- The ghost of Crystal Palace -

16th January '19

Thankfully after the new year, I did start getting some rejections.

I know that might not sound like a good thing, but for the two weeks starting about a week prior to Christmas, it had been like my job applications had been going into a black hole, and rejections were preferable to silence.

On the first day after the new year, I got two rejections and one offer of a phone interview.

The next day I got a couple more rejections, and two random calls from agents thinking they could help me.

I'm not really a fan of agents but... fuck it, if they can help me.

The next day I woke-up to a rejection from the one job that I'd applied for in Bangkok, on that grounds that the government wouldn't give me a visa there with any less than two years experience.

Fucking government.

I had the aforementioned phone interview on this day too. I bumbled through it a bit, but that's part of the learning process.

Each phone interview that I have I'm learning more about the questions that I'm going to be asked, and I'm making notes of any that stump me and writing dummy answers for how I can reply better next time.

This interview still went well enough that I got invited for an in-person interview the next Tuesday though.

I still knew very little about this job. I didn't even know of a prospective salary yet, but I need as much interview practice as I can get, so even if they'd told me they wanted me to work for free, I'd have still gone in for the interview, so I figured that it wasn't necessary to be pushy about money.

As I said from the beginning, my expectations for this process, were that it was going to take hundreds of applications to get an interview, and it was going to take dozens of interviews to get a job.

In actuality, I'd got my first on-site interview after just seventy-six applications, so it was going rather well.

This will perhaps sound rather foolish to anyone that doesn't like video games, but I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a months, possibly years-long process.

Learning enough and becoming qualified enough to just start applying for jobs, took a month of prep before going to the bootcamp, two months at the bootcamp, then weeks of work afterwards. And the job application process could go on indefinitely. The important thing is to just not lose faith, to not lose motivation, and to not become frustrated.

If I start feeling, even for a moment, that this dream isn't going to happen, then that's a bad place to be. If I stop being happy to sit down at my computer and code everyday, or if I stop doing everything in my power to make this a reality, then I've probably already lost.

To that end, I've rid my life of as many distractions as possible, the most notable being that I haven't switched-on my PS4 since July.

I know from experience, that no matter how much you tell yourself that... I'm going to start this new game, but I'm only going to play it when I have the time, and I'm not going to get too involved with it, and I'm not going to prioritise it above other things... ten hours later, you're hooked, and losing sleep to play every hour that you can around your work.

So when I turned-off my PS4 in July, and a couple of weeks later signed-up for a bootcamp, I told myself that no matter what, you're not turning it on again until this is over; until you've either got a job, or you've given up trying. You don't need that distraction.

My end game, apart from to get a developer job of course, is to have the means to rent a small, private apartment, within which I'll have all of my guilty pleasures, like my PS4, set-up and ready to use.

So it's kind of the carrot that I'm dangling in front of myself that... keep your chin up. Sure, you've just been rejected for 75 different jobs, but keep at it, and one day soon, you'll be sitting in your own apartment, playing on your PS4.

That's kind of sad, isn't it?

It's more motivating though, because I'm still subscribed to the PS4 and gaming subs on Reddit, and every couple of months a showcase title gets released.

A couple of months ago it was Spiderman. Now it's Red Dead Redemption 2. And I have to sit through people endlessly posting about how great these games are and thinking... one day... one day soon I'll get to play them.

But it got me thinking, how much is a TV nowadays? And it's not as expensive as you might expect.

It's only £379 for a 50" Samsung 4K TV, which is about a third of the price of the latest iPhone.

It just seemed rather low to me, I expected it to cost more.

But having a TV that I could actually afford, kind of evolved my vision of being in my own apartment a little bit.

So I'll have a PS4 and a 50" 4K TV will I?

Which prompted me to write down my dream list.

Apart from essential items like cooking equipment and a bed, what would I buy if I could afford it?

Let's keep this dream rolling, see if I can't motivate myself a little more whilst saving every penny that I can as I go through this job hunt.

And perhaps I'm not very imaginative, but it turns-out that there's only £3,135 worth of stuff that I want to buy in the entire world.

I would be a shit millionaire.

As well as my 4K TV, I'd spend £170 to unnecessarily upgrade to a 4K Apple TV, and £350 to unnecessarily upgrade to a PS4 Pro. Then I'd spend £159 on a pair of AirPods, £329 on some Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. I'd get a PSVR to go with my PS4 Pro for £220, and just because I'm rich, I'd upgrade to an iPhone XS for £1,099, even though my iPhone 6 works perfectly well, and I'd get an Apple Watch Series 4 for £429, even though my Series 2 is still fine.

