podge of cute little houses right out of an M&S ad. Literally, they filmed one in that exact location about 15 years ago. And it was ours for less rent than we currently pay for a central London flat despite all these fabulous quirky features. And a pub three doors down.
So (naturally) we offered right on the spot.
The crazed look in our eye must have scared the estate agent because she told us that she had more viewings coming that afternoon so she couldnt just give us dibs on the spot.
We explained that she didn’t seem to understand. We needed this flat. It was exactly what we were looking for. To sweeten the deal, we even said those fateful words “We can move in on the first of June!” Which was in two weeks time exactly. She blinked those gigantic feathery lashes at us, readjusted her beehive (the hairdo not the insect collective) and said that this might change matters. After a few phone calls we were informed that the landlord would be happy to go ahead with our application.
And so it began. The crazed filling or forms, the requests for back ups on back ups of personal information, the passport scans, the credit checks. I turned to Mr Maybe half way through a particularly girthy one hundred and twenty page document we had to co-sign and said “Wait, are we buying this place or renting it?”
But it didnt matter. The game was afoot people. The clock? She was ticking.
If the had asked me to pee into a cup I may actually have done it at this point simply to have somewhere to live in two weeks. Not to mention somewhere so very out of the pages of Harry Potter.
And so that brings me to today. Bleary eyed on a Saturday morning surrounded by unpacked boxes, brown tape and empty beetroot juice cartons (I have a problem, leave me alone). We have exactly THREE DAYS to pack up our flat and bring all the other stuff we have in storage and take it to this new and exciting location of Tunbridge Wells.
There may be a pace issue.
I may cry at some point.
There will definitely be delirium, because I am getting my COVID-19 vaccine (1 of 2) today.
There will most certainly be depression – because I genuinely don’t want to leave Highgate.
BUT… it is happening.