My Room Or Yours?
Most of us with brothers or sisters can relate to the feeling of freedom you get when you are finally old enough to have a room of your own. No longer having to listen to their music, watch their TV shows or sleep with the pillow over your head just to drown out their snoring! So why are so many people going back to room sharing as a way of living in their 20’s?
After a decade of rising prices buying a property has become a fading dream for many in their 20’s. Because so many have turned to the rental market landlords began to increase their rents, which created a boom in the flat-share market. Now even having a room to yourself is out of reach for many and they are turning to room-sharing.
Many property and social networking websites have seen a faster growth in room-sharing sections and postings than those for traditional rentals and flat-sharing. There is no doubt that many have been priced out of the traditional purchase and rental market, but another major factor in the growth of this sector is immigration.
Hundreds of thousands of European Union citizens every year come to the UK to live and work. In the last few years many have come from the former communist states that have recently been welcomed into the Union. Many head for the bright lights of London to seek their fortune. But with lower incomes and fewer savings than their British peers, affording somewhere to live within a commutable distance of work has necessitated this back to basics approach to co-habitation.
Now, sharing a room with a total stranger might not be for everyone, but if you need to live in the big city and you’ve a job that does not pay enough for you to afford a room of your own then there are a few rules that seem to be very important to follow:
Firstly, it’s all about respect. Much like all co-habitation arrangements, whether you’re co-buying, flat-sharing or room-sharing (and especially if you’re bed-sharing, yes there are some adverts out there looking for bed-sharers as well, in a totally residential capacity of course!) it’s all about respecting their space, even if in the case of room-sharing that’s quite restricted space. Having friends over? Let your roomy know about it in advance. Having your girl or boyfriend to stay? Give them time to buy ear plugs or arrange to stay with a friend overnight! OK, these are silly examples, but you get the general idea. With less space to call your own a person can become quite territorial, so it is essential that you counter the lack of space with an exaggeration of your natural polite respectful attitude towards others.
Most flat-sharing arrangements between strangers are formed from a small advert on a website or in a newspaper, a single meeting and a ‘gut feel’ about that person. I dare say it would be similar with room-sharing, but unless you already know the person or know people who know the person it might be sensible to take a little more time to get to know them first. Go for a drink with them and your other flat-mates, ask for references from previous landlords or roomies, and research whether you have mutual friends who could vouch for them. If you’re looking to move into a room-share then it is also essential that you are prepared to be open and honest about yourself and offer whatever peace of mind they might ask for because sharing your space with anyone, especially in such close quarters as room-sharing can be a daunting prospect.
I have to say that I hope room-sharing does not become socially acceptable on a wide scale. I feel it is a step too far for people to be forced into youth hostel style living in the long term as their only way of affording where they have to live. We all need our private space, whether that space is afforded by our homes or just a room in a shared property. But for room-sharing to be considered acceptable for anything other than a short term solution to extreme circumstances would mean that the British property market was not only in dire straights, but beyond that so far as to be worrying.