There are a lot of things you learn about a city when you're staying in a home and not in a hotel. I've learned that the eggs are found in the baking aisle of the supermarket and not in the refrigerated section and I've learned that, often, when you rent a flat (what the British call an apartment), it comes fully-furnished, often right down to the silverware!
I spend so much time fiddling with my home — debating new paint colors, perusing CraigsList for new furniture, carting stuff to the upholsterer — that I can't even imagine living in a space that wasn't filled with my own things, where each piece has a story, even if that story is "I found it on the street" or "I got it at Ikea".
Joanna Thornhill, whose home is featured in the first issue of Heart Home Magazine, is a study in how to work around this issue. She admits that it's frustrating but that's how it's always been done. When I mentioned that in the States your apartment comes empty (and, sometimes, in Los Angeles, without even a fridge or a stove!) to a group of London bloggers, there were stunned gasps all around. On one hand they were jealous (they can't wait to buy so they can truly make their homes their own); on the other hand, they were super curious (Where do you find furniture? What do you do with the furniture in your old place if it doesn't fit into your new place?). I'm stymied enough trying to choose a home based on the neighborhood, its proximity to my job or my social life and whether I can work the price into my budget without having to consider if I like how it's furnished. But, like small fridges and driving on the left side of the road and hanging out in a pub drinking beer, it's all in what you grew up with.
Now we're curious: what are the customs in the place you're living? Do you rent by the month, by the week, by the year? Did your home come furnished or unfurnished? How long is your rental agreement for and can you stay in your home if you're happy there?
Image: Joanna Thornhill's revamped space by Sarah Hogan