Settling in Aberdeen: Moving into our new home

Friends and family have been asking us, how are you settling in Aberdeen?  The short answer:  pretty well.

Here’s a look at how we’ve begun to start a new life in Aberdeen with the most important aspect of it all: housing

Apartment Hunting

You can’t do anything in the UK without an address.  And our temporary address while living in the serviced apartment didn’t count.  So before we could get bank accounts, cell phone plans, buy a car, get car insurance or see a doctor, we needed an address.  Our apartment hunt started as soon as we arrived in Aberdeen.  The relocation company booked our appointments and took us around to visit apartments.

I want to point out that times are tough in Aberdeen given the state of the worldwide oil & gas industry.  Things are not booming here so it was relatively easy to find a place.  There was no exorbitant out bidding or astronomical prices that people saw just a few years ago.  Fortunately for us, we had the upper hand in negotiating the rent as well as the conditions.  For example, pets are typically not allowed. Yet, the apartment was sitting empty for over a year, so Sadie was welcome as well as a rent 200 less than asking!

Lessons for Apartment Hunting in Aberdeen: 

  • Look across multiple sites to find listings that you want to visit: rightmove.co.uk, http://www.aspc.co.uk as well as some agent specific websites like Aberdeen Property Leasing and Stonehouse Lettings.
  • Furnished apartments are plentiful. More so than unfurnished apartments and houses.  So if you are moving to Aberdeen and deciding whether to bring your household belongings, then don’t bring them and you’ll have a lot more to choose from.
  • Don’t let pictures deceive you! This is the case anywhere I suppose. And in boom times, people sometimes have to accept apartments without seeing them first.  I’m sure glad we weren’t in this situation.  There was one listing that looked perfect in all aspects and I was excited to see it.  But once we entered the apartment, the stench of a month’s worth of unchanged cat litter turned us off immediately.  The place was dark, run down and unlivable to us.  But the pictures looked so nice…
  • Know the market well. Having a relocation agent helped of course.  I would never dream of negotiating a rent but she said it’s normal these days and it saved us 200 a month.  In addition to negotiating the rent and the cat, the landlord will cover the cost of a gardener to tend the hedges and kept some of the furniture we wanted to keep in the apartment.

Of the 6 places we saw over two days, we could imagine ourselves in two of them.  The verbal offer we put on the first place was accepted.  After about two weeks of negotiating the lease and signing it, we got the keys to our lovely 19th century heritage home.

Our Home

I struggle to call it an apartment because when I think of an apartment, I imagine a single level dwelling in a building of multiple storeys.  So I call our new place a flat.  It’s a townhouse with two separate flats within.  A family lives on the ground floor in their own flat with separate entrance.  And we take up the rest of the house.  The entrance is on the ground floor and immediately takes you up 26 stairs to the rest of the flat.  The first floor has the kitchen, a large living room, an office, and extra room which we’ve turned into a dining room, a bathroom and storage closet.  Then another set of stairs to the second floor with a laundry room, two bedrooms, and all the pieces of a bathroom… I’ll get into that in a minute.


Moving Day

When moving day finally came, I was excited to unpack and put all our belonging from Paris in our new home.  It would start making Aberdeen finally feel like home.  I was shocked when only two guys arrived to unload over 200 boxes and items.  We got ready for a long day ahead.  Lucky for them they had a mini furniture elevator which saved them from carrying 200 boxes up flights of stairs.  Most boxes could be carried in through the window but it was still hard work.  They unpacked 95% of all the boxes for us and by the end of the day, we had most things already in place.  And by the end of the weekend, everything was organized save for a few pictures frames that still need to go up.

It immediately felt quite empty.  Our new flat is more than 3 times bigger than our apartment in Paris.  But I’m not complaining.  I’m sure we’ll fill it in.



Quirks & advantages of our new home   

A new home is always fun and frustrating to get used to.  For example on our first day we had no hot water or heating (yes, we’ve had the heat on in August) because the system was air locked.  Then our fridge wasn’t closing properly and got too warm  inside.  Now luckily, not too warm that we’ve been battling food poisoning.  But we have to pay better attention to it.

Carpet everywhere.  It is nice on your feet in the winter, but a pain when you have a cat and 3 times the amount of surface to vacuum.

The ‘bathroom’ on the second floor is unique.  There’s a room for the toilet. And a room the size of a closet for the shower.  And then there is a sink in each of the bedrooms.  The sinks are original and beautiful but it’s quirky.  As convenient as it is to have a sink in the bedroom, I still haven’t figured out how to organize our toiletries and bathroom essentials.

About those sinks.  I never understood why some sinks have separate hot and cold taps.  And now we have to live with that.  One tap is scalding hot, the other is freezing cold.  So what do I do?  I have fill the sink up with a mixture of hot and cold water so I can rinse my face and wash my hands.  It’s pretty annoying but if that’s the worst of it, we’re doing alright.

Large south-facing windows and skylights.  What attracted us to this place were the large windows.  So when there is the small amount of sunshine in Aberdeen, we get it throughout most of the flat.  And I know that will make a big difference to our mental health.

The little luxuries.  A second bathroom.  It’s unfortunate that the nice bathroom with a beautiful claw footed bathtub is on the main floor but I can’t complain.  I have not lived in a place with two bathrooms since I left my childhood home in 2009.