That's literally it. I cannot think of another material item in the world that would make my life any better.

And if you take out the Apple TV, the PS4 Pro, the iPhone and the Apple Watch, because they're only upgrades of things that I already have... oh, that only costs £1,087.

Wow, so I'll be able to kit-out my apartment with everything that I want it to have, for less than the cost of an iPhone.

Ok, now I'm motivated. I've got to hurry up and get a job so I can hurry up and live in my apartment with my 4K TV and my virtual reality headset.

The responses kept on coming. On the first Monday of the year, my phone wouldn't stop ringing, and my email inbox was blowing up.

I had calls from six different recruiters, and I was starting to hear back from the jobs that I'd applied for over Christmas, where it felt like my applications were going into a black hole.

It turns-out that they weren't, and it actually started to become a little overwhelming.

One thing that I wanted to do, was keep interviews, even phone interviews, down to one per day if I could.

What I didn't want to happen, was that I became so involved in the job hunt, that I stopped coding and I stopped trying to improve my skills.

I still wanted 80% of my time to be coding, and 20% to be looking for a job, not the other way around.

If I wasn't able to get a job now, then two months from now I wanted to be more skilled and more employable. And to that end, with this in-person interview on Tuesday, I then set-up a phone interview on Wednesday, a phone interview on Thursday, a phone interview on Friday, a phone interview on Monday, and a phone interview on Tuesday.

Well... business has suddenly picked-up.

I was becoming rather adept at these phone interviews. My real concern ever since it had been arranged, was the in-person technical interview that I had scheduled, because you can read absolute horror stories about these.

You get these impossible coding challenges, and have to complete them with people looking over your shoulder the whole time.

They can apparently be pretty horrific. And like with the phone interviews, they're going to be a learning process.

I wasn't expecting to be successful at my first one. I might not even be successful at my tenth one. But hopefully I'd eventually get there.

Based on what I'd heard about them though, I went into this first interview with what I thought was a realistic attitude:

"This is going to be the worst five hours of my life."

People tend to see me as pessimistic, but I tend to view people that go into things any other way as foolish.

If you go into things expecting them to go well, then your best case scenario is that things go as you thought, but they might be a lot worse.

If you go into things expecting the worst, then your worst case scenario is that they go as you expected, but they might be a lot better.

But more than that, it keeps you motivated and sharp.

Fear is a good motivator to keep you trying as hard as you can, and so I was perhaps intentionally building-up this interview in my mind to be worse than I really thought it would be.

It was in East London, like everything tech-related bloody is.

I don't know why they can't put it all outside my house; that would make life so much easier than having to traipse over to the other side of London for every Meetup and every interview.

So decked-out in an £8 Tesco shirt and some shoes that I found under my bed, I set-off to traverse London yet again, going to this company that was only a couple of hundred yards from one of the Meetups that I'd been going to, so I actually knew the area pretty well.

I didn't know the specific street though, and before even finding the office I was going to, I noticed that down the end of the street, about a thirty second walk away, was a Veggie Pret.

That's amazing. I've never even heard of such a thing before.

It's Pret a Manger, but of only vegetarian food.

Alright, suddenly I really want this job.

This area of London is very hipster, and I heard a stat recently that veganism in the UK has gone up 700% in the past two years, which is presumably everyone trying to be like me.

But as a result, this area isn't the worst in the world to be vegan, even if it's not quite Canggu. And having a Veggie Pret a thirty second walk from where I'd be working would be amazing.

I'd be able to pop-out from the office and get a sandwich, just like a normal person.

Well... that's just ramped-up the pressure, because now I really want this job.

Like many modern businesses nowadays, especially in the tech world, the office was a sort-of... open-plan warehouse, with the occupants all in casual clothing.

Don't I feel overdressed in my £8 Tesco shirt?

But for all the horror stories that I'd heard, I actually enjoyed the half-day that I spent with this company.

It almost felt like a day back at the bootcamp again.

Everyone was friendly, and the guy that I spent the most time with, the CTO, just set me a challenge, and pretty much let me get on with it.

He wasn't looking over my shoulder at all, but at the same time, was available to ask questions to.

At the beginning, I was a little taken aback by the whole situation. Just the nerves of being there for an interview got the better of me.

I wasn't able to type fluently, and my mind was blanking on things that I knew.

After about thirty minutes though, I started to relax and get into a rhythm, and I wasn't being asked to do anything too different from what I'd have been doing were I sat alone coding at home.

At one point during the afternoon, I got taken-out by the COO of the company to get coffee as a way to get to know her, and she was really nice.

For the rest of the time, like I said, it was actually kind of enjoyable. I learned a Hell of a lot just from asking for help about things that I wasn't sure about.

At the end of the day, I sat down with the CTO, who I'd been with for most of the day, and one of the other developers, and we talked about some things.

They told me a lot more about the company, about what they'd expect from me, asked me about my salary expectations, things like that.

It gave me what I felt was a false sense of security that they were asking me these things at the end of the day.

On the one hand I was thinking... alright, I've enjoyed being here, but I haven't been overly impressive with how I've coded.

I can do much better than this, sure, but they don't know that, and based on how I've coded today, I probably wouldn't give me a job.

So on the one hand I had that thought, but on the other... why are they telling me all of this stuff at the end of the day, if I have no chance of getting this job?

And obviously nothing had been decided for certain. I'd been in the company of either the COO or the CTO for the entire day, so I know for a fact that they hadn't had the chance to talk about me yet, so perhaps they were just going through the usual interview motions of things that they go over with a candidate.

So when I finally left, I was a little unclear. It seemed like it would be a nice place to work though, and not just because there was a Veggie Pret right outside.

Everyone seemed chilled and friendly, it was a nice office, they seemed to understand my ability level.

I was almost disappointed that this had been my first coding interview, because my initial nerves might have been what cost me this opportunity, but...

Well on we go. What's done is done.

I had a phone interview the next morning, and that went pretty well as well.

I'd got the hang of the phone interviews by now.

They all asked very similar questions, so I'd had a lot of practice.

This was one where I was a little disappointed with how well it went, because this company is based in Bristol. And although I'm willing to move for the right opportunity, I think that I'd prefer to stay in London.

Plus, the in-person interview for this job would of course be in Bristol, a two-and-a-half-hour MegaBus away, because the trains are too expensive. And that's a long way and a lot of time spent, to travel for an interview for a job that's somewhere that I don't really want to go.

Dammit, why did they have to be so nice?

My phone interview the next day was also with a company in Bristol, and as I was finding, there's a real shortage of developers there.

London is obviously the UK's tech hub, but after that, just from seeing all the jobs ads, it seems to be followed by Bristol and Edinburgh. The problem being, as I found through my phone interviews, that Bristol just doesn't have any developers. So if you are willing to move there, it does seem to be quite rich-pickings.

The interview on this day also went frustratingly well.

From looking at the website beforehand, I assumed that this was quite a big company.

"Nope, it's just me," the guy that I was interviewing with told me.

He was the only developer at this company that had a few other employees in other departments.

He was looking to hire a junior dev to train to basically take-over the running of this company's site, so that he could move-onto some other things and...

Well that's kind of exciting.

Through this process, I'd been applying for basically any job that I felt qualified for, and quite a few that I didn't. But my hope had always been to join a small startup.

Just big enough that I could get some mentorship and continue to progress, but not so big that no one would notice if I wasn't there.

A development team of maybe five to fifteen people was what I had in mind.

This really would be a small company, where I might find myself out on my own quite a lot, but at the same time... well there's no better way to learn.

What a baptism of fire to know that if you fuck-up, the company goes offline.

That is, in my opinion, the fastest way to learn. So it was the kind of opportunity I'd be nervous as Hell about, but what an experience as well.

It kind of excited me, and he seemed a really nice guy, so dammit, I might have to go to Bristol on a MegaBus a second time.

With the job-hunt taking-up so much of my time, and with so many irons in various fires, I started to become more choosy about the jobs I applied to.

You know what? Maybe I don't have to be willing to move to any shit-hole part of the country. Maybe I can limit my search to places that'll actually be nice to live, and stop applying to places like Scotland.

And let's forget about agents as well.

I didn't really understand the motivation of companies to get an agent to run their employee hunt for them, because it's so easy to just write an ad on the various job boards and get it in front of so many people, without having to pay agents' fees.

And from an employee perspective, I'd much rather be dealing with companies directly, than dealing with some agent, so how many people are you missing-out on?

But alright, let's stop applying to job adverts written by agents as well.

It made the process a whole lot more streamlined, as there were fewer jobs that I was now considering. And now when my phone rang and an agent was not the other end, if it wasn't a convenient time, I stopped trying to accommodate them, and just told them to call back later.

Not least because most of them were quite rude anyway.

They would all open by asking if you were still looking for work. But rather than following that up by asking whether you'd like their help or not, they'd just continue their line of questioning:

"So tell me about your experience in..."

Fuck off cunt-face, I'm having lunch. Call back later.

I also became a bit more choosy in the application processes that I was willing to go through.

As an example, I sent-off a fleeting application to Google one day, and their application form literally said 'We believe in letting your work speak for itself, but if you do want to add a cover letter, write it here.' Other than that, they just wanted a link to my projects.

Yes. That's my kind of company.

I stopped really bother with companies that wanted a copy of my CV, but then for me to fill-out separate, rather time consuming forms, listing all the details that were already on my CV.

Why do I have to look-up the dates and details of my education and previous employment, and enter them into this badly-made form, when they're all on my CV already?

I've got enough to do, you guys can go fuck yourselves as well.

In an age where portfolio is king, I took this approach to mean that the company was out of touch and not worth my time.

I'd been told by the company that I'd interviewed with on Tuesday, that they'd contact me by the end of Thursday.

I wanted this job; everything felt right about it. And although I was allowing myself to dream, I definitely wasn't getting carried away, because I didn't feel like I'd shown my best at the interview.

I'd spent most of the day today completing the coding challenge for a company in Manchester, and had just set-up an interview with them, so I certainly wasn't allowing the remote possibility of this job get in the way of the task at hand.

But a man can still dream.

In the contacts list on my phone, I'd added a picture of the CTO of this company that I'd had the in-person interview with. So when my phone rang, his face dominated the entire screen.

'Oh fuck,' I thought to myself.

I took a deep breath, and then I pressed answer on the TouchBar on my MacBook.


The call went on for about fifteen minutes.

I was the only person in the house at that moment, and once I hung-up, I stood-up and took a couple of steps onto the camping mat that was on the floor behind me, which I'd used for a workout earlier.

I dropped to my knees, looked-up towards the ceiling, stretched-out my arms, and let-out this primal scream.

He'd offered me the job. It was perfect for what I was looking for.

A salary at the upper-end of the range that I was hoping of getting, three months paid training before starting properly. They'd even buy me a new MacBook to work on.

And in that one moment, it was like this huge release.

For three and a half months since starting the bootcamp, my goal had been... I need to learn enough and improve myself enough, that I can get a job and make a living from coding.

Some days I'd spent sixteen hours in front of my laptop in pursuit of that.

For three and a half months it had been my only focus, and now, suddenly, in that one moment, it all became worth it.

Every second sat frustrated staring at my screen, every moment in front of my laptop where I could have been relaxing, or watching TV, or playing video games, or exercising, or socialising, or anything else.

Every moment sacrificed, every penny spent on the bootcamp, the risk I'd taken by leaving my job and my apartment and my entire life in Bangkok, it all became worth it. And for a few minutes, I allowed myself to enjoy it, and to appreciate what I'd been able to accomplish.

One of the things that the CTO, my new boss, had said to me on the phone, was that I'd been able to do things in the interview that people with six months experience working as developers couldn't do.

And I did have to remind myself that hey, it was only fourteen weeks ago that I started this bootcamp. And in those fourteen weeks, I have gone from nothing, to something.

It was January 12th 2018 that I bought my MacBook.

Now it was January 10th 2019; 364 days later.

Try telling me now that it wasn't a good purchase.

I bought this MacBook to try teaching myself to make iPhone apps.

That led to falling in love with programming. That led to quitting my job and going to a coding bootcamp. And that led to where I am now... an employed developer.

Wow, it sounds weird to even say it.

He told me that they like to have new employees start on a Friday, because the first day can be a little overwhelming, so they get the weekend to recover, but other than that, it's really up to me to choose my own start date.

"Fuck it," I said, "I'll start next Friday."

And that was it.

For all my fears about how long this was going to take, and about the struggles of tech interviews, I needed just one.

It was still less than a month after sending-off my first application, and had there not been two dead-weeks for Christmas, it might have gone a lot quicker.

The only downside was that I'd put myself out there a much as possible in terms of finding a job.

