Monday, September 13, 2010

london :: relocation pt 1

photo via pink lemonade / found on from london with love

One of the most daunting, yet exciting, tasks related to moving is finding a new place to live. This is especially so when you consider the size of London, the cost of rent and you have a fuzzy feline moving with you.

The housing market in London, while similar to Vancouver, has it’s own unique nuances.
  • Estate Agents: The vast majority of the London rental market appears to be controlled by them. Private rentals can be found on Gumtree and Craigslist, but with websites such as those, these are no guarantees.
  • 6 week deposits: Whoooaaa, you want how much? When signing a lease, you need to pay the first months rent plus the 6 week deposit.
  • Pets: No one indicates if their flats allows pets.
To help us with our move, we have been in discussions with a relocation firm. These firms specialize in assisting people moving to London and helping them find a place to live. After some research, we discovered London Relocation Ltd and decided to hold an interview with Colleen Wagner who handles the social media for LR and blogs for London Living, to help others interested in using relocation firms or are moving overseas.

Since this is quite a lengthy list of questions, we decided to make it into a three part series.

Hope you find this helpful! Thanks to Colleen (C) for putting up with Rob's (R) many questions.


R: Tell us a bit about London Relocation
C: London Relocation Ltd. is a personalized destination service provider that assists with an otherwise arduous flat-search. Founded by Anthony Gallo, an American originally from Arizona, our entire staff is comprised of expats from the States and Australia—we therefore bring a special empathy to the table because we’ve undergone the international move ourselves and understand all too well the special challenges that come in tow with such a decision.

Finding a new home is a particularly stressful factor that can be very time-consuming, expensive, and, quite frankly, confusing in an unfamiliar property market, which just compounds the issue when one already feels displaced. London Relocation Ltd. is all about making the process quick, efficient, and, dare we hope, fun ☺

R: Tell us a bit about yourself and London Living.
C: I myself moved to London from Chicago in 2008 as an accompanying spouse. My husband had accepted a new position that brought us here; however, as he wasn’t transferring through an existing employer, we weren’t entitled to any form of expatriate support outside of a monetary moving allowance. As I consequently found the move to be a difficult, isolating transition in the months to follow leaving behind family, friends, and career (I taught high school English at home and am on hiatus for various reasons), when I started working for London Relocation, I wanted to enhance our flat-finding service with helping expats find some social footing as well.

As our London Living members do include both current and future expats, their participation has broadened the ability to field any number of questions, and it’s essentially become one-stop shopping for some of London Relocation’s own social media efforts (i.e., the information we share through our blog and Twitter) as well as London events and advice from our “Londonistas”. First implemented in January of this year, it has grown into a lovely community that has already established close friendships. I am hoping to organize a social event later this month to give Londonistas the opportunity to meet each other—we keep it casual. It doesn’t matter whether London Living members use our service or not—this initiative Is purely about camaraderie and reestablishing a support network far from home.

R: Can you provide a list of online tools for researching London?

Robert's personal favourites at the moment are:
Colleen's Additions:
Beyond my pet London Living, other good practical, interactive guides on moving to London I’ve encountered are:

Canadians & Americans in the UK
Moving 2 London
Yankee Landing

For a mix of the practical and the fun-n-quirky London goings-on, I also like: – the ultimate source for Anglophiles!
Little London Observationist

And for getting around London, the
Transport For London site is positively awesome (you can read up on the brand new cycle hire scheme here, too!)—a great way to research your commuting possibilities in advance, which in turn can help in deciding on where to live.


Stay tuned for the second part where Colleen covers basics such as finding a reputable agent and why everything is quoted pound per week.

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