"Microwave from the Comfort of Your Bed in Brent"
July 15, 2019 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Against the background of London's housing crisis, Joel Golby of Vice presents the Rental Opportunity of the Week.

Featuring:
- the bunkbed with planks falling off it;
- the fish and chip shop;
- a kitchen-toilet, a shed in a living room, and a horsebox.

Guest appearances from those other havens of affordable housing, Dublin and San Francisco.
posted by Catseye (30 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
If London doesn’t do it for you, they’re dying to move to Dublin.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 10:50 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Maybe I was a sucker, but I paid L80/week for a worse situation than this one - and that was in Kew over 10 years ago. I didn't have a sink or access to a kitchen - just a shared bathroom where I could fill up my pot/kettle, and a little two-hob thing on a coffee table. I can't remember if I had a fridge or not. It wasn't so bad - I lived off boiled pasta with tomatoes, nice buns and Stilton cheese (my treat for myself).

I must have had a fridge - where else did I keep the Stilton? But I have no memory of it).
posted by jb at 11:05 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I adore this column because it cheers me up as I look for a new place in the bunkbed "studio" - roommate price range, and it brings back "fond" memories of looking for places in London when I was too young and naive to know that super cheap rent right off the King's Road is not only a red flag, it is a red flag factory.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Where does this end? How does this end?
posted by The Whelk at 11:19 AM on July 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


It’s a good flat, Brent.
posted by m@f at 11:24 AM on July 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


What is it? Well, the advert here says "annexe", but it's a shed, isn't it. It's a shed.

Thanks for posting, this is hilariously written and very entertaining. Author talks about some of the kinds of people who'd use small places like these, bankers who have mansions out in the country, rich kids who need somewhere to crash in between parties. It's... its insane. (forgive me i'm not well at articulating thoughts, but..) It's like the people not owning the means of production, except the "production" is a city. How can there exist a city that offers services, like restaurants, bars, theater houses, etc, but the people who fundamentally make those services happen can't afford to exist there?
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Capitalism
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's difficult to process this one, mainly because this is a shed in a front room. A shed – a shed, remember, is a specialist wooden box for dads to cry in and a place for normal people to keep their old plant pots and bikes – but it has been erected not in a garden but in a front room, painted an inoffensive shade of off-white, nestled behind the sofa. It's like looking at a whale carefully hidden in an aeroplane, or a lamppost coming out of a frog – something anonymous and boring, rendered insane by its context.

I almost had to leave my desk for a moment to go laugh quietly at this paragraph. A SHED!
posted by xingcat at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Is it bad that I find the horsebox kind of charming? That's bad, right? Like. Really bad.
posted by kalimac at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I...you...the shed...they really want you to pay 530 pounds a month to lock yourself in a box in the middle of their living room? I suppose it's better than pods because at least you aren't constantly visible to everyone around you.

The pods look worse the more photos you see.

~~
Furnished rooms usually aren't a thing in the US, so even my "what if I had to live in a really horrible situation" anxieties have always been more like "well at least I could fit in my nice chair and my favorite bookshelf" rather than "I will sit on a hotel chair from 1995". Not even being able to have your own furnishings - few and odd though they might be - has always invested UK flat-hunting stories with an extra horror.
posted by Frowner at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


> Maybe I was a sucker, but I paid L80/week for a worse situation than this one - and that was in Kew over 10 years ago. I didn't have a sink or access to a kitchen - just a shared bathroom where I could fill up my pot/kettle, and a little two-hob thing on a coffee table. I can't remember if I had a fridge or not. It wasn't so bad - I lived off boiled pasta with tomatoes, nice buns and Stilton cheese (my treat for myself).

Did you see their entry on the San Francisco barracks where you can spend 12 times as much money for a fraction of the privacy?
posted by at by at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2019


I imagine it ends in coffin homes like Hong Kong has. If you want less grim versions, this slide show shows more of the upscale versions of fitting more people into smaller spaces in Hong Kong, much like the bunks in San Francisco or swaggier.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:24 PM on July 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


The shed!

So in Five Get Into Trouble, there's a desk-type thing that turns out to be a secret room that only fits a bed, which is occupied by a Wanted Criminal hiding from the police.

This shed is clearly based on the landlord's fond memories of Enid Blyton is what I'm saying.
posted by (bra) at 12:27 PM on July 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


Obviously PodShare is a symptom of a disease and not the cause...the next darkly logical step

I would say this is the aesthetic of late capitalism
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


London Rental Opportunity of the Week: A Fold-Out Sofa, Sort of in Dublin!

Wait for it. You are allowed to share a washing line with the other two tenants in this building, who I’m assuming are either the owners who lovingly over-decorated this place (eerie smiles, I imagine the people who decorated this as having, weird unblinking smiles and every conversation always seems to come back round to God) or two, separate, extremely unhappy people paying far too much for a tiny space.

Wait for it. Your living room is a laminated-tablecloth with a lamp next to it. Wait for it. Your kitchen is the same room, and it is a kitchen.

It’s coming. The bed: here we are. The bed is this: the bed is a fold-out sofa that intersects with a small haberdashered bench w/ matching curtains. The landlady starts screaming if you change the bedding to anything that doesn’t match. It sounds like it is directly above a kiln and you wake up each day sweating. It costs you €1,050, a month, (£920), in not-even-the-central-part of Dublin, to live here. You cannot afford it, and even if you could you wouldn’t want it. The housing market in a nutshell. I deeply hope your references are excellent.