I was getting dozens of emails a day from job boards, my CV was everywhere, so my phone was ringing endlessly with recruiters. I had phone interviews set-up, I had pending applications galore. And suddenly... oh shit, now I've got to reel it all back in again.

Being as cautious as I am, I wasn't going to take anything for granted until the ink was dry on a contract, as up until now, I'd only had a verbal and an email offer of a job; the contract was yet to be drawn-up.

I assumed that it would just be a formality, but just to be safe, I cancelled only my immediate engagements. For everything else... let's wait until the contract's signed.

With that done, it would have been nice to relax for a few days, but the genius that I am had without thinking, set a start date of a week later so... fuck, I've got to find an apartment within the next week, otherwise I'll be trying to do so whilst working everyday. So I wasted no time in getting on with that.

Based on my experience of apartment-hunting in Bangkok, I assumed this would be the easier part of this process.

I assumed wrong.

At the time that I was apartment-hunting in Bangkok, there was just one MRT line and two sky-train lines.

With traffic the way that it is in Bangkok, they're the only reliable way of getting around. And to save changing trains, I just looked for places that were an easy walk from the line that I'd be working on, which both times was the MRT line.

Then it was simply wanting to be as close to my work as possible, while getting some essential things like a kitchen, and on my second time living there, also being next to a park.

Seeing as there are only two worthwhile parks in Bangkok, and only one of them was anywhere near my work, it was pretty easy from the beginning to know where I wanted to live.

Bangkok is a very safe city, so you don't really have to consider the safety of an area when searching for a place.

London on the other hand, is just this rabbit hole of crap that you have to learn.

Some areas are nice, but others really don't feel safe. The cost of commuting has to be factored-in, such that if you're walking/cycling distance from work, you're going to save enough on transport that you can afford the rent on a nicer place.

Plus, there are so many underground lines that the entire expanse of the city is open to you, you've just got to make a call about where you want to be.

And how do you decide that?

Well that was the problem that I was having.

I wanted to be close to my work, just because an extra thirty minutes commuting in each direction every weekday adds up to five lost hours per week, or 260 lost hours per year (assuming that you don't take any holiday).

That's almost eleven full days spent commuting every year, and a thirty minute commute is conservative.

If you spend ninety-minutes commuting in each direction everyday, that's fifteen hours per week, or 780 hours per year.

32.5 days. More than a month.

More than one twelfth of your time each year would be spent commuting. What a waste.

I was very wary of that, but also became aware that the immediate area around my work wasn't very cheap. And the areas a little further out, weren't very nice.

To start with, I took a day to go on a bit of a scouting trip. Wandering around various areas of London to get a feel for them, although I found this to be a bit of a waste of time because London is so immediately changeable.

I could be on some fashionable, hipster street where even the cheaper apartments were double my budget. But then I'd walk one block and find myself on a council estate, hoping not to get stabbed.

It wasn't quite that bad, but you really would go from nice area, to dump, over such a small distance, that getting to know areas per se, was a waste because you'd actually need to know the exact street that an apartment was on.

That was on Saturday, so on Sunday I took a similar approach to apartment-hunting as I had to job hunting:

"Well, if I throw enough shit at this wall, something's bound to stick."

I figured that the more places I enquired about, the more likely it'd be that I'd come-up with something I liked so...

Yeah, I regretted that.

I'm not an especially sociable person at the best of times, and I'm not a fan of phone calls when they can be avoided.

We have email people, what do you need to call me for?

But my phone wouldn't stop ringing.

As well as estate agents, recruiters were back at work on what was now Monday. And after quietening down over the weekend, where I'd been lulled-into the subconscious belief that because I now had a job, recruiters would stop ringing my phone trying to find me one, they fought back with a vengeance.

I was still yet to receive a contract, so I was a little apprehensive about closing-off all employment avenues.

At one point a recruiter called me:

"Hi Jethro," he said as I was walking down the street, "I've found a great job for you, are you still looking?"

No, I've already found somewhere.

"Oh..." he sounded very disappointed. "I've just found a job that I think is perfect for you."

Umm... I'm not actually looking still.

"How much are they paying you at your new job, if you don't mind me asking?"

So I told him.

"Would you be interested in this job, if I told you that you'd make £15,000 more?" he asked.

Umm... not really.

With the struggles that I'd been having with finding a place to live, that kind of offer was rather enticing. If I could add more than £1,000 per month to my apartment budget, then that would change everything. But... no, I'm happy with the job that I've been offered.

