So I’m flat-hunting.
In just under a month, this crazy roller coaster that is 30 Dates will see me moving to the Capital. A bona fide Londoner. After a year of ending dates with a seemingly endless two-hour long commute, I’ll actually be able to jump on a Tube, or call a cab at the end of a date, and be home!
As I trawl through endless photos of flats online, I can’t help but smile. It reminds me of a very similar process – online dating!
When you think about it, there a large number of parallels between finding the key to your heart, and the key to your home. Like a relationship, where you live defines your every day. It affects you when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night.
There are differing levels of commitment – from a night in a hotel, to a long or short-term lease, to buying a property for good!
Like online dating, the profile picture is key. I can’t count how many profiles I skimmed over because the first photo wasn’t taken from an appealing angle, or didn’t include interior decoration features I find attractive.
And like online dating, you quickly set parameters for your search. Instead of age, it’s cost. Instead of height, it’s distance from the Tube station.
Being let down by a flatmate, or to have a flat fall through, can feel like you’re being dumped. It’s just as personal a slight, and in a lot of ways has just as great an impact on your day-to-day life. Likewise, finding the right flat can be a weight off your shoulders. A shell that becomes a home. A person who becomes a safe-haven.
In the same way you have to meet a guy to know if there’s a connection, there’s no point judging a flat solely on it’s online profile. Until you’re actually standing inside the property, you won’t know if it’s the ‘One’!
And so, as I flicked through shots of kitchens and bathrooms – new builds and period buildings, flats based in North London and the South West – I realised something I already know from my experiences of online dating.
It’s only through experience that you realise what is really important to you.
I know from my time living in Reading that I find laminate floors more attractive than carpets. I know I like quite minimalist, modern homes that I can make my own with my own furniture and decorations. I know space is important to me, and that I won’t sacrifice on that, because I have a 3-seater sofa, and a 6-seater dining table!
But that when it comes to noise, I’ve happily lived beside a railway line and on a busy main road.
I know that I like being on the top floor of an apartment block, because it makes me feel safer if I’m living alone. And that having lived in a flat with a balcony for two years, it’s important that my flat is bright and has lots of windows.
I know the things I’m prepared to sacrifice on – I don’t mind walking for ten minutes to get to a train station, or climbing lots of stairs to get to my own front door. I don’t mind if I have a bath or a shower.
Mundane considerations, but important things to know when you’re about to commit to renting a house.
And how do I know all those things? Because I’ve been renting flats for three years in this country, and because I lived in all kinds of living arrangements when I was backpacking and working in Canada.
At times in my life I was a live-in nanny, happily living in the home of another family. I once lodged with a family for a ski season. Another time I spent three months on a mattress on the floor of a laundry cabin. And one summer I lived in the pool house of a mansion, sleeping on an old living room chaise longue!
Back then those things worked for me, but now I know different. It’s taken me years, but now that I’m prepared to be spending crazy amounts on rent in the Capital, I know which things I want for my money, and which features I’m prepared to be flexible on.
And likewise, when it comes to relationships, I’m ready to invest in a long-term commitment, and as a result, I know what I want, and what I don’t. And that comes from going on a lot of dates, and meeting a lot of singletons!
The only way you can truly appreciate what works for you, and what doesn’t, is by understanding the other options. There is no point writing something off, if you don’t have experience of it. A year ago, if you’d asked me about dating a guy with children, I’d have flat out said no. And yet my best connection to date with a man I’ve met during this blog’s lifetime, was with a man who had a six year-old daughter. A year ago I’d have never consider Army boys – and yet they’ve proven to be some of my most interesting, and well-matched dates.
Sometimes you have to take a chance on a rogue viewing. Let an estate agent show you a flat which doesn’t immediately cast your eye. You can’t always be wary of the ‘viewing recommended’ signs – not every flat photographs in a way that does it justice, in the same way a lot of daters don’t know how to properly market themselves online!
But the biggest parallel I’ve realised, in my approach to flat hunting, and dating in general … is that I’m a hopeless romantic!
I have to find a flat in 4 weeks. If I don’t I’ll be homeless, or living in a van with all my worldly possessions!
But I’m not panicking. I have this underlying belief that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps silly from someone who is a self-confessed Atheist. But I’ve always been of the positive approach that everything will work itself out.
That in the next four weeks, I’ll stumble upon a house that will become my London home. The stage of the next chapter in my adult life.
And that some day, I’ll also stumble upon the man who will become my ‘One’. The lead character in my own personal ‘How I Met Your Father’ story 🙂
I guess I’ll be keeping you posted on both those counts!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx