The Highs And Lows Of Looking For Somewhere New To Rent In 2017

A week in the life of a Facebook house sharing group.

The Highs And Lows Of Looking For Somewhere New To Rent

by Gabby King |
Published on

Autumn turns to winter and winter flirts with spring. Before you know it the lease on your rented house is up and it’s time to move…again! Time to fill up your laundry bags with all the crap you haven’t touched since you unpacked them and move on to pastures new.

At first, it can feel quite exciting, you maybe envisage yourself being like Carrie Bradshaw when she moves from her ‘modest’ studio apartment to the luxury penthouse on the Upper East Side. Her poky walk in wardrobe upgraded to one big enough to park a car in.

This excitement quickly passes when you realise that, for you, the luxury of having any clothes storage for you is actually going to be thing of the past. It becomes apparent that you may have to move into a guinea pig hutch in Zone 4, don’t worry though because that hutch is only £700pm (including Wi-Fi!).

A young person who actually owns property in London is the stuff of history as now you’re more likely to run into a Dodo inside the M25. With so many of us having to move so regularly, Facebook groups such as South East London Housemate Coop are crucial to our survival. This group is a godsend. It allows people to advertise rooms for free without paying ad fees or using estate agents (who charge you for borrowing their Bic Biro). It lets you scroll through ads and get in touch with people to arrange viewings or buddy up. The downside is that the group has nearly 23,000 members, a handful of ads each day and 50% of them out of your budget. If you thought spending 50% of your income on rent was shit, those were the good old days. It’s now more like 60 or 70%. While renting costs go up and up your income stays exactly the same.

Despite everything being wrong with the housing situation in London, we are all still holding onto the dream, sacrificing and scrimping everything for that zone 2 postcode.

It all starts with a comment

You've seen a post that interests you. A Room going with four walls a double bed and a cat. You want to leave a comment that gets you noticed right. Something along the lines of 'Cool room Lucy, I love cats! I've DMd you' (selection of emojis presenting you as a fun person but not overtop) also tagging that person for high impact. Of course, your comment goes behind the other 19 people who have already commented…

Get personal dig deep

Now for that private message. Time to get personal. Who are you? And why would they want to live with you? It's like sharing a CV of your personality. Instead of bullshitting about excel it's your passion for exercise and home cooking.

For example:

‘Hi there,

What a lovely a room! Would love the opportunity to arrange a viewing.

A bit about me, I love nothing more than home cooking and relaxing in the evening to read to book. I enjoy spending time with friends and am very clean and tidy.’

What you really mean is:

‘Hi there,

I’m DESPERATE for a room!!!! Please let me move in!!

About me, I can cook but prefer not to. I watch a lot of Reality TV and at the weekends I binge drink, often coming home in the early hours and eating a whole jar of peanut butter. I’m fairly tidy but will put of cleaning the bathroom for as long as possible.’

My advice? Stick with the first one. Honesty doesn't get you what you want in this game. The majority of the heartfelt messages you send out will never even get read. Don't take it personally.

When the tick finally turns blue

At last someone has acknowledged your cries – the housemate equivalent of getting through to Boot camp on X factor. There’s still a way to go, but a great start. Things can really shift up a gear at this stage; you've probably stalked their Facebook a few times by now, trying to work out if they could be your new best friend, or just a housemate. You realize you don't really care…it's a room with a roof in your budget. Then, out of nowhere they'll ask if you can view the room this Thursday!! You are smashing through the rounds. Bring on the judge’s houses.


I know. Viewings are a little bit nerve wracking, aren’t they? I like to dig out a clean shirt and wear nice perfume. Making them think I smell lovely and couldn’t possibly ever do anything bad. I tend to complement everything. ‘Wow I love the high ceilings, cool door and curtains. Oooo is that a hedgehog cheese grater’ and so on and so on. This nervous chat isn’t great; I would recommend trying to rein it in as much as possible.

Another thing to be wary of are group viewings. This is where they quite literally make all the desperate house hunters hang out together in the very bedroom they are trying to bag. In your head, you have already moved in. You’re wondering where you might hang your mirror and how great your curtains will look on the bay window. There’s a chirpy couple bonding with one of the current housemates about his LOST box sets. ‘Fuck them!’ you think, ‘and fuck me for never watching LOST. FFS.’

A couple of painful slow days will pass; you check your phone every 5 minutes like a teenager with a crush. Eventually, they respond. Opening this correspondence is a throw back to opening your GCSE results in the school canteen, you thought failing your GCSEs would leave you poor and homeless, reality check! Failing the South East London housemates bush tucker trial will actually leave you homeless!

And more often than not the results are a big fat ‘thanks, but no thank you’.

The Aftermath

At first, you might feel anger. Something along the lines of ‘screw them I didn't want to live in their hovel house in the arse end of nowhere watching LOST on repeat anyway.’

This will be followed by sadness - calling your mate and telling them you've had enough, you’re moving to Wales to live in a caravan and work on a turkey farm.

The dust will settle and I urge you to rethink your turkey farm prospects. Going against the grain isn't really you anyway.

You mop up your tears and log back onto the Group to start again.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

The Government Finally Admits That We'll Be Renting Forever

Is The Way We Rent In The UK About To Change Forever?

When Living With Your Parents Becomes The Houseshare From Hell

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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