As of an hour ago, we’ve been living in London for two full weeks. It doesn’t quite feel like home yet, but I’ve moved often enough to know that nowhere feels like home immediately. These things take time. Less if you truly love where you’re living, and we do.
We have done a lot of exploring over the past two weeks with the intention of finding a permanent place to live in London for the next three years. Prior to the move, we read online about the different boroughs (areas in the city) and what they each had to offer, so we already had a few key places in mind that we wanted to check out.
Chiswick was first on the list since that is the town where Cory will be working. Exploring this area was simple since it’s where we are temporarily living right now. Next up was the area of South Kensington. While looking online, I fell in love with the beautiful architecture and quaint flats. Plus, you can’t beat the location – multiple museums, Hyde Park, and Buckingham Palace are all within walking distance. But when we couldn’t find a school with openings for Lexie, we had to cross that one off the list. (But I’ll be going back to take pictures later, for sure!)
The third area I wanted to check out was Notting Hill. It’s a total cliche, but part of me wanted a Notting Hill address just because of the movie. The other part wanted to live there because it’s just so interesting, completely different from the posh, sort of uppity vibe of South Kensington. Notting Hill is a place for creative people. Even the buildings are colorful and quirky. We were exploring there on a Saturday and accidentally ran into one of the biggest street markets I’ve ever seen.
This is Portobello Market, a collection of over 1,000 vendors selling antiques, jewelry, food, and just about anything else you can think of. It was crazy trying to make it through the crowds, and we weren’t even trying to shop. If I ever go back, I’ll have to take a Xanax first.
The whole market thing aside, Notting Hill looks like an incredible place to live. And if it wouldn’t mean a long commute for Cory, we probably would have ended up living there, but he’s been doing the long commute deal for three years now and deserves a break. So sadly, Notting Hill is out, unless Cory’s job decides to move locations to the city center.
Our last location to check out was St. John’s Wood. This area has an enormous American community because of the American School located there. That was a big plus for us since it would mean a lot of connections and quick friendships for Lexie. But it’s also one of the most expensive places to live in London, so after thinking about our budget and what we’d want to do as far as traveling goes, we decided it wasn’t for us.
Before we left, we did quickly stop by the landmark that has made St. John’s Wood famous – Abbey Road, home of the infamous street scene on the cover of The Beatles album of the same name. We stopped to watch other people nearly get run over trying to recreate that album cover, but didn’t try ourselves (this time). The cool part about looking for a place to live is that no matter where you are in London, you’re never very far from something amazing.
The first picture there is of Turnham Green Church a couple blocks from our temporary flat. It’s an unexpectedly beautiful place on the edge of a big green area in Chiswick. I’m so grateful for these green parks – I don’t think I could live in the city without them. The second picture is a far away shot of Big Ben from Trafalgar Square. We just kind of stumbled upon it while waiting to meet some friends for lunch in the city. I had to try not to be disappointed that my first time seeing one of London’s big landmarks was completely by accident and all I had with me was my iPhone.
With all the traveling around the city looking for a place to live, I have to say my favorite thing about London is how easy it is to get around. Mostly we just walk everywhere, but if we’re going more than a half mile or so away, we take the tube. The tube was the thing that worried me most before we got here because I thought for sure I’d never be able to figure out how to use it, especially changing lines at the stations. I am the most directionally-challenged person I know, and I’ve pretty much got it down. We won’t talk about how I got motion sickness my first time on it and had to get off two stops after I got on. Lovely. We haven’t yet tried to use the bus system seeing as it looks even more complex than the tube, but we’ll get there.
But I’m getting off track here talking about landmarks and the tube. We have decided where we want to live! After factoring in our budget, the location of Cory’s job, and finding an international school that semi-follows a regular American schedule of education, we chose Chiswick. I really think it’s the right place for us, and we’ve already found a permanent flat as well. The day we spent looking for flats deserves a post all it’s own, but seeing as I don’t want to develop the same nervous eye twitch that appeared on that radically hectic day, I’ll just say that looking for homes in the US and looking for flats in London are two completely different experiences. I’m fairly confident that the reason we chose the place we did on Monday was because of the rooftop terrace. When we walked out on the rooftop of the building and could see all the way to the city center, I was able to, for a moment, escape the utter chaos of the day. It was finally quiet. I am positive this will become my peaceful thinking spot after we move in.
Sidenote: I apologize for the lengthy post. I really do intend on posting more frequently in the future so that I can keep these entries at a more reasonable length. Right now, there just aren’t many opportunities for me to sit at the computer for an hour, so I have to take advantage of it when I can and pack a lot into one post! Thank you for still reading!