Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Living it up in the UK

"How are you adjusting to London?" she asked.

"Well, first of all, I live in Manchester-- and not even in Manchester but north of an actual city... because there's more to the UK than just London... which is in the southeast of the country... and, it's really just the same as moving anywhere... new people, new shops, new weather... oh. That is, if you've ever moved..."

That's the gist of most of the conversations that I have with folks-- friends and work people alike... in my head. Of course I'm not brave enough to say those things out loud. BUT, it is the frequent refrain inside this sometimes too active brain of mine. To most Americans (and some Londoners), there is no other city in England except London; the same, I suppose, as for some Europeans who only know NYC, LA and Chicago (based on the number of television shows-- which are 90% American, that are set there). And although I've tired of correcting the fact that I don't live in London... in fact, I live a good four hours away by car (two by train), I do believe that it's the same as moving anywhere... if you're used to moving, it's about settling in, getting to know your 'hood and developing your routine.

I'm used to living in small spaces... only not with another person; and while it's working out great, it's also because 90% of my belongings are not actually here yet... I shudder to think of what this place will look like when it all arrives... because, contrary to my previous post about buying a house, it looks like we're going to be stuck in our present surroundings for a few months.

That's because banks don't like expats on term limits (translation: work permits)... despite the 20% down payment, good income and the fact that I'm virtually the only one buying. Well, they're loss. The upside is that Mark owns the existing house... the mortgage is super cheap... and, despite the shady location and the fact that we can't park our car on the same street as the house b/c we're not sure if it will still be there in the morning... the reality is that my apartment in Chicago and NYC were probably smaller than this house (maybe...).

So, now it's on to the dilemma that every newly co-inhabiting couple faces... making all the stuff fit. Given I can't buy and in this market, Mark can't sell, we've gone to plan X and will likely be staying in this existing house, saving for the wedding and crossing our fingers that friends and family don't plan to visit because this place leaves MUCH to be desired. Making it all fit is the the only option we have, it seems... and I'd love visitors, so if you don't mind a crowded little terrace flat with no central heating (IT IS COLD), colorful neighbors (translation: drunk, loud, bottle-breaking on the street...), in the middle of nowhere, please do come for a visit... at least it will be an experience!