Finding a London apartment to rent is an essential step in your international relocation to London, England. The London Relocation company’s agents and website here are invaluable resources for flat-finding advice, and I thought I’d supplement that with a bit of historical fun; i.e., how the Victorians were advised to approach the house-hunting process. Knowing my nerdy penchant for Victorian London history ever since we moved into our 19th century terraced house on moving to London from the US, my husband just gave me the book, The Pocket Enquire Within: A guide to the Niceties and Necessities of Victorian domestic life. Oh my gosh, do I love it. Originally published in 1856, this was an actual reference book that Victorians consulted for guidance on living properly. Some bits are outright hilarious to read given their outdated context, but I thought you might be interested in the diligent advice offered for “taking a house” if you’re making a relocation to London and in need of a home [Licks thumb and turns page to chapter on "Household Management"]:
TAKING A HOUSE – Before taking a house, be careful to calculate that the rent is not too high in proportion to your means; for remember that the rent is a claim that must be paid with but little delay, and that the landlord has greater power over your property than any other creditor.
HAVING DETERMINED the amount of rent which you can afford to pay, be careful to select the best house which can be obtained for that sum. And in making that selection let the following matters be carefully considered: -
FIRST – Carefully regard the healthfulness of the situation. Avoid the neighbourhood of graveyards, and of factories giving forth unhealthy vapours; avoid low and damp districts, the course of canals, and localities of reservoirs of water, gas works, &c.; make inquiries as to the drainage of the neighbourhood, and inspect the drainage and water supply of the premises. A house standing on an incline is likely to be better drained than one standing upon the summit of a hill, or on a level below a hill. Endeavour to obtain a position where the direct sunlight falls upon the house, for this is absolutely essential to health; and give preference to a house the openings of which are sheltered from the north and east winds.
SECOND – Consider the distance of the house from your place of occupation: and also its relation to provision markets, and the prices that prevail in the neighbourhood.
Got that, ole chap? Pip-pip. Well, I reckon your London Relocation agent would agree with all aspects of that second point. As for the first, perhaps I should be more concerned that I live near an utterly awesome and atmospheric Victorian cemetery, hmm… In any case, more Victorian advice to follow in my next post. Why? Because I think it’s funny. And I know the London Relocation agency will provide you the more modern housing advice you seek in the meantime.