It feels like I haven’t written for a long time, and I have been regretting the lack of blogging. But for most of August, I was preoccupied with my impending move to London and spent a lot of time searching for flats, setting up viewings, travelling across London, only to be disappointed by much of what I saw. And my final decision was to move in with my aunt, and I’m really grateful that the offer was there.
Flathunting in London is difficult to describe. Words that spring to mind are “rollercoaster”, “whirlwind”, “minefield”. I learnt some harsh realities and started to resent the money-grabbing nature of landlords who will charge £500-600 a month for a room but not even bother to make sure it’s clean or that the furnishings are an acceptable standard. One house I went to with my sister, we envisaged falling down the stairs on the uneven (and grey-when-it’s-meant-to-be-white) carpet. Another one was £450 a month for a tiny room which only just managed to fit the pull-out bed. Another room I saw just smelt so bad, I had to cover my face! Other issues were the rude people we met. A landlady who snapped at us for not remembering the exact ad details, a future housemate who displayed anger issues, the ones who said we’d wasted their time when we didn’t take the rooms.
I didn’t think I was naive before I started the flat hunt. I thought I knew what to expect. But the reality did shock me. The price of sub-standard rooms appalled me. But landlords know that even if you don’t take the room, someone else will.
When I started the flathunt, I felt really positive and confident that I could find what I wanted. But it quickly dawned on me how difficult that was going to be. I didn’t like feeling so negative and resentful, but I felt that people everywhere were trying to rip other people off. I felt that people were selfish and that everyone was just out for themselves.
As someone who is supposedly writing a blog which aims to appreciate life and celebrate positivity, I felt that if I wrote about my experience of flathunting, it wouldn’t fit with my blog and the intentions I have. I also thought it might reveal that I was naive and that people might react with, “Well, it’s London. What did you expect?”
But the thing about positivity and aiming for a positive outlook doesn’t mean that you have to feel positive all the time. This is unnatural. Allowing ourselves to express our full range of emotions, including the negative ones such as anger and resentment is healthy and stops things from getting bottled up. Because emotions which have been suppressed will always find a way of surfacing in the end. Sometimes this could be with a violent outburst, sometimes it will manifest as depression or other mental illness, sometimes as a physical illness, this list is not definitive. But you can be sure that emotions you try to hide will come out eventually.
So in light of this, I have allowed myself to write this post. I know that flathunting did not bring out the best in me. It made me negative, stressed, angry, hopeless. But that is not to say that I don’t appreciate the experience. It was a learning curve. One that will come in useful for future flat hunts. It also made me quickly get to know London. A month ago I had a vague picture of London in my head. Now I am more familiar with where places are and how to get around. What I didn’t like about the experience was that it revealed to me a horrible selfish side to human nature, where money is all-important, and quality of living conditions comes secondary, if that.
Finally, I am really grateful to my aunt and uncle for offering me to live with them. I’m going to move in next weekend. Since making this decision, I have started to look forward to the new experience that awaits me. Starting a new course will bring new challenges. Meeting new people means new friends. And I’m also closer to friends and family I could only see every so often when I was working abroad.
So, in answer to the question of the blog’s title? Flathunting was difficult. Sometimes it was negative. But that’s OK.