You can't afford to rent but can't live at home? Welcome to Generation Renters! It's rubbish, says Alexandra Jones, mostly because flatmates can be a real pain..."Hey, I've transferred you the money for the gas bill. BTW, I'm moving out in two weeks," was the early morning text from a flatmate that put me right off my morning porridge. Two. Weeks.
I went through all the usual stages of grief:
1. Denial: No, he can't have meant two weeks. As in, the week after the week coming up next. Just, no. "Love, did you mean two months?" I replied. (He did mean two weeks).
2. Anger: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN TWO WEEKS, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? THANKS FOR LETTING US KNOW. DICK."
3. Bargaining: "Look, I completely understand. Our landlord has changed the terms, and now you need to go. But listen, why don't you wait until after Christmas, eh?" (Nope, still two weeks).
4. Depression: Great. GREAT. Why is my life such a mess? This is so stressful, how are we going to pay the rent with one less person? We're going to have to find someone in a rush and they'll be weird and hoard all our plates in their room and steal shampoo and just be, like, WEIRD.
5. Acceptance: I'm setting up a Gumtree ad in between typing this.
One of the best things about your twenties is flatmates. The very worst thing about your twenties? Also flatmates.
This is the strange paradox of being for us "generation renters"* because as soon as we're old enough to be out in the world, we realise we can't afford to be out in the world. Either we scuttle back to our parents, shaking and scared and resigned to endless nights of "what time will you be home?" Or, we pool our funds and enter the big ol' situation of co-dependency that is flat sharing.
Sometimes we even end up sharing with someone we met on the Internet. Usually because our actual mates are all sorted, with better jobs and more money so they don't need to share. At these times, we are perfectly within our rights to hold our friends' good fortune against them. And if they point out that it's your own fault because you decided to work in the "media"** then you can kick them.
But I digress. Of course sometimes you get the good 'uns. The keepers. The ones who warm your cold, mouse-infested flat with their joie de vivre. The ones who let you borrow their tops without asking and make you ROFL with their impressions of Scotty T from Geordie Shore. These are times to revel in your own good fortune.
Because when you get the crappy ones, it all becomes a bit Cold War. The living room turns into a no man's land fraught with tensions and unspoken recrimination.
In your head you go: "I know it was you who ate all of my peanut butter then put the almost-empty-but-for-one-spoonful tub back in my cupboard. Every time you swear, SWEAR, you never touched it, it makes me want to leave a poo under your pillow."
Out loud you go: "good day?"
So you can see why it would be distressing that one of our four is imminently departing. After all, we've bonded, we've slow-grown a relationship and come to understand each other's foibles. We've become civil co-habitants, a well-oiled living togetherness machine. We've become friends, you know?
Then again, now I can have his room. Every cloud.
*this is a really shitty name for a generation.
** f*ck off, basically.
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