Renting in London is a very transient experience.
In the last three years I have discovered that moving in with other people is brilliant, but it basically puts you at the mercy of any life changes they wish to make – and visa versa.
People move abroad. Houses get sold. Boyfriends and girlfriends move in together. Relationships break up. Flats fall down. Marriage happens. A weekly game of Bin Jenga loses its appeal.
Despite all this, living with others continues to be your best option in a city where the average cost of owning your own place is £360,000. But beyond that, I’m no closer to knowing what the perfect recipe for a house or flat share actually is.
As I see it, you basically have three options.
Option 1: Set up a brand new flatshare from scratch
Do this, and you get to pick the housemates and the house, while discovering the joys of estate agents, hefty admin fees, leases and deposits. You will likely never meet the landlord; a resident of Bermuda with a penchant for armchairs, lighting cigars and laughing loudly at the little people, but you will soon learn through his loyal estate agent slaves (hair policy: upwards from face) that the value of repairs such as “walls need painting”, “toilet seat loose”, and “missing fridge shelf” is in the region of £1000. Any suggestion that they might not be will fall on profoundly deaf ears. Won’t it, Loft Lets?
Option 2: Live with the landlord
The live-in landlord arrangement means you will be free of lengthy tenancy agreements, fees and bills with your name on them. However, this can be at the expense of feeling a little bit like you’re paying to be a guest in someone else’s house. They set the rules, the lighting arrangements and the thermostat, you pay the mortgage. Mhhhrrrrr.
Option 3: Move in to an existing flat share
The happy medium, then, seems to be moving into a flat share that has already been set up. This involves scouring Spareroom, Gumtree and Into London or yelling on Facebook until someone deems you to be suitably “them”. It also tends to mean competing with the rest of London for the perfect room – a bit like X Factor for the homeless. You’ll step into a household with its own established routines and – in some cases – strict bathroom timings, but at least you’re all on equal footing when it comes to rent.
Having tried out option 1 and 2, this time I decided to try option 3, and took to Spareroom.com to browse what was on offer.
As ever, it was a fairly soul destroying way to spend a lunch time. Here are some of the ads I passed on.
1. Cell with a View
Inmates will be expected to water the Bonsai tree.
Peace and techno: two words that have always gone together so well.
3. MUST LIKE EXPERIENCE’S, CAPS LOCK AND EXPERIENCE’S
Everything is shared. Especially the experiences.
4. “Artist Warehouse”
Your bed is under the stairs, next to the dancing elephant.
5. Probably won’t love it.
On the flip side, the Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to give the flat a wide berth.
Even with the matching coffee, tea and sugar pots…I just…can’t…do…it.
6. Oh, wait, where’s the shower?
Ok, just checking. Nexxxxxt.
7. I don’t understand
I’ve stared at this picture for so long and I still can’t work out what’s going on here. And why it’s so dark.
8. Drunk kitchen
Always show your flat in the best possible blurred light.
I move into my new place in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I am making full use of one option that hasn’t been mentioned: number 4: live with your parents and a couple of labradors.
Zone 5, I am in you.
Are you flat hunting? Tell me your woes.