A farewell to arms

I’ve moved quite a lot of stuff to Sheridan’s. I forgot just how heavy boxes of books can be. I’m not using a removals company because the big and heavy stuff (sofas, bed, table, etc) are staying here as the flat is to be let fully or partly furnished.

So I’ve been packing up the living room, notably books. Heavy things. I’m amazed how many books I’ve amassed over the 7.5 years I’ve been here. Too many actually. My whole life I’ve read. I need to read.  To do so is to open up parallel worlds into which one can escape.

But I got to thinking and I’m actually disappointed that I haven’t used a library in so very long. I don’t know any one that uses libraries. Yet I know huge numbers of people who use Amazon. Sure, owning books can be a good thing. But so often you only read them once, especially if they’re fiction. So I began thinking about how much I wish I was a member of a library. Heck, I don’t even know where my local one is. It’s certainly not ‘local’ as in, walkable.

And so I’m resolving that when I’ve moved to – touch wood – the London Borough of Westminster – I will join a library. A cursory search indicates that there are quite a few in the borough so that’s good. They even offer free wi-fi, something I hadn’t realised.

When I move to rented the flat won’t be large. It’ll be a 1-bed and undoubtedly bijou, for sure. And my goal is to live quite minimally. It’s far too easy to accumulate huge amounts of junk that you never use or need. This collecting binge is as equally apparent in the kitchen as in the wardrobe or even bathroom. Vast quantities of ‘things’ that I just don’t… need. Henceforth – living life with a kind of zen minimalism will be a priority.

This coming week I should close on arranging the tenant for my flat. There have been 2 offers made. One from a professional couple, the other from 2 young guys wanting a professional flatshare (i.e. they want me to sort a bed for the small second bedroom). Of course, that room was furnished as a bedroom aeons ago when I had a lodger – an old uni friend – but that’s not been for years. And you might think that the professional couple would be the obvious choice. But it’s not quite so cut and dried. For a start, the guys are offering more money (5% less than asking vs 10% less than asking) and they don’t have any of their own stuff so want it as fully furnished as possible. This means that all my starter flat crap items, i.e. the Ikea cutlery and crockery, the old pots and pans, etc, can all be left.

I actually have enough kitchen stuff to leave the older stuff and take the newer, higher quality items I’ve bought over the years. So this isn’t a bad thing. And more importantly – my gut tells me that they will be less fussy about problems which, history dictates, are not uncommon here. I’ve had loads of problems over the years. They has ranged from noisy  neighbours through to a flood from upstairs wrecking my ceiling, a flood in my own bathroom wrecking the flat below, etc. I just have this feeling that they’ll be slightly less OTT than the professional couple if/when problems do arise.

Of course, people have warned me that they may wreck the place, what with being young and male (although they are in professional jobs!). But this is a starter flat, not some high-end expensively decorated yuppy flat. Plus, their deposit amounts to 6 weeks rent and a fairy tight inventory process takes place before they move in. So I’m much less worried about that. Also, my friend the White Russian (who did all the work at the flat and who has made it look so great) will be available to fix any problems that arise, either during the tenancy or at the end.

So I actually don’t have huge concerns about my old flat. I have only one ultimate concern – my own exit strategy. Who moves into my old flat, at what price, what problems arise, etc, will be dealt with by the agency on my behalf. One of the few good things about having bought so long ago is that the anticipated rental yield amounts to almost double the monthly mortgage repayments. This means I should not, technically (and touching wood!) – have any real financial worries about the flat (unless it goes un-let for long periods of time). And hopefully the extra money coming in – that survives the taxman – should help offset the astronomic rent I’ll be paying in central London (though I’m not relying on it for this nor factoring it into my budgeting).

So we’ll see. Hoping for closure this week and so very excited about it. Change – at long last – is around the corner.

6 thoughts on “A farewell to arms

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  1. Books are always the bane of my existence when I move! But the gratitude I get when I put them all up on my bookshelves and realize how smart I am makes it all worth it!

  2. SOOoooo many things to say here, M.

    First off.

    How could somebody as LITERATE as you obviously are NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY WAS, and NOT BELONG TO IT?! That — quite literally — leaves me flabbergasted almost to the point of speechlessness. Are libraries in the UK under-utilized or something? I mean, I just can’t fathom this. I know SOME people here in the U S of A who don’t belong to libraries, but that’s because they don’t friggin’ READ. Plus, even a lot of people who only watch TV here belong to libraries because it’s cheaper to get a DVD out of the library than to rent it (though some libraries have started charging a nominal fee for DVDs or CDs).

