Friends and family have been asking us, how are you settling in Aberdeen? The short answer: pretty well.
Here’s a look at how we’ve begun to start a new life in Aberdeen with the most important aspect of it all: housing
You can’t do anything in the UK without an address. And our temporary address while living in the serviced apartment didn’t count. So before we could get bank accounts, cell phone plans, buy a car, get car insurance or see a doctor, we needed an address. Our apartment hunt started as soon as we arrived in Aberdeen. The relocation company booked our appointments and took us around to visit apartments.
I want to point out that times are tough in Aberdeen given the state of the worldwide oil & gas industry. Things are not booming here so it was relatively easy to find a place. There was no exorbitant out bidding or astronomical prices that people saw just a few years ago. Fortunately for us, we had the upper hand in negotiating the rent as well as the conditions. For example, pets are typically not allowed. Yet, the apartment was sitting empty for over a year, so Sadie was welcome as well as a rent 200 less than asking!
Lessons for Apartment Hunting in Aberdeen:
- Look across multiple sites to find listings that you want to visit: rightmove.co.uk, http://www.aspc.co.uk as well as some agent specific websites like Aberdeen Property Leasing and Stonehouse Lettings.
- Furnished apartments are plentiful. More so than unfurnished apartments and houses. So if you are moving to Aberdeen and deciding whether to bring your household belongings, then don’t bring them and you’ll have a lot more to choose from.
- Don’t let pictures deceive you! This is the case anywhere I suppose. And in boom times, people sometimes have to accept apartments without seeing them first. I’m sure glad we weren’t in this situation. There was one listing that looked perfect in all aspects and I was excited to see it. But once we entered the apartment, the stench of a month’s worth of unchanged cat litter turned us off immediately. The place was dark, run down and unlivable to us. But the pictures looked so nice…
- Know the market well. Having a relocation agent helped of course. I would never dream of negotiating a rent but she said it’s normal these days and it saved us 200 a month. In addition to negotiating the rent and the cat, the landlord will cover the cost of a gardener to tend the hedges and kept some of the furniture we wanted to keep in the apartment.
Of the 6 places we saw over two days, we could imagine ourselves in two of them. The verbal offer we put on the first place was accepted. After about two weeks of negotiating the lease and signing it, we got the keys to our lovely 19th century heritage home.
I struggle to call it an apartment because when I think of an apartment, I imagine a single level dwelling in a building of multiple storeys. So I call our new place a flat. It’s a townhouse with two separate flats within. A family lives on the ground floor in their own flat with separate entrance. And we take up the rest of the house. The entrance is on the ground floor and immediately takes you up 26 stairs to the rest of the flat. The first floor has the kitchen, a large living room, an office, and extra room which we’ve turned into a dining room, a bathroom and storage closet. Then another set of stairs to the second floor with a laundry room, two bedrooms, and all the pieces of a bathroom… I’ll get into that in a minute.
When moving day finally came, I was excited to unpack and put all our belonging from Paris in our new home. It would start making Aberdeen finally feel like home. I was shocked when only two guys arrived to unload over 200 boxes and items. We got ready for a long day ahead. Lucky for them they had a mini furniture elevator which saved them from carrying 200 boxes up flights of stairs. Most boxes could be carried in through the window but it was still hard work. They unpacked 95% of all the boxes for us and by the end of the day, we had most things already in place. And by the end of the weekend, everything was organized save for a few pictures frames that still need to go up.
It immediately felt quite empty. Our new flat is more than 3 times bigger than our apartment in Paris. But I’m not complaining. I’m sure we’ll fill it in.
Quirks & advantages of our new home
A new home is always fun and frustrating to get used to. For example on our first day we had no hot water or heating (yes, we’ve had the heat on in August) because the system was air locked. Then our fridge wasn’t closing properly and got too warm inside. Now luckily, not too warm that we’ve been battling food poisoning. But we have to pay better attention to it.
Carpet everywhere. It is nice on your feet in the winter, but a pain when you have a cat and 3 times the amount of surface to vacuum.
The ‘bathroom’ on the second floor is unique. There’s a room for the toilet. And a room the size of a closet for the shower. And then there is a sink in each of the bedrooms. The sinks are original and beautiful but it’s quirky. As convenient as it is to have a sink in the bedroom, I still haven’t figured out how to organize our toiletries and bathroom essentials.
About those sinks. I never understood why some sinks have separate hot and cold taps. And now we have to live with that. One tap is scalding hot, the other is freezing cold. So what do I do? I have fill the sink up with a mixture of hot and cold water so I can rinse my face and wash my hands. It’s pretty annoying but if that’s the worst of it, we’re doing alright.
Large south-facing windows and skylights. What attracted us to this place were the large windows. So when there is the small amount of sunshine in Aberdeen, we get it throughout most of the flat. And I know that will make a big difference to our mental health.
The little luxuries. A second bathroom. It’s unfortunate that the nice bathroom with a beautiful claw footed bathtub is on the main floor but I can’t complain. I have not lived in a place with two bathrooms since I left my childhood home in 2009.
A large eat-in kitchen with a gigantic stove. I don’t think I’ll ever use 6 burners at once, but I do love my new stove. But my cookies sheets from Canada still don’t fit because the oven is split in two. I’m not sure when I will ever use them again.
A laundry room with a washer AND A dryer. I know it’s crazy to get excited about a dryer. But I struggled with laundry in Paris for the past 3.5 years. For one, the 2-in-1 washer/dryer was in the kitchen – not a convenient location. It also ruined a bunch of our clothes because the ‘drying’ feature just melted anything non-cotton. One load of laundry would take an entire day because I had to hang things up to dry after waiting for a completely unnecessary 2-hour wash cycle. Those days are gone and we can enjoy soft fluffy, lint-free clothes again thanks to the dryer.
Fireplaces in every room. This house is clearly set up for a cozy night in on a cold, dark winter night. Which I’m sure there’ll be plenty of.
No backyard. David sees it as an advantage. I would have liked even just a small area for a BBQ and maybe a chair and table. I may be naïve as we would likely never use the space to sit out. David is still determined to get a BBQ and keep in the front of the house… just 26 stairs away from the kitchen. Not convenient but hey, at least we can finally have a BBQ again.
The view. We’re in a neighbourhood called Rosemount which became very apparent to me when I was out on a run and ran back home… uphill. But that also means, we have a nice view over the city from the top floor of our flat. And although it’s mostly grey, it’s a nice view.
So although there were some bumps along the way and stresses getting settled in, the quirks of the flat are now becoming the norm. We’re well on our way to settling in now that we have a space to call our own, to decorate with our treasures from Paris and beyond, just waiting for new memories to fill it.
Any ideas on what I can do with my upstairs bathroom situation? How would you handle a toilet, shower and sink in three different spots?