Money Observer: Boxed in by London’s rental market

When 22-year-old Joe Peduzzi came to view a room in east London at the end of 2015, he was in for a surprise. The double room in Bethnal Green costing £480 a month plus bills that he expected was in fact a mattress in a shed in a corner of the communal living room of a flat.

One year on from what became known as ‘a bed, in a shed, in the lounge’ – the epitome of London’s housing crisis – I too am once again at-hunting in the capital. Who would have guessed that decades after my family managed to leave the Soviet Union, I would encounter a ‘housing question’ not unlike the chronic shortage experienced by Muscovites in the 1930s (beautifully captured by Mikhail Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita) by living in the UK?

Ever since I first moved to London, I’ve lived in ‘good areas’ for what’s considered a ‘good price’, but I’ve always made some kind of compromise. I spent the first years living in a room where the Tube trains used to go so closely past my window I could look into passengers’ faces. Luckily I sleep like a log, thanks for asking. Then I had another few years in a small room in a gorgeous gated mews with a large family of mice, and now I’m on the main road of a popular area, but the problem is that I have to move out.

After many viewings, I may just have found the perfect place. The price is okay for London (it would get me a three-bed in Berlin, of course) and it’s above one of my favourite coffee shops. What’s the compromise, I hear you ask? The letting agent communicates with me via emojis, the wifi is slow and the shower is currently not working.

This column was published as part of Marina’s Imaginary Millions in Money Observer, November 2016.

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