Flat share: can the shared experience work?

It’s estimated that one-quarter of the population will be renting by the end of 2021. Terms like Generation Rent are far more than memorable soundbites. They reflect the reality of how millions of us live.

While some tenants might be hoping one day to secure a mortgage, others dream of finding a place of their own where the rent is affordable. Often, a flat share is seen as something that needs to be tolerated. Many hold onto a belief that they are “too old to be sharing with strangers”.

Last month, there was an article published in The Guardian which compared a flat-sharing experience with the stages of grief originally described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While the article had a thread of humour throughout, the overall feeling was that a flat share represents a compromise that can prove very uncomfortable.

But is that true? Surely, it’s only part of the picture.

Great expectations?

As long-term renting becomes more and more widespread, and rents in many cities remain relatively high, the number of platforms advertising rooms in shared houses has grown. Many of these sites paint a rosy picture of harmony or housemates having a blast together. They excel at looking at the positives – and there are many – but staged images can create unrealistic expectations. When these expectations are disappointed, it’s no wonder there’s denial and anger.

With any sharing arrangement, whether it’s with friends, strangers or even a partner, you need to understand the dynamics. Good manners, good habits and respect for others might be part of your nature, but you’ll soon be wanting to move on if those values aren’t shared by others in the flat. You also need to understand any rules and restrictions. If these don’t work for you or if you think a landlord’s demands are unreasonable, you won’t be happy.

A compromise or an opportunity?

That’s not to say that all arrangements are problematic. They’re not and perspective is everything. If you find a property and people that suit, it can be a brilliant arrangement: economical, convenient and a source of genuine friendships.

While you could see a flat share as living with strangers, you could also view it as building a network and making valuable connections. It’s affordable living that gives you the chance to save and maintain a social life. Look for the opportunity to expand your horizons, learn from your fellow sharers and collect amazing memories. If you want to move on and get a place of your own, you’ll have a group of buddies just a message away.

Many of those sharing throughout lockdown recognise the loneliness they might have endured if they’d been living alone. There’s also a significant trend for older people to actively choose sharing –and not just for financial reasons.  Who says sharing is just for students or twenty-somethings? Companionship is important at any age.

The Guardian’s article creates a gloomy picture. Flat-share platforms show joy and harmony. The truth is that any living arrangement can be heaven or hell. It’s like the rest of life … it’s what you make it.

We’re proud to offer services to suit the needs of all types of tenant, from those renting a whole house to those renting just a room. If you’d like our advice, you’re welcome to call.