Yep, my relationship with Don (Lon Don) was off to an interesting start - we were starting to see each other more and had set up this cute date to see each other over the winter holidays. What can I say, when it's love, sometimes you gotta let things flow, right?
In actuality this was my pre-move trip to figure out what neighborhood I wanted to live in. Or at least narrow the search. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny communities in London. Not even London proper, just London itself. And I needed to get the list down to a reasonable amount so when I met my apartment agent sometime in February, I would have something smart to tell him/her when they asked where I wanted to live.
Parameters. It's all about parameters.
Huff. This was going to be an adventure.
Luckily, I have a friend who lives in London already. Actually I have several. And one of them, who I will nickname Dirty Policeman Steve (DP Steve, for short), was a true gentleman and volunteered to give me a tour of the neighborhoods I was interested in checking out by driving me around and giving me a brief summary of what I could expect.
Needless to say his knowledge was boundless, and extremely informational. I guess that's what happens when you live somewhere for 10 years.
...no, that's not what happens when you live somewhere for 10 years. That's what happens when you're intelligent and know something about the place you've been living for 10 years. I lived with Randy Ego (i.e. in San Diego) for almost that exact amount of time and I would have a horrid time doing what DP Steve did for me.
Just makes me give even bigger props to DP Steve. Extreme props, in fact. Double thanks to DP Steve.
Anyway, our list of places to visit was not particularly short, as I have no idea what to expect from anything and all of my knowledge comes from databases, web research, and recommendations others have given me. My parents have shamefully supplied me with much of this knowledge. I have once again been traveling and working so much that doing the research for this has been painfully set aside. Sometimes, there really isn't enough time for everything everyday.
Back to our shortlist.
From research done by my parents and some relative thinking, my list consisted of:
DP Steve said these were good, and added these to our list as well:
Chiswick (near Ealing)
Shepherd's Bush (near Chiswick)
Barnes (near Roehampton)
Parsons Green (near Putney)
We ended up seeing most of these, plus some others that were not listed, like Fulham, Earl's Court, and a few places that happened to be inbetween the places we were trying to go to.
My general conclusions?
Ealing is great, Richmond is awesome but probably too expensive, Shepherd's Bush is hilarious and I would love living there almost simply because of the name (the puns would be outrageous and neverending), and one of them, I think it was Parson's Green, had some sweet bum action (as in homeless persons, not of the posterior variety).
Basically it was said that one should not judge a building by its outside - could be gorgeous on the outside and disgusting on the inside and vice versa. Thoughts about amenities and how important they were to you should really come into play. If you really like an area but it's too expensive consider renting in the next area over the community line - rents do go up or down according to postal code. So if you like an area but it's too expensive, go to the next postal code (which could be a 5 minute walk away) and you may likely be able to afford it.
So it came down to, well, priorities, as it always does. What's important to you? What are you willing to give up?
Pretty sure I value the interior of my home more than anything else (I'm not living in anything I can't feel comfortable in), the size isn't important to me so much as the cleanliness and the aura that it gives off, I want somewhere that I can have an easy commute to work from (which doesn't necessarily mean fast, just means one transfer or so if possible), and hopefully access to somewhere where I can run outdoors.
Being close to things like grocery stores and that sort of thing is likely to come secondary to me. I am clearly a shopping loser when it comes to sustenance (though I went to the grocery store yesterday and was happy to see that things are cheaper here than in Helsinki), and I can go grocery shopping around my work before returning home. My gym will also will near work, as they give subsidies for memberships there.
So...the list narrowing continues.
Don you promise me so much - don't let me down. Your big city promises frighten me, but there is so much potential.