I may have to make "over-optimistic" my middle name. When I headed back to the UK at the beginning of July, I sincerely believed that 6 or 7 weeks would be enough to sort out my flat (my life?), rent it out and head back to Madrid.
When I got back to my flat, I realised that I may have been wearing rose-tinted nostalgia glasses. My poor flat revealed itself in all its shabbiness. I'd been away 16 months, with only a couple of brief trips back, both of which were filled with stuff that didn't really allow me to stand back and take a good look at my (or rather the mortgage company's) little piece of Brighton.
This time was different. Andy, and his belongings, were gone, leaving me to see the somewhat dilapidated truth. My flat was tired, a little sad looking and full of, well, tat!
A visit from a local rental agent brought it home with a bang. He seemed optimistic that I'd be able to rent it out pretty quickly provided a few things were dealt with. And then began the list:
New living room carpet (yes, I can't disagree with him there)
Replace cracked sash window panes (at least he didn't suggest replacing the entire windows and sash mechanisms)
Fire door to the kitchen (to comply with Health and Safety regulations)
Decent Chubb lock to my front door.
Replacement locks on all windows (not essential but certainly recommended)
On top of that, I'd already discovered that these days, in order to rent a property out and eliminate the risk of being sued by a tenant, landlords have to have certain checks done:
Gas safety certificate for boiler and gas hob (£35)
Energy efficiency certificate (£32)
Electrical safety certificate - check of all sockets and any electrical items to be left in the flat (£150!!)
All soft furnishings have to have the label showing that they're fire retardant still attached. Sofa - check. Mattress - yup. Futon mattress - nope. Throw cushions - a couple, yes, the rest, no. Plus the various bits of painting that I already knew I needed to do.
By the time I'd found all this out, there was only about five weeks left til my supposed return to Madrid and I was faced with this daunting list and not enough time or money to do it.
Cue slight panic followed by total rethink! In order to do everything necessary to the flat, I need money. Having pretty much gone through all the cash I brought back from Spain (which amounted to a paltry £400), the proceeds of two car boot sales and even spent (in advance) my payments for some CDs/DVDs that I've sent off to a company that buys them, as well as some audio typing work I've done, I don't have anywhere near enough to cover the costs of sorting the flat out.
So I had to bite the bullet and accept that I'll have to hang on here long enough to get a job, earn enough to do the work on the flat, and have enough to cover rent/deposit in Madrid.
The upshot is - I'm staying right here until early January. Being more inclined to boil my head in oil than return to the Civil Service (despite only being on a career break), I'm now job hunting. I've registered with temp agencies and am scanning Gumtree, the Friday-Ad and anywhere else I can think of for four months' earning potential. If anyone knows of a job going in central Brighton, let me know!!