At this stage, as long as I can survive comfortably, it's not about money. It's about being in a position where I can learn as much as possible. If I focus on that now, money will come later. I know that, because I've spent so much time trawling over the various job boards, and with two years experience and corresponding knowledge, I could double the salary I've currently been offered.

"Do you have my email address?" I asked him. "Why don't you send me the details by email."

Not because I was interested, rather to appease what sounded like a hurt puppy on the other end of the phone line.

He wasn't the only person to call or email me about jobs over the course of the day. In fact, by the time I got home, I had offers for two more in-person interviews, both in Bristol, from the phone interviews I'd had a week earlier.

And because I was yet to receive a contract from my new employers, I was having to drag all of this on.

Will you guys hurry up with this contract? I'm not willing to sign for an apartment, nor cancel my employment leads until I get one.

And where I'd been on this day, was up to north-east London to check-out an apartment, which kind of changed my perspective on this entire process.

The area that I saw this place in was a bit of a dump.

It didn't feel especially safe, the "estate agent" who showed it to me was wearing a sweater, jeans, and a skullcap, and didn't look like he'd showered for a while, and there were Orthodox Jews wandering around everywhere.

Where am I?

Everything about this area, from the lack of professionalism of the estate agent, to the state of the apartment itself, to the surrounding buildings, just said "don't live here."

In fact, the agent when I'd spoken to him earlier, had been adamant that I had to come at this exact time.

I'd tried to stall him a bit, because I was going from south-west to north-east London, and I didn't know how long it would take to get there.

Turns-out he'd been so desperate for this time-slot, because he was showing someone else the apartment at the same time as me. So there were two of us looking around it at once.

And it changed my whole perspective, because this was no more expensive than the flats in South-West London, that're actually nice.

And where as before, I'd been massively valuing the importance of a short commute, this kind of said to me that... actually, I'd be willing to commute for a month every year to live somewhere nice.

I started to think more about the niceness of the area I'd be living in, than its proximity to my job.

I decided that I needed to take a different approach.

Throwing shit at the wall just wasn't working for me for this endeavour.

So what do I want from the area that I live in?

I want it to be nice, to be modern, to be safe, to have groceries easily available nearby, to have somewhere nearby I can go running, and to be as close to my work as it can be while having all of those things.

And what do I want from an apartment?

I want it to also be nice, preferably modern, with one bedroom, a decent kitchen, and enough space in the living room that I can have a sofa that sits opposite my PS4 and future 50" TV.

Ok, so where is this perfect unicorn of an apartment in the perfect area that I seek?

I need to narrow it down, rather than just throwing shit.

My problem was that I couldn't afford the trendy areas, but didn't want to live in the shit areas. So what I needed, was trendy areas at shit area prices.

This article had crossed my screen several times over the last few days as I'd been researching London, but I hadn't paid too much attention to it. I didn't have much else to go on by now though, so ok, where do you say are the most affordable areas in London?

On this list, most places were such a commute from my job, that there'd be no advantage above finding a place in south-west London where I'm currently staying. Two places though, were just thirty minutes by public transport from one of the three stations that my work lies between.

Colindale (nope, I've never heard of it either), and Crystal Palace.

So before I went to bed that evening, I trawled through basically every decent-looking apartment in Colindale and Crystal Palace on the Internet, and fired-off emails to the various landlords and estate agents.

They all work nine-to-five, so when I woke-up the next morning, I knew it was just a case of waiting until 9am, and letting my phone ring.

The first person to call was an estate agent in Crystal Palace.

"Can you come and view the apartment this afternoon?" she asked.

"Sure," I responded.

My phone rang again shortly after with another agent in Crystal Palace.

"Well I've already got a viewing in the late afternoon," I told him. "Can you do early afternoon?"

Then just as I was getting ready to leave, Colindale called.

"I've already got viewings set-up for today," I said. "Can you do tomorrow?"

This wasn't really in the spirit of how I wanted to be spending my time.

I wanted to be coding everyday, and instead I was getting to know London better than I had in the rest of my years combined.

In the rush that was my morning, I also called my future boss to remind him that I was still waiting on a contract. He promised it (and delivered) by the end of the day, but at this moment in the morning, I still thought it unfair to leave the people who'd offered me in-person interviews, waiting in the wings, so I reluctantly cancelled them.

As this contract would be delivered to my inbox by the day's end, I later did deconstruct the entire job-hunting infrastructure that I'd spent so long building.

