Britain spends more money on renting than anywhere else in Europe, but I often wonder why are we pouring our precious hard earned pounds into renting recycle bins? In reality, we are living in claustrophobic hamster cages, zipping through the plastic tubes at crazy hours of the day and running all night on the wheels of this city. I get it – moving to London within the realms of Zones 1 to 3 is often an evil job related necessity. Unless your parents are willing to host you for another year of 100% disposable income and 95% fridge raiding, or you still have an operating account with the Bank of Dad, then you will inevitably spend 60% of your salary to put a roof over your head.

London creates more jobs than anywhere else in the world, so where the hell are all of the affordable flats for this abundance of workers? There are 24 out of 179 London postcodes with renting rates under £1000 a month, and according to government data the median monthly rent in London is now £1400. For graduates with 1- 4 years of experience here, the average wage is £27,000, which is £21,500 post tax, leaving a survival rate of £1790 a month. Not even a budgeting app can sort this scam situation out, you either have to cut social or cut food. We are dubbed “generation rent,” and surely this is because we are the first generation of fools to agree to a “sign on fee,” on top of 6 weeks rent on the table? At what point does this problem turn to a crisis? Surely all the landlords are sipping Grey Goose in their Ferraris wiping their asses with £100 notes? Its Robinsons and Glens in the Uber Pool for us rent rats.

The worst thing about the rent rat crisis is that housing is determining our careers and our futures. A commonly held and widely shared belief is that if you want to do film production, you cannot live by the Marble Arches, because you simply cannot afford it. If you want to design Snapchat filters or develop JavaScript for a start up, you can forget Angel, and Kensington, and Battersea or Vauxhall. Unless Bank of Dad is stepping up to the job, you can thoroughly enjoy Zone 6 and let your creative juices flow free. Rents are rising above and beyond affordability levels, as we sink deeper and deeper into the over draft. The corporations we slave for are selfishly not offering housing or mortgage discounts, and now Brexit is a reality, what is keeping us in these hamster cages? At what point do we all move to Barcelona and enjoy a 3 bedroom flat on the beach for £345 a month with all bills included?

For foreigners like myself, I was at first immune to the various London landlord terminology phrases of bullshit. Studio flats sound hip and trendy, chic, maybe envisioning a spacious white penthouse suite with some landscape artwork and dangling lightbulbs. Lots of windows, a large black leather sofa, some chilled out sexy vibes- tropical house in the background. No, this is incorrect. A studio flat translates to a shoebox. It means some horrendous human being has found a floor space and piping that is capable of fitting a hob, a sink, a wardrobe, and a “Queen” (not King) mattress all into one room. The worst part about this, is that they are charging poor rent rats around £150 – £200 a week, to suffocate alone in the cage of studio doom. Another key “phrase” that is being thrown around is “up and coming areas.” When you hear up and coming you might think, lots of new innovative businesses around some lush green suburban parks with maybe some farmers markets and hipster coffee trucks and maybe even a dairy free, gluten free ice cream van? Again, I was wrong. Up and coming translates into the sticks. Think prostitutes, a 3-hour commute, couple of gangs, and no ice cream truck in sight. Is that what’s trendy these days?

Time is truly ticking for how long we can all survive in these cages and drown in debt. Unless my employers, my parents or the government steps up to make renting under 50% of my salary I will be making for the Great Escape, to Heathrow Airport.


Megan Louise Armour

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