When figures emerged last week that the average rent price in London was £1,500 per month I took a straw poll around the office to see what people would have guessed. Estimates ranged wildly from £700 up to £3,000, which is an impressive representation of our team's diverse financial backgrounds, I suppose.
The reality shocked no one, despite the fact that it's more than many professionals - particularly those in creative industries - take home in salary. The national average rent price outside of London is £751, an almost-perfect half of London prices. Are we being ripped off or is London actually worth the money?
Stories emerge every week about the latest ridiculous Zoopla finding, usually some three square metre bedsit in Chelsea rented out weekly at a four-figure sum. It makes for the perfect water-cooler fodder which we'll discuss throwing around token phrases about gentrification and shaking our heads in disbelief.
But not only do we believe it, we accept it, and are even somewhat proud of it. Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world is something of a badge of honour, and we don't bat an eyelid at spending two thirds of our salaries on rent alone, at the £800 price tag that comes with a pokey room in an ex-council block with no living room and six housemates.
The supply-and-demand argument sounds trite and libertarian, and London certainly needs some level of rent control and lower income housing to avoid becoming a barren land restricted for the ultra rich. However, those complaining about rent prices are not people who are struggling to make ends meet, they are people who also complain about the rising costs of a Starbucks frappuccino and their Saturday night Uber.
Young professionals with roots elsewhere in the country choose to live in London because it offers an urbane and integrated atmosphere like nowhere else. There's no such thing as a no-go-area for anyone. Students live down the road from unemployed poets and musicians, across the street from million-pound townhouses owned by middle-aged couples with young Hugo Boss-wearing children, and a short stroll away from a working-class estate inhabited by a smattering of different cultures and nationalities.
It's this diversity that leads to the opportunities we seize in a frenzy of desperation to drink in every last drop of the city before it's time to settle down and move to the suburbs. It's why in the space of one weekend and within the perimeters of a couple of miles you can visit independent anarchist coffee shops, overpriced wine bars, vintage record vendors, Michelin star restaurants, 24 hour underground raves, book readings, political science lectures and free exhibitions about everything from the history of immigration to obscure subcultures of the 1980s. Most people I know would happily attend all of the above.
Does this mean that London is worth paying double the rent of elsewhere in the country to live in? Well perhaps. Our salaries are higher, our opportunities are greater and our options are endless. To the people I overhear debating this in the organic granola aisle at Stoke Newington's new Whole Foods I say yes, you get what you pay for and you love it. There are many problems with housing in London, but us choosing to pay more for our studios than those vague acquaintances do for a semi-detatched outside the M25 isn't one of them.