Thank you for this find. You've made my week and restored my faith in the internet.
posted by saysthis at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I found the part where he can't get over a washing machine in the bathroom quite amusing. That's where the washing machine goes! It's putting it in the kitchen that's weird.*

*) In certain parts of the world.
posted by Vesihiisi at 1:02 PM on July 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


I saw the 3-million pound house with the kink dungeon - and I thought: I'd probably turn that back into a scullery and kitchen, which is what it probably was in the Georgian period. But I'm old-fashioned like that.
posted by jb at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


The landlady starts screaming if you change the bedding to anything that doesn’t match.

I had a landlady who did exactly this once. It was not a fun year.
posted by Catseye at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


A Fold-Out Sofa, Sort of in Dublin!
In the "Creative Quarter" in Balbriggan to be exact. (The article didn’t actually say where it was other than close to the county border - I was assuming somewhere southside until I went looking). Now, I admit I’ve been living outside Ireland for a while, but over €1000 a month for a bed sit with a fold-out bed in Balbriggan?
posted by scorbet at 1:28 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


The landlady starts screaming if you change the bedding to anything that doesn’t match.

I had a landlady who did exactly this once. It was not a fun year.
posted by Catseye at 5:17 AM on July 16 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


??????? But why was the landlady giving you bedding? Bedding is...personal. Creatures can spawn in it. It's bulky and easily ruined and requires frequent laundering. I've never encountered a landlord who offered it. Furniture, mattresses, sure in furnished places, but never bedding in a long-term lease.

I'm honestly intrigued.
posted by saysthis at 2:50 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I hadn’t seen landlords provide bedding before that either. The landlords were a couple in their 60s who told us that they provided all bedding because “we want our tenants to feel cosy and comfortable! All our tenants have been like family to us!” In retrospect: DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. But we were young and inexperienced so we just swapped the bedding with our own.

Skip forward a few months: they were an absolute nightmare, had a very strong emotional attachment to the flat and got upset/furious if it was left ‘untidy’, which meant several times we came home to find that they had let themselves in to inspect the flat and were now angry that we had left it in A Terrible State. One of the issues was that a corner of a bathmat was flipped over, another was that books were left on the floor rather than a side table. There was actual shouting about these.

One of my flatmates wisely left, so we put the landlord bedding back on his bed before they next came round. The final straw for the rest of us leaving too was when they insisted we all go into his room to see the problem, and yelled at us for putting the wrong bedding back, because obviously that set didn’t match the wallpaper what were we thinking!

It wasn’t even nice bedding.
posted by Catseye at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Sometimes things (snarky websites) like this lead to real change. In Portland Chloe Eudaly ran for office (and won!) based on a a pro-tenant platform which all began when she started a Facebook group called That's A God Damned Shed. (Link to interview on YouTube.)
posted by vespabelle at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is legit terrifying.
posted by hilberseimer at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


The commentary is funny, but knowing that people are being forced into such terrible situations is sad.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:39 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I lived in a place that was about 70sqft (7sqm-ish). The single bed had a table over the leg part so you could sit up in bed and eat or read or whatever. The kitchenette was like from a small camper, a tiny sink, dorm fridge, one burner gas stove and a tiny cabinet above it. There was about 18 inches of space between it and the bed. Towards the front door was one small closet and across from it was a bathroom (airplane sized) with a shower that just rained down water on top of the toilet and sink. This was in Seoul about fifteen years ago and I am sure that similar places (if not that exact one) still exist. Anyway I was young and the location was good, but I only stayed there a couple of months.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:52 PM on July 15, 2019


My "favourite" of the ones in Dublin has to be the one which seems to be some-sort of lean-to/shed built in what looks like a side-passage. (Though apparently it was removed after it went viral.)
posted by scorbet at 2:22 AM on July 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Dread House seems too "good" to be true. I want to believe.

Also, A Fridge On a Cabinet in Willesden:
What is it? All I'm going to say is: someone's put a fridge on top of a cabinet, and the cabinet is wrapped entirely in clingfilm. We do not have the language for this because it has never happened before.
The end is nigh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:08 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Re the fridge on a cabinet: it has it's own WASHING machine - but no kitchen drawers?

Maybe coin laundries are really expensive, but seriously, I only do laundry once a week, I could share. Unlike, you know, actually places to store things.
posted by jb at 12:02 PM on July 18, 2019


Are you in the US? European washing machines are small and function as condensing dryers (versus venting, as is mostly the case in the US) and are slooooooow and, even then, people end up hanging things up or draping them to finish drying. So I gather you're forced to constantly wash and dry small numbers of clothing. You'd think that this would make coin-op launderettes very attractive ... unless they, too, are relatively small and slow and also expensive. Something like that must be the case in London because even the worst of these sheds seem to have a washer.

Which is interesting, because for those of us looking for inexpensive rental housing in the US, washer/dryers in the unit are the exception, not the rule. For a disabled person like me, this is a really big problem. I simply cannot transport my laundry regularly to a laundromat or even a shared laundry-room. It's very frustrating.

But we have closets.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:02 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


When I lived in the UK, our rented house had a small washer-dryer (a lot like the one in the picture). It was just as fast as a North Am washer & dryer.

We were renting a whole house, but even so, a washer was a bit of a luxury. It's still shocking to see a rental with a washing machine, but also basically be a hovel otherwise.
posted by jb at 8:32 PM on July 18, 2019


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