    Also — you are only JUST discovering the joys of free wifi at libraries? Man, your job must keep you busy. I … simply can’t imagine not knowing that libraries offer free wifi. I hang out at libraries *A LOT*. The Boston metro area has tons, of course — every single municipality has its own — and most of them belong to a network of libraries that gives you the right to check out books from almost any library in the region, or to arrange for inter-library loans (for free).

    Now, I am a horrible, irresponsible, financially idiotic spendthrift biblioholic / bibliomaniac and I buy books like candy and own literally thousands of books piled up in every nook and cranny of my house — I wouldn’t be surprised in fact if they were even far too many for me *EVER* to read even if I were lucky enough to win the lotery and retire tomorrow, so believe me when you say “I’m amazed how many books I’ve amassed over the 7.5 years I’ve been here..” I know the feeling. Yet I checked out probably 200 books from my local library last year (did I read them all? no, of course not). I’m kind of a nut about books.

    I hang out at libraries a lot, too. I often work in a library. I am a software engineer working for a large multi-national corporation where teams are globally distributed (half of my current team is based in Dublin, and my manager is based in Kentucky), so I work at home a lot, and when I don’t work at home, I often work in a library. I know that doesn’t apply to you. Still. It just amazes me 🙂

    Kudos on seeing the light. Libraries — especially older buildings with character — are wonderful places. Though they are becoming less and less so these days, at least in this country. More and more libraries are turning into gathering places for teenagers and quasi day-care centers for school-age kids and pre-school kids with all sorts of activities, some of them very very loud, which is irritating as all get-out. Plus even if the library you’re in is not full of noisy kids, you might have to deal with colossally inconsiderate people who not only don’t silence their phones (let alone turn them off), but when they ring, don’t get embarrassed and shut them off or run outside, but actually take the call and leisurely yak on loudly. How these people’s brains work is beyond me. Nonetheless, a nice reading room with a fireplace and big comfy chairs? That’s my idea of a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

    Now. Onto a couple of other things.

    Although I was born in England of British parents and have watched a GREAT deal of imported British TV and movies my whole life, the British dialect still does amuse me sometimes. “A removals company”? Really? I’ve heard that before but it still just sounds silly to me. And “movers” is just so much easier to say :-).

    Other similar amusing locutions: “give way” instead of “yield” for traffic signs; “mind the gap” instead of “watch your step”; and my favourite (yes, I like to pretentiously adopt British spelling), “diversion” instead of “detour”. Now I grant you, “detour” is somewhat ugly (especially the way Americans pronounce it), but “diversions” are something that keep you entertained, or keep your attention away from something else, not an alternate route. That one still cracks me up.

    Lastly. This one just really fascinates me. I find it quite odd and surprising that in the UK there appears to be some sort of convention for aspiring renters to “counter offer” rent. To my knowledge, that practice is UTTERLY UNHEARD-OF in the United States. Granted, I’ve only ever lived in two parts of the country where I learned about the local rental practices. But I have never once in my life heard of a renter having the CHEEK to offer to pay anything other than whatever an apartment is listed for. (Though in tight markets I have heard of renters offering MORE in bidding wars, but that is pretty rare.)

    When you go to SELL a house, buyers will counter-offer you. But I have never heard of a potential tenant doing so. If I had a tenant say “I really like this apartment but how about I pay $nnn instead of what you are charging?” I would literally just laugh. The economy would have to be INCREDIBLY bad and there would have to be an INCREDIBLE glut of rental properties on the market for such a thing to even be POSSIBLE. And I find it hard to believe that there is such a glut in any part of London. Is this just “the done thing” in the UK? It really surprises me.

    Anyway, good luck with your do-it-yourself book-removals and rentals 🙂

  3. I love libraries but unfortunately they don’t cater too well to my chosen literary genre – trashy
    vampire novels! The libraries in the City near my office are pretty good but the ones near home arent so great. The one in the village we’re moving to can be considered useless at best, regardless of which genre you read.

    As for rent, I don’t think we paid full asking price for this place and we got over £100 PCM knocked off the one before. It seems that almost every place we viewed we were told the landlord may take an offer. I think agents
    value over to take that into account. I’m guessing 5% under is still good rent, although I have to say 10% seems pushing it a bit.

  4. Josh – yeh, I have loads of books I enjoy just looking at on the bookshelf, especially the big hardbacks / photo and reference books.

    Justin – promise me you will start a blog! I have this innate feeling you were born to blog! 🙂 Hmm, I love books but I don’t think I’m *quite* the bibliophile that you and others are. I own a couple of hundred, certainly not a figure in the thousands. I am guilty as charged, though, on the not-knowing my library front. I am set to change though! And re: rental yield – yes, it’s not fixed here and is subject to offers, like house selling too.

    Vic – at least you have scoped the local libraries which is a lot more than I’ve done. Have you read The Secret History? Not a vampire novel but I have this strong feeling you would like it (Donna Tartt).

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