Hands up if you have postcode envy?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

In the zone

Five years ago, aged 31, I managed to secure (an interest only) mortgage on a one bedroom flat in Harrow, West London, which – given the current property crisis in the capital – should be considered a cause for celebration, right?

Only – and here’s the rub – while Harrow may have helped me a get a first foot on the property ladder, it’s never felt like home. The crux of the matter is that whenever I visit my more centrally located London friends, I can’t help but feel a wave of envy wash over me.

It’s not a new development. I’ve yearned, since a young age, to live closer to zone one. However as a humble freelance journalist, I only managed to scrape the money together for the deposit on an apartment in Harrow (aka suburban hell) and even the fact that it’s a fairly spacious flat with its own small garden hasn’t helped.

So much so that when strangers ask where I live, I’ll reply west London (which could mean Shepherds Bush where I dreamt I’d end up, rather than Harrow).

Sure this might make me sound snobby but the crux of the matter is, I always envisaged that I’d live in a neighbourhood that reflected my personality and Harrow  – where the chain gang is king – is anything but my dream hood.

I’ve had it with going into battle with the Met line at stupid o clock every morning and spending an hour standing up on a sweaty tube just to get to work. Of pulling out of mid week plans with friends due to tube fatigue…

The pros – read having my own flat with a garden – can’t make up for the cons: being forced  to schlepp 75 minutes across town if I want to meet a mate for a mere coffee. And garden or no garden, my friends aren’t in any hurry to head all the way out to Harrow – and I can’t say I blame them.

All of which is why I’ve decided it’s time to relocate. My Father is worried that by the time I move, my mates – many of whom are in the throws of Motherhood and marriage – will have moved out of town to the burbs. No matter.

Of course I’d rather they remain, but – having spent the best part of last year renting a room in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires (Argentina), I’m of the opinion that inner city living can be energising as opposed to draining. In BA, post work drinks were organised at 4pm that day. If you tried to organise something in advance, you’d be greeted with a bemused look. Why can’t I have that life in London?

It’s a first world problem, I know, but I want to be able to host parties that people don’t drop out of because they’ve decided, after consulting Transport for London’s journey planner, that Harrow is a major headache to get to.

I want to be able to go for brunch in Brixton market and rollerblade around one of London’s leafy parks, not potter around Primark and Poundland or get my exercise from striding around St Georges and St Anns shopping centre aka your average high street hell.

And if I have to rent (most likely) rather than buy (the great British dream) and drown in debt, then so be it. It’s finally dawned on me that I have different mindset, one that bears a resemblance to that of our continental cousins (none of the Europeans I know obsess over owning bricks and mortar). For me, a house isn’t a home. No sir. A home, in the words of American author Pierce Brown, “is where you find light when all grows dark.”

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