It is fast approaching the end of my time living in London. At the start of August I am moving back in with my Mum and Step Dad before going travelling full-time in September. I’m interested to see what it’s going to be like, I haven’t lived with them properly for 3 years, I’m 28 now, I’ve lived on my own for a long time, but I recently quit my job to blog and travel full-time so I don’t want to be paying rent from my savings until I leave to go travelling, especially as I’m going to be on trips for a lot of August and September anyway.
I’m going to miss London for sure and I’m definitely going to miss my flat in Hampstead. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know how beautiful Hampstead is and how I can walk up to the top of Hampstead Heath in just 15 minutes, see the city below but feel like I’m in the middle of the Countryside. I flat share in Hampstead and have done for the majority of my 2 and a half years in London, I’ve also lived in 2 other places for a short while, also flat and house sharing.
Sharing a flat or house in London comes with the territory really. I only know one person who has lived alone in London and that came at a cost. A lot of people say that London is a lonely city, there are millions of people who live in London – over 8 million in fact, but because it’s such a big city and everyone seems so busy it does have that feeling of loneliness. I know I’m not the only one who has to plan dinners, nights out and days out with my friends a few months in advance, and because of that I think it’s why I’m quite glad, and I’m sure a lot of other people are quite glad, that they don’t live alone in London and they do have someone to share a flat or house with because it is nice to come home and have someone to chat with, whether they are a close friend or still an acquaintance.
I recently met with one of my friends who I shared a house with for a while whilst living in London and we were talking about how nice it was. It was around Christmas time so we got to watch Christmas movies together, recover from Christmas drinks out together, put presents under the tree and have that feeling of ‘family time’ around Christmas. We’d travelled together before and spent 2 months constantly together in Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand so we knew we’d get along living together in London for a while.
We actually met in a hostel in Darwin, Australia exactly 6 years ago in 2012. We kept in contact and when I moved to Melbourne the following year I lived with her until I got myself settled and I’m forever grateful for her letting me stay at her house and in her room. We’d only met for a few days in Darwin and one day in Sydney and when I left the UK again a few months later to head to Australia I remember my work colleagues asking me where I was going to stay when I got to Oz, I said with a girl I’d met in a hostel and they thought it was weird that I’d only met this girl a handful of times, messaged on WhatsApp a bit and now I was arriving in Melbourne to stay with her!
But that’s the thing when you travel, you meet so many amazing people on the same wave length as you, some of them you just click with and make the effort to keep in contact with. Hopefully you end up in the same part of the world again or you make the effort to be in the same part of the world again.
It’s actually pretty crazy that we met in our dorm room in Darwin, were friends for a year when living in Melbourne, stayed in touch when I was travelling, travelled Asia together for a few months and although she had been away from London for 4 years, our time living in London has completely coincided as she’s been here for the whole time that I’ve been here and she goes travelling to Asia again a month after I do in October!
Although flat and house sharing does have its struggles and its negative points, talking of hostels made me remember my experience of spending 9 months in total living in hostels in Australia on my working holiday visa, plus a few 3-5 month trips also mainly staying in hostels around the world, it made me take note that despite the odd negative point and annoyances of flat sharing, how much nicer it is to just share a house or flat with people rather than sharing a bedroom with many many people and not owning anything!
Staying in hostels, sharing a room and sleeping in bunk beds comes with the territory of travelling and backpacking especially. Having such small area’s of space and having to pretty much live with a huge group of people does provide life lessons that I think helps flat and house sharing become that bit easier in the future, do you agree?
Firstly I think it makes you much more considerate and respectful. Everyone hates that person whose alarm keeps going off in the morning, the person who walks in when everyone else is asleep and turns the light on, the person who didn’t think to pack the night before and is banging around packing at silly o’clock in the morning. If you’re a person with your head screwed on you learn how to be quiet when coming into a dorm room and everyone is asleep, you learn to use the torch on your phone over turning the bedroom lights on and you learn to tidy up after yourself in the kitchen because no-one else is going to do it.
In fact I’ve seen a funny sign in the kitchen of many hostels that says ‘Your mum isn’t here now, you have to tidy up after yourself’, and it’s so true! Most of us travel in our early 20’s and may have been used to having parents do everything for us, so learning to cook, wash up, make a bed and do washing when living in hostels are such important life lessons that help make living in a house or flat share so much easier!
I think it also helps in finding the right flat mate. After staying in hostels for some time you meet an array of different people, much more than you would meet at university or just by living at home and this really helps in deciding who you want to share with. Personally, I really like my own space, this blog takes up a lot of my time after work and on the weekends so I’ve loved living in a flat where I can retreat to my room after work and chill and work on my own without having house mates who constantly want us to be social together in the evenings. I definitely learned this after living in hostels and knowing that often I needed to go on a walk and be on my own away from everyone else.
However I know people who would hate this setup! They love having people to cook with, making shared meals, having someone to watch TV with and have a glass of wine with. If you’ve travelled you probably know which kind of person you are.
I was quite lucky when moving to London and thanks to knowing people in London (who ironically I had met when travelling), I didn’t have to search too hard for flat mates, but if you do and if I was to do it again I’d have a look at Ideal Flatmate to ensure I got the right flatmate because they offer quizzes to match you with your perfect flat share, how cool is that? I’ve never seen or heard of that on another flat or house share website before!
I also think that sharing a flat with people who have travelled, or with people who are living in the city to travel and explore is a lot more fun. Take London for example, so many people come to London from other countries, sometimes it’s to find serious work and build their career, other times it’s on a working holiday visa to save money to travel as much as Europe as they can in 2 years.
If you share a flat with these types of people they are the ones that will want to check out all the different street food markets in London – Broadway Market, Borough Market, Camden Market and they’ll want to explore cool areas like Richmond, Greenwich, Shoreditch, and hopefully Hampstead. They want to get out of the area that you live and see more of the City and that’s much more fun than living with people who don’t!
If you’re currently travelling with the intent of moving and finding a flat share soon, or you have finished travelling and are planning a move, I hope this post gives you some ideas of how to find the Ideal flatmate and what to look for in them so you can live together well.
Look out for a post in a few weeks time where I update you on how I’ve settled in back at home and how it’s all generally going as I know I’m not the only person who is willing to sacrifice a bit of independence by moving back in with parents to save money for travel!
This post is sponsored by Ideal Flatmate but all thoughts, opinions and friends mentioned are my own.