Flat hunting
I believe we, time-hungry Londoners, have taken the fun out of an essential part of urban life. Looking for a new flat really should be an exciting life event. In London, it is not.

The hunt usually begins online. With hundreds of estate agents and flat listing websites competing for attention, you’re faced with an overwhelming amount of choice. Less so in suitable flats, more so in ways of going about the flat search.

What seems like a bookmark-able shortcut through the property jungle really is an overly formalised convention. We place our domestic wish list into the hands (or algorithms) of a third party, hoping that nifty filters and savvy agents will increase our chances of finding our next home, and fast! Despite all our efforts, the success of our flat hunt is down to perseverance and pure luck. And we all know it.

Before I moved to London, I lived in Brussels. There, hunting for a flat is simple leg work. Walk through the streets of your favourite neighbourhood and you will find bright orange ads with the details of the flat and the owner’s mobile number taped to front doors.

© Télébruxelles

No estate agents. No websites. No scams. Telling the good from the bad is easy. The neighbourhood and the state of the building will tell their own story. Noisy road and bin bags stacked on the front steps – keep walking. Flower pots and children playing outside –go get it! It really is that simple.

In the eyes of the London flat hunter, the Brussels system may lack a certain preference-filtered sophistication. But it’s hugely effective in its simplicity. And it’s fun. I found my genuinely ‘refurbished, spacious and bright' flat during the course of an afternoon walk. I also found my new favourite cafe, a second hand shop full of treasures waiting to be discovered and a quiet courtyard where I would spend many hours reading. Google Street View can’t beat that!

I think we should rethink how property is advertised in our city. If we cleared half a day in our busy agendas to go on an actual flat hunt, who knows what other urban gems we might stumble on.

Kerstin Neurohr