A large eat-in kitchen with a gigantic stove.  I don’t think I’ll ever use 6 burners at once, but I do love my new stove.  But my cookies sheets from Canada still don’t fit because the oven is split in twoI’m not sure when I will ever use them again.

A laundry room with a washer AND A dryer.  I know it’s crazy to get excited about a dryer.  But I struggled with laundry in Paris for the past 3.5 years.  For one, the 2-in-1 washer/dryer was in the kitchen – not a convenient location.  It also ruined a bunch of our clothes because the ‘drying’ feature just melted anything non-cotton.  One load of laundry would take an entire day because I had to hang things up to dry after waiting for a completely unnecessary 2-hour wash cycle.  Those days are gone and we can enjoy soft fluffy, lint-free clothes again thanks to the dryer.

Fireplaces in every room.   This house is clearly set up for a cozy night in on a cold, dark winter night.  Which I’m sure there’ll be plenty of.

No backyard.  David sees it as an advantage.  I would have liked even just a small area for a BBQ and maybe a chair and table.  I may be naïve as we would likely never use the space to sit out.  David is still determined to get a BBQ and keep in the front of the house… just 26 stairs away from the kitchen.  Not convenient but hey, at least we can finally have a BBQ again.

The view.  We’re in a neighbourhood called Rosemount which became very apparent to me when I was out on a run and ran back home… uphill.  But that also means, we have a nice view over the city from the top floor of our flat.  And although it’s mostly grey, it’s a nice view.

So although there were some bumps along the way and stresses getting settled in, the quirks of the flat are now becoming the norm.  We’re well on our way to settling in now that we have a space to call our own, to decorate with our treasures from Paris and beyond, just waiting for new memories to fill it.

Any ideas on what I can do with my upstairs bathroom situation?  How would you handle a toilet, shower and sink in three different spots?


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  • Wow looks like an amazing property! Also seems like it was made to be some sort of lodge – where people come to stay in their own bedroom but share the rest of the house – seems the only reason to have sinks in the bedroom haha. I mean I would keep the shower stuff at the shower and everything else in the bedroom at that point, may end up convenient 🙂

    haha aw carpet everywhere, I’d never seen that before coming here, but it’s a great way to stay warm as it’s never warm here. Oh and yeah I get the heating in august haha, we try to not have it on at all between April and September haha

    • Yeah our landlord said it used to be a guesthouse. There was a sink in the bedroom on the main floor as well but they took it out (and we now use that as a dining room). Yeah all the toiletries are spread out across the different places where they’ll be used. Most of them are in the armoire next o the sink in our bedroom… on a shelf just below our sweaters… it’s weird but it works. Thanks Camila!

  • Elizabeth Bunney

    I love the fireplaces and that stove!! Wow! I’ll be over for dinner for sure lol
    I have seen that sink set up. Very old fashioned – no tips from me unfortunately.

  • What a pretty flat! I love the fireplaces in every room. One of our cookie sheets from home has yet to fit in an Aussie oven too.

  • Wow you have so much space now! The separated bathroom is a bit weird..the only thing I can think of would be to have duplicates of things. Like if there is something you might use in either the shower or at the sink than just have one in both places so you’re not running back and forth. The two taps sound quite annoying, but I wonder if that’s a common feature in that area? Glad y’all are settling in! And I LOVE that location sign you have.

    • That’s a great idea about the duplicates. The two taps is common in the UK. It has something to do with how houses were built and the water sources. Runoff/rain water from an attic tank would be heated up and used through the hot taps whereas cold water came from the city mains. And they didn’t want cross-contamination in the even something failed and rain water got into the main supply. Apparently people grew up here which the idea you should never drink for the hot tap.

      The location sign is awesome – that was our first apartment in Paris where we spent 3 years. We custom ordered it from a site online called http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/. They have some really sweet things. Thanks for the comment Ava!

      • We had that sort of sink in San Francisco as well. It’s pretty common in a certain type of architecture from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

      • That makes sense – good thing you know to not drink from the hot one. Thanks so much for the link! I’ve already told my husband that we must get one to remember our time in Germany.

  • Congrats on settling in to your new place! A lot of it sounds a lot like the place we found in Dublin and after being here for almost a year I can tell you we’re still getting used to some of the quirks, namely the double ovens that are TINY and all of the stairs. Enjoy the space!

    • Yeah the stairs are another thing in our place! So many! I suppose the quirks will turn to fond memories one day. 🙂 Thank you for reading and leaving the comments.

  • MissLilly

    wow lots of space indeed!!! There’s a deep love with carpets here in uk. I wish I could just have wood all over the house and tiles in kitchen and bathroom. It’s a challenge to find a house/ flat without carpet in the living room. I’ve heard some places even have carpet in the toilet! Don’t get the two taps either. Fortunately in my flat I have just the 1 tap (and lucky to have 2 bathrooms as well). Love the stairs in your house and the light. I wish I had a fireplace as well, it feels so cosy. As for the quirkiness of the bathrooms I have to admit I have no ideas

    • Ugh I’d hate to think of the bacteria engrained in any carpet in bathrooms… ick. Glad that’s not in our house. I assume I’ll appreciate the carpet some winter but it’s such a pain to keep clean/tidy with a cat running around. Our landlord said the house used to be a guesthouse so that’s why all the sinks in the rooms… It’s growing on us. And dead handy actually.