Is room-sharing the new flat-sharing?

Like when you had to share with your sibling. Only now you're an adult and you're paying for the privilege

Like when you had to share with your sibling. Only now you’re an adult and you’re paying for the privilege

Just when you thought sharing a tin-box ‘flat’ with five of your closest friends (and if they weren’t close before, they certainly are now) was the ultimate in low cost living – a new meaning for co-habitation has been defined.

Room sharing. Not with your current squeeze but with a completely platonic friend or (no we’re not joking) a stranger.

The eponymous SpareRoom website that has made renting so much easier for so many, has seen a 71 % increase in searches for bedroom shares over the last two years.

The harsh reality of rising rent prices means that the sanctity of your own space – a room to call one’s own – is being forfeited. Few people would choose to share a room with a complete stranger (hell, squatters get more say in who they lie next to at night) but if young people are able to afford to live in a city that has job prospects, then this may be the only answer.

Roost spoke to Simon Roach, who room shared with friend Louis Reader for nine months, about the reality of sharing a bed with your mate – and paying for the privilege.

Faced with an increase in rent on the three bedroom flat he share in Hackney with two other friends, Roach decided to rent his room out to friend Reader to help with the bills.

“It made sense – paying half the rent for what seemed like a relative inconvenience meant that I could stay living in an area that I liked, in a decent flat and not get into debt,” says Roach.

Roach admits that it was not an ideal situation but it wasn’t intended as a long term solution.

“A lot of my mates were quite surprised when I told them about it – they couldn’t understand how I would be prepared to sacrifice my own bed to stay in a decent area,” says Roach. “But the reality of it wasn’t too bad.”

He would, however, draw the line at sharing with a complete stranger.

“As Louis and I had travelled together we kind of knew each others weird habits, but if it was someone I didn’t know at all – that would be weird.”

What started as a short-term solution, turned into a nine-month love in – and they managed to stay friends at the end of it. Roach got promoted and moved into a different flat up the road in Clapton – with a room all to himself. But for many Londoners, room sharing is still their only option.

With the result of the General Election now cemented, let’s see how another term of empty promises about ‘affordable’ housing will impact on the capital’s renting generation.


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