I unsubscribed from all the job boards that my inbox had been getting bombarded by, I changed the job-hunting status on any website that lets me have one.

The hunt was over.

Well the job hunt was over. As for the apartment hunt, this day proved far more successful than the one prior.

I got off the train at Crystal Palace station, and didn't immediately take to the area.

Although it felt safer than north-east London the day before, so that was something.

The first apartment that I saw was quite literally right next to the train station, although you had to go around in a big loop to actually make it to the front door.

And this agent was a bit more professional than the one I'd had a day earlier, in that he looked like he'd actually had a shower this week.

He was a really nice guy, and the apartment was... ok.

It was a safe enough looking building, but it was just kind of... rundown.

When I walked through the door, nothing said to me 'I want to live here.'

It was more... well I suppose it'd do as a last resort.

I wanted somewhere to get excited about living, and this just wasn't it.

As I'd arrived early, it was only just 1pm by now. My appointment with the next agent wasn't until 4:30pm, which was good, because it gave me a chance to get to know Crystal Palace.

I'd been to Crystal Palace football games a few times in my younger years, but that was as far as my knowledge of this area went. And I think that the stadium is rather a long way from the town anyway.

One keyword that I'd continually encountered when looking-up apartments in Crystal Palace, had been the Crystal Palace Triangle.

Every apartment wanted to seen as being in or near the Crystal Palace Triangle. It was the trendy area to be associated with.

Alright, so where is this triangle? Great, up this big hill.

So I wandered to the infamous Crystal Palace Triangle, named as such because the three one-way roads that comprise the high street, are shaped like a triangle.

And... alright, yeah, I do kind of like this.

It was kind of like it wasn't quite a trendy area yet, but it was halfway to becoming one.

Perhaps I'm biased, but I associate vegan food with an area being trendy, because it shows it as being in touch with what's actually happening in the world.

And this wasn't quite Canggu standards where every single restaurant had vegan offerings. In fact, it wasn't even Shoreditch, where some places did and there were a few dedicated vegan cafes.

It was a notch below both of them, but it was like some of the restaurants were just catching-on, and were offering one or two vegan things on the menu.

There were several places that I could go to get something to eat, which I did by getting a vegan sausage, lettuce and tomato sandwich in a cafe.

The Triangle also had a very large Sainsbury's, which was great to see.

Grocery shopping couldn't be any more convenient. And the views of Central London from up on this hill were quite immense.

Even though there were still a couple more hours before the next apartment viewing, I located the exact building, and it was on the Northern side of this triangle, in a really quite envious area.

The apartment looked great from the photos, and from the outside the building looked clean and secure, and so I already had pretty high hopes. And now I was hoping that it would be facing North for the wonderful views as well.

I was let-down in that final regard, it actually just looked back at the high street, but everything else about it was great.

It was the first place that I walked into where I was like... alright, fuck it, I want to live here.

To start with, the location was perfect even before I mention the decent-sized park nearby.

So can I go running here? Yes. Can I get to work in a timely manner? Yep, this place is less than five minutes from Crystal Palace station, which has regular trains taking less than thirty minutes to get to Shoreditch High Street.

Is the area safe?

It feels safe enough. Definitely better than where I'd been a day earlier.

I can easily get groceries here, I can get vegan food in the local cafes, it's... pretty modern.

Upcoming would perhaps be a more accurate way of describing it.

As for the apartment itself, the first thing to note was the sheer professionalism of the estate agent, compared to the ones I'd had dealings with earlier. This girl came prepared.

She had this nicely printed pack to give me, containing details about the property. She knew everything about it, she was dressed the part.

The agent's fees for this place were rather hefty, but she was definitely doing her best to earn them.

This place just felt... right.

It was a building with seven different apartments in, and to start with, the front door felt secure. That's important.

The room was on the third (top) floor, so that'd be good exercise, and it looked very clean and freshly decorated.

Unfortunately it was still occupied at this moment.

The tenants weren't home, but it did give me the opportunity to see how it would look, lived-in.

And unfortunately it was being offered unfurnished, because some of their stuff was rather nice. But it made it very easy to imagine living there.

And the good thing about my job hunt ending so quickly, was that I still had most of my war-chest leftover from that, which I could spend on furniture.

I've said for a long time, that in this pursuit of becoming a developer, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

I've meant that in many different ways, but not least in quality of life, including the quality of the place that I'll find myself living.

