The Unexpected Reality of House Hunting
Once again I am on the lookout for a new place to live. And, as before, it seems that the cost of living in London continues to rise, faster than a cheetah on steroids. A classic case of supply and demand. Or just plain greed. But no matter, armed with the knowledge that I will have to pay at least £700 per month for a flat that makes the homes in Hobbiton look spacious, I recently began the painstaking search for a new place to call…
the money pit home.
But of course, all is not as it appears. What looks like a value-for-money, too-good-to-be-missed dream home, often turns out to be something quite different. I try to look for the positives, I really do. I was shown around a tiny cosy studio flat
next to an intersection with good transport links. It was warm and newly re-decorated. Of course, the heat may have been generated by the neighbour’s alarming habit of burning his rubbish, and the paint job required to cover the blood splatters, but hey, every place has a history, right?
I was just thinking that it may be worth considering. There seemed to be plenty of storage space. I couldn’t wait to see the kitchen. Then the agent opened a cupboard door… “Here is the kitchen” he declared triumphantly, as if showing me into the business end of Claridge’s restaurant. It was suitable only for Alice in Wonderland or that guy who plays Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies.
Another flat that I was shown around was on the market for a bargain price. Strangely, the agent was showing me around at the same time as a girl. Ah, competition! Or not… On the plus side, it was top floor (‘penthouse’), and with few neighbours (‘exclusive’). But, in an attempt to make it a self-contained ‘studio’ flat, the landlord had plonked a shower cubicle in the corner of the room, without even bothering to tile around it! Plus, it was raised, so I would have had to remove a ceiling tile to fit in to it… And I can only imagine the damp problems that would be caused by not having a separate shower facility.
Then the girl who was looking around noticed a slight problem. There was no cooker. Now, I’m no great cook, but I do require a little more than two hobs to create edible dishes. Next!
The last place to view was a shared house. There seemed to be a decent living space, the bedroom was adequate, and the housemates probably only had minor criminal convictions. All good so far. The agent showed me into the well equipped kitchen. There was a curtain drawn across half of the space. Wow, there must be a generous dining space there! I asked to take a look. Obediently, the agent drew back the curtain to reveal… a toilet and sink. You’re having a laugh!
There are so many issues that I have with this. Admittedly, I don’t always keep the closest eye on the latest technological advances with curtains, but I’m quite sure that it’s impossible to lock one. And how exactly are you supposed to time your usage with an empty kitchen? If you need to considerably ‘lighten the load’, should you wait for someone to cook a curry with extra garlic, just in case? Then you would experience an authentic vindapoo. Let’s face it, there are some sights and sounds that you just don’t want to experience.
Before you ask… yes, I am still looking. I don’t have terribly high standards, but I draw the line at places with cupboard-kitchens, steam-bedrooms and kitchen-toilet combos. Have any of you experienced similar houses of horror?