Friday, November 7, 2008

Okay, so LONDON! Yes. I am here. I am settled into my (new) life and things are so far going smoothly. However, I have been a terrible blogger! I have been keeping a budget for the month of November (good pf blogger!) and so far have been learning all sorts of new ways to be frugal... and new ways to spend money in a new town!

I am now settled into a 4 bedroom house in Wimbledon. I am staying in a small room on the main floor, while all of the other people (2 single guys, 1 couple) all sleep upstairs. Currently I pay £412 pounds a month in rent (approx. £95 a week), which was slightly over my budget of £100 a week (not including bills). How our bills work is each person pays one bill (in my case council tax), and we tally them up and settle it all every couple of months. One of my roommates is an accountant and he keeps a spreadsheet to tally all our bills and any additionals we buy (such as loo paper and washing up soap) and we balance it out everytime someone moves out or moves in. So far it seems to work.

I really like the people that I am living with. One guy, we'll call him A - the accountant. Is from South Africa. He is, I think, 30, and is here on a similar VISA to what I have, although he plans to apply for a highly-skilled VISA next spring. He is generally friendly and was really the first of the roommates to offer to help me - he showed me where the local Sainsbury's was and offers advice whenever he can. The advice isn't always warranted but I know he means well.

Another guy, called T, is also South African. He is very quiet, and we haven't spoken much. Although he does open up around some of the other saffa roommates, and I think that it is just a level of comfort with the others. He seems very sweet, though. He is moving out on December 8th, first to the USA then home.

The couple, R and AJ (I'll call them RAJ), are also very friendly. R is from Australia and she's my age. She's super sweet and talkative and we get along quite well. It is nice to have another girl around. AJ is from Namibia and is very friendly. Him, along with the other saffa roomies have some very strong opinions, most of which I don't necessarily agree with, but they are a lot of fun and also very friendly. He is the youngest roomie at 21. RAJ are going to their respective homes in December, which I know will be rough on them.

AJ's brother, B, is also living with us at the moment on the couch. He is very sweet and friendly. He will be taking T's room when he moves out in December. He was very quiet in the beginning and I didn't really know what to do with him, but now that's he's a little more comfortable I find him very funny. I am glad that he's staying around when his brother leaves, although I'm sure that will be hard on him.

We seem to be a good match. We're good about cleaning up, and generally we just take informal turns at cleaning and doing the dishes. No one seems to be slacking, and no one seems to have hard feelings, which is nice.

So far adjusting to life outside my family home has been relatively easy. ish. I find it difficult cooking for myself, mainly. I can cook the basics, like chicken... and steak. And grilled onions and garlic bread. But really, that's about it. Oh, and Pasta! So it's taken some getting used to to make some unique or slightly different meals. At the same time, I found out very quickly that eating in is MUCH MUCH cheaper than eating out. Although, at the same time, vegetables are quite expensive.

Originally I had planned on living with a family - I thought that it would be nice to have a family around, and I had more security if I was the only 'renter'. However, I'm glad it ended up this way. I like having people around my own age, I can talk and swear freely without worrying what people will think - or what influence I would have over their children!!

I am really liking London so far. Sometimes I look out over the grey skies and smoggy street and wish for the fresh air and cool winds of the praries, but when I take a walk through the old streets, or wander through another castle with celtic music playing in my headphones, I remember why I came here. It's like I said to some of my roommates: "I found shit on the Thames that was older than my country!". I love the history here, and I can't wait to explore more.

However, for the time being, I am looking for seasonal work. That was always the plan, to have fun for a couple months then work seasonally before having fun again. So, it's off for seasonal work I go. I had originally hoped to work right in the middle of London, where all the Christmas excitement was, but when I realized that it would cost me £5 a day (on pay-as-you-go Oyster) to get from here (zone 3) to there (zone 1) and back, that wasn't worth it - especially when wages here are around the £6 to £7 mark. That basically shaves an hour of work a day, just to commute. Southfields mall is a quick bus ride away (90p each day) and there is plenty of work there to be had. I will be e-mailing out resumes tomorrow morning and hopefully by the end of next week I will have a job! It will be sad to lose my tourist freedom, but at the same time, it will be nice to see some deposits into my account rather than withdrawls.

Anyways, that's enough rambling for now. I will talk more of my budget and such in the morning. Plus I've got to figure out how to apply for an NI number - something that seems to baffle everyone.. Hmmm...