# 1 (2015) The Way We Live
I have lived in my current city for 6 and a half years. And in that time I have lived in 5 different houses – 3 house shares, and 2 private accommodation.
I suppose I have been lucky that only one of my house shares was a complete dive and only twice have I lived with psychos.
But now I am relocating 84 miles away (2 hours by road) and starting again somewhere new. And despite a month of hunting I have yet to find anything remotely resembling an inhabitable property. I also now only have 5 days to go and will be officially homeless next Tuesday.
I keep thinking maybe it’s my age that’s to blame for me refusing to live in something resembling a squat. I was brought up in nice houses, to treat property and possessions with respect and to always be mindful of shared spaces. I am not afraid of a hoover and washing up always comes second to cooking and eating a meal, especially when you know others are waiting to use the kitchen.
I have viewed 7 properties so far (severely restricted due to the distance I have to travel to see anything) and only one of them was what I would call clean and sociable. Many house shares have too many people crushed into insufficient spaces. Front rooms are converted into additional bedrooms. Fridge freezers spill out into hallways and shared living rooms in a desperate attempt to accommodate additional tenants. Living rooms have all but lost their homely and communal atmosphere.
Single people have been forced into shared accommodation because rents are high and continuing to climb, wages don’t match the price rises, and utilities are unfathomably expensive for what they are. And it shows no sign of slowing.
Most house shares don’t have a live in landlord. They are simply money making schemes for one individual trying to make a quick buck and this reflects in the condition of the properties and the people in them.
One of the ironic facts about house shares is how secular they are as a living space. Several of the properties I visited didn’t even have a shared living room or anywhere to eat or those that did had turned them into makeshift laundry rooms and dumping grounds for all manner of crap that didn’t fit into their cramped and insufficient bedroom spaces. In others, people clearly preferred to exist in their own rooms away from everyone else.
Because I run my own business and work alone I consider my house share to be one of my main points of social contact. I want to live with interesting people who can make intelligent conversation and every so often like to watch tv as a group effort. And what’s wrong with that? Mankind is supposed to be a social animal. So why does it hate its own company so much? Individuals with nothing in common, thrown together into a space through desperation to put a roof over their heads, do not make for harmonious homes and I have been shocked and disappointed at the state of most of the properties I have visited.
In one property I viewed, the lack of working together as a house extended to not buying light bulbs for communal areas and more than once I have seen the purchase of toilet rolls being the source of tension. The general reluctance to clean communal areas is always obvious. House shares are, sadly, breeding grounds for territorial issues. The lack of upkeep by disinterested live out landlords and the disregard of tenants for each other horrifies and depresses me. And I refuse to live like that. I am not a graduate, I have outgrown university style digs. I have lived in my own homes, I have respect for property and people. And just because I choose to run my own business and stay relatively single and child free, why should I have to live in something resembling a squat because others couldn’t care less?
So I shall put everything I have into storage and temporarily share someone else’s limited but clean space until I can find somewhere that shows some respect for its tenants and where tenants want to be a part of a team, because essentially if you are going to all live in a house together that’s what you have to be – a team.