Today we are going to talk about house-sharing. I semi-share at the moment, living with my girlfriend and one of her friends in Leytonstone before we move into our own place in June.
Lesbians like me have a different concept of dating than straight couples. “Seeing how things go” does not really happen in our world.
For us, the average amount of time from kissing to cohabitation is about a month. After three months furniture, possessions and underwear become communal and within six months you own something significant together (such as a cat or a flat) and are probably getting married.
For everybody else, there’s Gumtree.
Unless you are living with a partner, super rich, or don’t mind living in a tiny studio apartment in zone 6, house-sharing is an essential part of London life.
Funnily enough, if you check the adverts on mysinglefriend.com and the adverts on Gumtree they are practically identical. After a good few years of house-sharing I have learned to de-code them:
Really into music
Will play it very loud at 2am on a school night
My snake will bite you
Looking for someone independent
I never want to see you in the bathroom, lounge or kitchen unless absolutely necessary
My home is really important to me and I am looking for a friend to share with
I will make you feel terrible every time you go out and don’t invite me
Never does any cleaning
And that old chestnut:
I like the odd wild night out but I am just as happy staying in with a glass of wine and a film
Could mean anything really.
It can be absolutely brilliant. Most of my rented rooms were all-inclusive so I never had to worry about bills or sorting out my own wireless broadband. As a single person, I found it hard to feel lonely in a busy house-share. There was always someone to talk to and often we went out for drinks.
But of course there is mess, noise and privacy issues to deal with. The time I was most outraged with sharing was when I lived in a fun but very cramped five bedroom, one bathroom house in Central London.
One of my roomies had a friend to stay for two weeks. Let me point out this girl was here travelling and didn’t live or work in London so had no need to get up in the morning.
A shower rota was necessary in our busy home and I would patiently wait my turn at 7am each morning. I was third in line, and had a 15 minute slot before my roomie needed to get in at 7.15.
My bedroom was furthest from the bathroom so I had to wait in the corridor in my towel for the second person to come out. Every morning this visitor would see me waiting and every time she would run into the bathroom before me! But this wasn’t for a quick wee, she would be in there for 45 minutes, and then (this was really galling) she would come out fully dressed with her makeup on!
The first time I knocked on the door politely, the second time I banged furiously, the third time she did it I yelled at her that she was a selfish skanky bitch and how dare she think she could hog our bathroom every morning when we all needed to get ready for work. I am not a morning person at the best of times, but lack of shower etiquette can really make me mad!
And talking of skanks, another pet peeve about house-sharing is the boyfriend / girlfriend of the house mate who doesn’t pay rent but who is there all the time and think they own the place. They control the TV remote, bitch about the washing up, drink your wine while you are out and generally make you feel as though you are in the way.
The ideal situation is actually being the girlfriend of a housemate, therefore being out of your own house enough that you don’t get annoyed with your own housemates while living it up round someone else’s.
I actually met my girlfriend through house-sharing. She wasn’t my housemate but she was my girlfriend’s housemate. Scandalous! It was a bit complicated for a while, my friends called it “Lezzadale Farm” but all is fine now. My girlfriend and my ex are off out for lunch together today, everyone keep your fingers crossed that no fighting or hair pulling occurs.
Here are my personal pros and cons of London house-sharing:
The more people you share with the better location you can get. The Central London house-share (the one with only one shower) was next door to Radio 1 and minutes from Oxford Circus and Regents Park. I saw celebrities nearly every day and I felt like Carrie Bradshaw.
At its busiest, I shared that small flat with 11 other humans and approximately 300 mice.
Lifelong friends have been formed that began as roomies. My favourite one moved home to Australia (boo hoo) but I hope to see her again one day.
Close proximity, thin walls and too much time together can really kill off decent friendships. Even for the most tolerant, you really don’t need to hear your mate wanking, having sex or having a massive row with his girlfriend.
If you get in late and are a little tipsy, there is somebody to chat to and often they have a bit of leftover dinner on offer.
Nobody ever cleans the bathroom, buys milk or puts the rubbish out apart from you.
Your housemate has a massive TV
Sky Sports is on 24 / 7
Only three months to go before I never house-share again… Blimey!
I am excited about it being just me, my girl and the cat but I have very fond memories of all my flat-shares… so a big shout out to all my ex-roomies who may be reading this: Thanks guys for the movie nights, drinks, chats and leftover dinner – I had a blast!