Renting in London, has become an arduous task. Five interested tenants to one empty property, selling your soul to live in a shed at the end of someone’s garden and never getting good value for money.
The Office for National Statistics found that in 2017, 5% of British citizens experienced loneliness and the majority of these fell into the 16-24 age category. It also found that ‘young renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area’ were most likely to suffer from loneliness. As London attracts so many young people, often moving far away from friends, family and solid social networks; it can be a hub of loneliness. It can feel isolating, as people with their own agendas hustle and bustle around one another, barely interacting; terrified of making eye contact with a stranger and scared of creating any real connection.
Community living spaces, that have begun popping up all over London, are aiming to return community values back to city-dwellers, whilst helping “newbies” make friends.
Warehouse spaces are currently dominating certain East London postcodes and spreading throughout London. The concept of warehouse living was intended to provide creative spaces for artists to live and work together.
Joining together creative minds, in an environment which encourages the sharing of ideas and an artistic community of like-minded people have popularised warehouse living.
With up to 15 bedrooms and massive communal areas, residents socialise with, provide for and look after one another. April Warren, an ex-warehouse tenant said ‘you are forced to bond with the people you live with. As it’s such a big space you always have neighbours and friends in your shared living area.’ Cooking, cleaning, eating and partying together; gardening, reading, drawing and watching television, artists can fight the high living and studio costs by combining them into one. Owned and cared for by the tenants themselves, they turn them into eclectic and beautiful spaces meaning they have become the latest ‘hipster’ trend. The tenants hand-select any newcomers, ensuring all residents are like-minded individuals, creating a community based on shared experiences, congenial personalities and a desire to create. Rooms are approximately £550 a month.
Some companies are buying in on this idea; purchasing and decorating properties to an exquisite standard and running a rental service that operates as the divide between a smart hotel and student digs. They offer all-inclusive rent, bills and expenses at around £850 per month; removing the stress of finding and paying for a whole property. The biggest benefit to this kind of living, is the community residents participate init. Fitness, cooking and art classes are open to tenants in all locations, allowing them to meet more people and become a part of a thriving, sociable network. Zafar Bhunnoo, Chief development officer of co-living company Spaces Life believes his company are making great steps towards combating loneliness in the city. Zafar says that whilst many of their tenants don’t ‘have their own physical social networks’, the community they aim to create changes this. He says ‘we’ve got about a hundred people living around London Bridge within a five minute walk from one another and then we’ve got six other live communities across London.’ To accommodate this reality, the company organise meet-ups and drinks events so residents can expand their social circle and get to know other people who are also looking to expand their immediate community.
Whilst joining together new people in the city, co-living spaces also deal with the issue of too many empty and derelict buildings in London. Living as a property guardian is another alternative, which offers tenants all the perks of community living, at a cheaper price. Landlords with empty buildings get them looked after and paid for whilst in between owners or purposes. From empty office blocks in Canary Wharf to a warehouse in Stoke Newington, guardianships provide people with a comfortable and often unique place to live with sociability. A great way to meet a diverse group of people, learn new skills, gain new knowledge and expand social circles; guardianship living is an exciting concept. Whilst all the tenants are diverse in their interests and desires everyone involved wants the same outcome; to create a community within their home and become included in a reliable support network. A lot cheaper than warehouse living and co-living spaces, guardianships offer the added privilege of protecting empty buildings from becoming derelict and destroying London landscapes. Government research into guardians in London found the majority of people living in guardianship properties did so ‘chiefly in order to move to be closer to their workplace, to attain more affordable housing costs, or because they wanted a larger space.’
Spaces Life: www.spaceslife.com
Global Guardians: www.global-guardians.co.uk
Umbrella Guardians: www.global-guardians.co.uk