Expat Life

Finding A Place To Live In London

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. But less time 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 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 in this area. 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 in Notting Hill because it just looks so fun and unconventional, completely different from the posh vibe of both Chiswick and South Kensington. Even the buildings are colorful and quirky in Notting Hill! We were exploring there on a Saturday and accidentally ran into one of the biggest street markets I’ve ever seen.

Finding A Place To Live In London

Finding A Place To Live In London

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 dealing with a long commute for three years now and deserves a break. So sadly, Notting Hill is out, unless Cory’s employer 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 popular 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 in London is that no matter where you are in the city, you’re never very far from something beautiful or amazing!

Finding A Place To Live In London Finding A Place To Live In London

Speaking of beautiful, the first picture there is of Turnham Green Church a couple blocks from our temporary flat. It’s an unexpectedly lovely 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.

And as for amazing, 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!

Finding A Place To Live In London

With all the traveling around the city looking for a place to live, I have to say my favorite thing about London so far 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 somehow I’ve pretty much got it down already. (We won’t talk about how I got motion sickness my first time on the tube and had to get off two stops after I got on, though.) 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.

Here I am getting off track talking about landmarks and the tube when I have news. We have decided where we want to live! After factoring in our budget, the location of Cory’s job, and close proximity to 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 its 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.

Finding A Place To Live In London

Finding A Place To Live In London

I’m fairly sure that the reason we chose the place we did on Monday was because of its 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 favorite peaceful 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!

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  • Reply
    Stacie Stamper
    June 8, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    I am loving all of these photos, really feel like we are experiencing it with you all. Can’t wait to see your new place!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2013 at 2:39 AM

    Londong is looking so nice and clean from your pictures :)

  • Reply
    June 8, 2013 at 3:24 AM

    Yay for finding a place so quickly! I cannot wait to see pics of the flat…and am so glad that you were able to find a place with a terrace where you can spend some time outside-I think you would have really missed having that at your home if you didn’t have it. Moving from the country to the city is quite the change-I don’t know if I could do it as seamlessly as you are making it seem!

  • Reply
    Jessica McCoy
    June 8, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    Oh I just love that rooftop view!! Major plus! London is one of my top places to visit one day because it seems that EVERYTHING is interesting. I wonder if it’s as amazing to the people that live there every day?

  • Reply
    June 8, 2013 at 5:29 AM

    I love it!! I want to come!!

  • Reply
    Anna Catherine
    June 8, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    Glad you are getting some decisions made! So how does school work over there? And what does it mean to go to an American school? How do English and American schools differ? And I noticed you mentioned lunch with friends, two weeks in and already have lunch dates, that’s major success in my book. Can’t wait to read more! Love, love, love that terrace! And, I also need an update on the farm house and if it has sold.

  • Reply
    Connie Weiss
    June 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Don’t you worry about the length of your posts. I could read this all day!! The pictures are just wonderful and I can’t wait to see the place you picked out.

    So when does Lexie start school?

  • Reply
    June 8, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    don’t know how I missed your last couple of posts, had to go back and catch up! Sounds like you had a great flight over and so far things seem to be going smoothly. The pix are fab, your temporary place looks comfortable, can’t wait to see pix of your new digs when you get settled in. Girl, you’re gonna have so much fun, I’m so jealous! A good friend of mine is going to Ireland, London, and then spending a week in an apt in Paris in the fall. Wish it was me!!

    Have fun, be careful, looking forward to seeing more of your adventures!

  • Reply
    Mrs. Match
    June 9, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Oooh rooftop terrace! That view is amazing. I could see going up there to read, or have coffee (tea and crumpets? hehe) in the mornings. I can’t wait to see the place you’ve picked. I think you’re smart not to go with a big bustling city. Those are for visiting, and it’ll be nice to come home to Chiswick.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Wow, that view is stunning! I can’t wait to hear more, but for now I am glad you’ll soon be settled in and have so many interesting places to visit. I would love to hear all about Lexie’s experience at her new school and the differences vs. schools in the states.

  • Reply
    Diana Bockus
    June 11, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Congrats on your find! The view is amazing – it’ll be nice to just have a place for an escape! It’s great hearing and learning about what England has to offer! I can’t wait to read more on your adventures!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    That rooftop view is stunning! Loving following along on your journey having gone through it almost a year ago. I am familiar with Chiswick (thrilled to be saying this since I thought I would never know any areas of London ~ it is all sinking in) My son has a school friend who lives there. It is lovely and I am sure you will love it.

    Wishing you all the best.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    Yea!! So glad you found a place! Seriously so lucky that you had time to live there even if just for a couple of weeks to really check out areas first. All of our moves usually involve just searching online and then spending one weekend finding a place.

    That rooftop view is beautiful!

  • Reply
    Ashlee - I'll Love You Forever
    June 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    London is so beautiful! I am glad that you have been posting about it so we can keep up with how you guys are doing. I love all of the pictures. I am so glad you guys found a place to live. The view from the rooftop is amazing! xoxo

  • Reply
    Purposely at Home
    June 13, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    wow! london looks like an incredible and exciting city. :) i hope you all are settling into your new life nicely. <3

    we were in paducah, kentucky. xo

  • Reply
    Abby Rockwood
    June 13, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    I stumbled upon your blog a couple of weeks ago and I look forward to reading about your time in London:) It is such an awesome city! I dream about living there someday….

  • Reply
    June 14, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    I went to South Kensington area yesterday for the first time for a yoga class! Wow! It is gorgeous there. I really loved the feel of the area but imagine it is quite costly. It is a good thing I did not know about it at all when we were house hunting. I can’t imagine why my husband and the agent never told me about it…ha!ha!

  • Reply
    Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    June 15, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    Beautiful photos! I would love to live somewhere where I could walk everywhere. sigh.

  • Reply
    Janette Johanson
    June 18, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Is the weather always just beautiful!? Seems like it from the pictures!! I actually commented on here last week and left this nice long comment about the pictures and being able to say you were on Abbey Road and then I published and the damn thing erased everything and made me sign in!? I can’t tell if i’m still a no reply but you know where you can find me. I’ve lost that link you gave me before– but I love your pictures and even if you only have your iphone, they are still great!!

  • Reply
    Autumn @ The Spirited Violet
    July 11, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Y’all need a TV show for this experience! That would be hard to choose between living close to an American school or having a budget. We are cheap so we’d probably chose further away too.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    That is so great you guys have settled on a place to live! I can’t wait to see pictures and once all of your things arrive, all of your personal touches too :)

    Look at how busy the sky was right before that last picture!

    I am enjoying walking through London with you, I am going to learn more about this place through you than I ever could reading brochures!!

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