They say that moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life, and they were right! I thought the hard part would be finding the right property for us. We started seriously looking for a new place the end of December. Our criteria was simple and straightforward, we basically wanted somewhere that was the complete opposite of Worcester - clean, modern, and no DIY required! We sent a detailed email out to nearly twenty estate agents, most of which sent us back a load of rubbish. Finally we had one, who at the time I thought was our saviour. She sent us 6 properties, all of which were what we had been looking for and all of which were in our price range.
When it came time to see them, she became a little less helpful. We made an appointment with her to view them all (a week in advance mind you), which she then proceeded to push back a day. No big deal, we're flexible, however when it is an hour and a half before you are supposed to meet and you still don't know where you're going it starts to become a problem. I should have known then it was going to be difficult, but really we were in a Catch-22. We didn't want to work with her but she had the properties we wanted and if we didn't go through her, we wouldn't get them. That's the problem I've found with estate agents, they can treat you however they feel because at the end of the day they know that if they have the right property you're going to work with them.
In the end, we found our propety a lovely 1st floor (2nd floor my Americans) two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and lounge in the Oxley Park area of Milton Keynes. It was everything we wanted, with only one real downside, the carpets were filthy. We had it stipulated into our contract that the flat would be immaculate when we arrived, and for the carpets to be professionally cleaned. One wouldn't think when you're trying to throw money an estate agents way that they would mess you around, unfortuantely after we found our propety it didn't get any easier. We were constantly left out of the loop and messsed around, and although we'd been given a move in day of Saturday 4 February, we weren't sure of that until Thursday evening when they finally sent the contract through for review.
It was Friday morning that we were informed that while the carpets had been professionally cleaned (I believe only the day before) they had not come up well and would now have to be replaced. I should have followed my gut instinct and pushed back our move then and there, unfortunately I don't always follow my gut instinct in England as I often question if my reactions are too American for certain English sensibilities.
On Saturday morning - the deposit was paid, the contract signed, and the keys handed over and off we were to begin our moving day. Not even dirty carpets could damper our spirits, that is until we arrived at the flat to discover in fact it wasn't just the carpets that were insufficiantly cleaned it was the entire flat! The walls were covered in hand prints and scuffs, and if that bathroom has seen any cleaning products since the previous tenant left then I'm a monkey's uncle. The American side of me screamed "Sue them!", even though I've never sued a person in my life and at the end of the day it wouldn't accomplish anything.
So instead of jumping right in to unpacking - we spent the first half-hour of our move miticulously photo documenting every unclean/unsatisfactory surface in the place, while trying to ring the agents to get it sorted. Three hours after arriving, we finally heard back from the agents to be assured that the carpets are being replaced and the walls repainted, as and when that will be I'm still none the wiser.
On the plus side of things, although a bit dirty at the moment, the issues of the flat are nothing that can't be fixed by a good contractor in a day. And when we finally are completely unpacked the place will look lovely!
|Waking up to snow on our first morning in the new flat.|
I dedicate this post to my poor colleagues, who over the past month have had to put up with my ranting and cursing of estate agents.