About a month ago I set on a mission to find a room to rent in London. What could be easier right? According to the recent study, every sixth person desires to live and work in London and according to my own naked eye observation at least every second actually ends up pursuing this desire and clearly succeeds – judging from the population density on trains/buses/streets. Real estate business is thriving, the demand is high and the supply is most definitely not what one calls a scarcity.
In spite of all this and the fact that “every 3 minutes someone finds a flatmate“ (Spareroom, 2014, p. 1), that ‘someone’ definitely wasn’t me. In the course of this search I was confronted with following complications:
- The person behind the offer is not picking up the phone/ replying to my emails/ texts. (Oh if this was the biggest problem it’d be bliss and heaven – though still, if it happens every day, several times a day, for several weeks – it does not put a smile on your face.
- When a person actually does pick up the phone they either tell me they’re going to call me back because they’re busy at the moment (yeah, you’re right, they never call back) or I hear the usual: “sorry the room has already been taken“ – sometimes without that sorry part.
- When I actually get a positive answer and I get to arrange a viewing (yaay), they cancel the viewing at best an hour before it was supposed to take place, or at worst fifteen minutes before the viewing when I am already seated on an underground train on my way there saying “the room has already been taken“.
- The offer is a fraud (a brand new penthouse on Baker Street for 500 a month? Yeah very bloody likely).
- The room is beautiful but too expensive for me to afford – or cheap but a hell hole.
- The room is too expensive, but still a hell hole – which gives me the satisfaction when turning this offer down.
- The photos of the room are probably downloaded from google pics after typing in ‘beautiful and clean room’ or to a considerable extent photoshopped because after entering the house they really do NOT resemble the reality.
- The room is nice, but the house is owned by a chinese family of three packed in one room just to be able to let the other four rooms.
- The room is nice and clean but its size reminds me of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs at Dursleys’. And yeah, still expensive.
- Even the google maps failed to navigate me to the house address. (Yes that actually did happen!)
It has been a beautiful and not at all frustrating search. I only hope the damage on my mental health is not permanent.
After all this and after a great advice: “lower your expectations, increase your budget!“ I came to a conclusion that there is no golden mean when it comes to housing in London. Maybe there is, but you gotta be very lucky!
At last, I found my safe haven – its not perfect but it is a (temporary) home.