Like most people in the 21-30 age bracket who live in a big city and favour alcohol and shoes over mortgages and savings accounts, I live in a house share. Whilst it’s not my first choice of accommodation, until I earn double what I’m on now or pop out a kid and throw myself on the mercy of the council (don’t do that) this is as good as it gets for now. The Office for National Statistics states ‘In 2013, over 3.3 million adults in the UK aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents. That is 26% of this age group.’ Shocking? Read more here. I truly understand why people choose to live with their parents well into their thirties, entering the world of independent living is exhilarating but the expense, responsibility and frustration of living with strangers is not something you account for in the excitement of having your very own 70 sq. foot kingdom.
With websites such as Spareroom and Easy Roommate bursting with fun, quirky ads promising your dream living space making it sound like some sort of awesome adventure, the reality is somewhat different as you’re faced with constant mould, bullshit and weirdos.
1 – Finding something half decent is a full time job. You’ll trawl through hundreds of ads only to discover your ‘perfect’ flat is on a big crack fuelled council estate, nothing like the pictures or just a big fat pile of disappointment. Finding a flat share is a lot like dating, even when you’ve found ‘the one’ you’ll probably get rejected and have to start the whole process again. Soz.
2 – There’s a 99% chance your landlord will be a dick. Whole of South London had sex on your bed and now the mattress is FUBAR and causing you back pain? He doesn’t care. House crawling alive with ants because your housemates are dirty bastards who don’t clean up after themselves? He doesn’t care. Boiler broken causing you to wash your hair in freezing cold water? Guess what, he doesn’t care. But be more than a few hours late with your rent that month and he’ll be all up in your tits like the bone that pops out of a cheap bra. If you have a good landlord, worship him. Worship him good and you’ll probably get a few months rent free – top tip.
3 – At least one of your housemates will be a dick. Plates constantly piled up in the sink, mess and crap everywhere, loud music playing at all hours of the night, mid-week parties, their weird, drunk friends waking up on your sofa most mornings, hair down the plughole, and giant floaters in the communal bathroom. There’s always one and they never take out the bin.
4 – You’ll turn into your mother within 24 hours. All those times your mum bitched at you to not leave crumbs on the side, to clean up after yourself, not leave dirty dishes in the sink and to plump the pillows? You thought she was batshit crazy and overly houseproud… Nope, those are just the basics and you’ll be bitching at your housemates for the exact same things.
5 – You can’t really make anything your own. Your dick landlord will probably have strict rules in place about you not being able to make holes in the wall and if you accepted the room as fully furnished you’re stuck with that fugly sofa and dodgy bedside lamp that came straight out of Guest House Paradiso.
6 – If you’re lucky you’ll be allocated your own shelf in the fridge and freezer and if you’re really lucky you’ll get your very own cupboard. All sounds very civilized but one day you’ll come home from work with an intense craving for those Sainsbury’s Basics chicken nuggets you bought with the last dregs of your pay packet only to pull out a bag of ice crystals and breadcrumbs. Apparently it’s an unwritten rule that washing power and milk are a free for all and get delivered by the washing powder and milk fairy.
7 – The kitchen will almost always be too filthy for you to cook in so you’ll eat on your bed most of the time. Your housemates will use every pot, pan, plate and cup so even if you want to cook some Supernoodles you’ll have to wash something up. You grit your teeth and do it the first 5 times but after that you’ll want to kill someone and refuse to do it any more, you’ll either starve out of principal or order something from Just Eat if you’re feeling flush.
8 – You’ll become all too familiar with the bowel movements of your roommates as you all fall into a bathroom routine and playing the delightful game of spot the skidmark as you brush your teeth will become the highlight of your morning. Fun times.
9 – Your housemates will shaft you with the rent and bill splits any way they can. If your home is being rented out as a whole unit and not room by room, the current housemates can divide up the rent so you’re paying more than them. Sneaky bastards. Also, in a lot of houseshares there’s 1 person who pays all the bills/rent and you pay them… This means you have no idea just how much the bills are and they can pocket the rest.
10 – …but some of your housemates will turn into lifelong friends who will see you through the dark days, share your hangovers, sync with your cycle and be there at the end of a long day with a glass of cheap wine. They’ll eat your disgusting attempts at a Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal and join you on many a drunken impromptu escapade, such as chasing someone down the road with a screwdriver after they piss through your letterbox and you’ll wonder where they’ve been all your life.
It’s not all bad, I promise.