A place like this would be about as close to the kind of apartment that I had in Bangkok as I was going to get.

I could see myself sitting in that living room, watching my 50" TV, I could see myself sleeping in that bedroom. It just felt right.

It was the first place that I walked-into where I was just... alright, this is the one.

In the words of Bringham Young, this is the place.

My one pause for thought was that with it being occupied until next week, I couldn't scan it in its entirety for damage.

If I wanted to secure it, I'd need to do so with money. And although I probably would be willing to without seeing it empty... let's just take a night to think it over, and not do anything rash. I'll go and have a look at Colindale tomorrow morning, and then I'll make a decision.

So that's what I did, I got up the next day, and once again absconded across London, this time to Colindale.

London likes to think of itself as one of the modern cities of the world, but in the efficiency of things like apartment-hunting, it feels light-years behind Bangkok.

It's also behind Bangkok, in that you don't get 4G on the underground.

You can get wifi in the stations, but as soon as you're on a moving train, you're basically off the grid. You are on my cheap network anyway.

So as I got to Colindale, I had a voicemail message from a call that I'd missed while being underground, from the agent in Crystal Palace asking me to call her.

'Well, this call's going to go one of two ways,' I thought. Either she's ringing to sweeten the pot on the apartment I'd shown so much interest in the day before, or she's calling to tell me that someone else has taken it.

So I called her back.

"Ok, thanks for letting me know," I said.


I'd spent my entire morning fantasising about living in that room. Someone else had obviously had the same thoughts though, because they had put in an offer on that apartment.

As I asked her for clarity on exactly what that meant, she responded that "it's been taken off the market."


"Ok, thanks for letting me know."

Well... isn't this a shit start to the day? Let's hope Colindale comes up good.

I went straight to the room that I was seeing, and the estate agent today was a really nice guy. A bit of a South London geezer, you might say, but I enjoyed talking to him. And the room itself was beautiful.

Newly decorated, it still smelt of fresh paint, everything had been redone.

I didn't take to the building so much though.

As I was waiting for the agent to arrive, a woman walked-out, pushing a baby in a buggy while smoking a cigarette. As we were going into the room, a girl came-out from the room next door holding a baby.

Yeah, I don't want to live next to a baby. I do not need crying coming through my walls at all hours.

It was back in the realm of the first place I'd seen in Crystal Palace, where it was more... well I suppose it'd do as a last resort. But it wasn't "fuck I want to live here."

As for Colindale, I immediately likened it to communist China.

When I was living in China, I'd see these huge developments in areas that the government had decided people should be living in. But for whatever reason, the people never came, so you'd see these forests of deserted skyscrapers.

It wasn't quite that bad here, but Colindale had all these newly developed, modern buildings, most of which looked more or less empty.

There was a small Sainsbury's and a Costa Coffee, so it wasn't totally deserted. But it felt like it was going to be a really desirable place to live in two or three years from now. But if you lived there today, you'd be waiting for all the infrastructure to arrive to make your life easier.

Although my commute to work would be around the same, it felt like a step down from Crystal Palace.

Well... don't I feel like a nob for needing a day to think over the place I looked at yesterday.

Today is now Wednesday, and it is with regret the haste of which I volunteered to start work one week after the job was offered.

I start work in two days, and my chances of finding a new place to live in that time are now down to zero. And working five days per week from Monday onwards, what I was unable to do over the last five days, finding an apartment, will now be restricted to weekends.

In fact, I was rather hoping that I could spend my weekends coding, to make sure I'm on top of all that I'm learning at work. So I greatly misjudged how much time apartment-hunting would take, to great cost unfortunately.

I made the error of assuming that, seeing as it's only ever taken me twenty-four hours to find a place to live in Bangkok, that doing so in a week in London would be easy.

As I found-out the hard way, things are a little trickier over here. So this one's going to hang-over me.

As I'm now going to have to find a place to live while working full-time in a brand new industry, where my first three months are probationary, and my salary is going to get reassessed (and perhaps increased) after those three months, I could really use all the time I can muster, to focus on coding.


Well I fucked this one up.

It is what it is though. Compared to where I was when I wrote the last blog a couple of weeks ago, I can't complain that I'm now an employed software developer.

I thought that day may never come, so I suppose that it's all gravy from here.

For as long as this apartment hunt takes though, the ghost of Crystal Palace will haunt my mind.

If I'd just been a bit more decisive, I could have already secured my perfect place to live.