When I was younger, I dreamt to live in a flatshare, like in “Friends” or “How I met your mother”. And it began pretty well: I lived for 2 years with my best friend in Aix-en-Provence when we were students. But in Sydney, La Rochelle and now in London, where my I/we had/have to share a flat with total strangers, it isn’t the same… None of them had become my/our friends. We just live next to each other, exchange some words from time to time when we meet and that’s all.
Perhaps we have to try in New York…
As Forrest Gump would say: “Moving in a flatshare is like opening a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get!”
This is why it’s for me very important to meet my potential future flatmates before deciding to move in or not, to see if we can “match”. But the 2 problems are that it’s often difficult to meet all the flatmates in a single visit and also that there is no guarantee that they will not leave and be replace by dreadful persons.
The flatshare has more chances to be successful if the flatmates are on the same page: same age, same activity (student or professional), same status (singe or in couple) and either you want it or not (the majority of people abroad are precisely abroad to open to the world), same culture.
Call me unlucky but I tend to find and live in flatshares with more guys than girls. In Sydney, we shared a flat with 3 other Asian guys. In La Rochelle, I shared a flat with one British guy (worst experience ever). And in London, after having shared a flat with 2 other couples, we now share a flat with 4 other guys: one Australian, one French, one British and one Ghanaian.
Those experiences allowed me to develop new habits in order to survive like:
-Keeping my flip-flops in a shower, we never know…
-Never letting my shower gels, shampoos… in the shower, I don’t want to find them empty
-Always having an emergency toilet paper roll because when it runs out, nobody is in a hurry to replace it
-Buying my own cutleries and crockeries because I don’t want to wash my flatmates’ dishes
-Removing wet clothes from the washing-machine or dried clothes from the drying rack when I need them, otherwise they tend to think that it’s an annex to their rooms
-Never looking in the toilet when removing the lid, as some people don’t know how to use the toilet brush
-Never sitting on the toilet, because guys tend to not aim very well if you see what I mean… The good thing is that I work out on my legs by doing squats!
-Locking my room when a party is scheduled because I don’t want any strangers to sneak in my room
-Making a communal fund to avoid supplying the flat in household products
-Using the toilet or bathroom when they’re available as it never lasts
My experiences the more traumatic?:
-A British flatmate who stank so much that the whole flat was contaminated if he let his door opens
-An Italian flatmate who didn’t know how to speak, only how to shout, at any time of the day and of the night
-A Chinese flatmate who built a hut in the living room to make his own bedroom
-Finding vomit in the washbasin
-Finding a puddle of pee near around the toilet
-Hearing the piercing shrieks of my flatmate’s girlfriend when they shag
-Finding a mouse in my room
-Having to pay more bills because one of the flatmate left without notice
-And the worst of the worst for the end: finding a used sanitary napkins glued to the washbasin
After 15 months in London in 2 different apartments, we’re now looking for a new one, still in Marylebone, which is my favorite area.
I developed some criteria to help us (or not) in our quest.
My mandatory requirements for our next flatshare:
-Private bathroom, I’m tired to have to dress to go to the toilet during the night, I’m tired to have to wait sometimes a long time (some guys take much more time than girls to be ready), I ‘m tired to see that there is no toilet paper again…
-King size bed
-Lot of storage, it’s unbelievable what you can accumulate over time
My secondary requirement:
-Shutters because we don’t sleep well with daylight
-Double glazed windows to reduce the noise and insulate against cold temperatures
-British charm: like a colored door, a nice view over the roofs, a bow-window, a little garden, a basement flat, in a mews…
-No carpet because it’s disgusting
-Living room, which is not that common in London where most landlords prefer to transform it in a bedroom to make more profit
The only problem is that I can’t be on Spareroom and Gumtree all day long and when a good room is advertised, you have to be the first to visit it if you want to have a chance to have it.
Anyway, we’re not in a hurry so we can stay where we are until we find what we want.
Wish us luck though!