It seemed like a great idea at the time. I was to take a much-needed sabbatical from work, escaping from the rat race for 6 weeks or so whilst simultaneously moving out of my house and storing away my belongings to save myself several hundred pounds in rent and bills. That should mean that the effective cost of the holiday was much less than if I had kept the room. Genius.
I left for India seemingly safe in the knowledge that, although I’d heard on the news that rental costs had increased, it had never taken me too long to find somewhere to live in London in the past. How hard could it be? I had allowed myself a few days to find somewhere upon my return.
The first problem that I encountered was a missed return flight, meaning that my first day of house hunting was wiped off due to the delay. Whoops! When I finally made it back to the Big Smoke, I checked myself in to the cheapest ‘hotel’ that I could find, my room coming complete with a water leak and associated small stream running through the bathroom. It was also the first bathroom in which I had hit my head on the ceiling whilst taking a shower. God that hurt!
And so to the accommodation search, which I feel slightly bitter that I am forced to endure, since I earn good money and can afford a mortgage, if only the banks climbed down from their piles of public bail-out money to lend to people, without the need for a massive deposit that few can afford. What was this I heard on the news about the government forcing banks to lend more money? Yeah, sure they will.
It seems that in ‘Times of Austerity‘ (term copyright of UK media hacks) it is the landlords and letting agencies who reap the rewards, greedily recognising that demand outstrips supply and watching with glee as rental charges sky-rocket. I viewed two ‘studio’ flats which were advertised for £600 per month. One had no oven and a shower cubicle in the corner of the room which was only 6ft in height. I’m 6’4. In the other, the room was only as long as the bed, but at least I could open the window for extended leg room at night. You’ve got to think of the positives, right?
Houseshares are no better. The prospective housemates let 20 people view the property, before choosing to offer the room to a girl. Every time. That’s assuming that they haven’t already advertised the room as ‘for females only’. And who can blame them for going for the safe bet? Blatant sexism is seen as being perfectly reasonable behaviour.
As I hadn’t managed to find somewhere in the first three days, I was forced to move out of my hotel and into hostel accommodation, having to walk around London with my luggage, trying to find somewhere reasonable. I ended up staying in a dormitory above a massive live music pub called Hootananny in Brixton, South London. What a post-holiday comedown. But at least I get a 20% discount in the bar. Think positive.
It transpires that acquiring a half-decent studio flat would require monthly rent of at least £700. So that means an extra £2400 per year. Because of this, I need to work 13 months to earn the same as last year. But at least I saved £500 on my holiday…
This post would not have been possible without the assistance of the bankers who caused the economic meltdown, the incompetence of the UK government in dealing with the economy, and the greedy landlords and pond-life letting agencies. I thank you from the bottom of my beer glass.