LIFE: ‘LIVING IN THE GARAGE’

Pic on front ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Annie Leibovitz

“London ice can freeze your toes
Like anyone I suppose
I’m holding on for tomorrow” Blur ‘For Tomorrow’ 

Article by Jessica Burgess

I wake up and it’s pitch black… It could be 3am or 3pm but I wouldn’t know…There’s a rattling sound to my left and the hum of something electronic to my right. Where am I? I roll over and turn on the bedside lamp and slowly the metal rails above me come into focus and I remember I’m home… home sweet home in my lovely garage room. That’s right- for five months now I’ve been living in a garage.

Moving to London is an exciting prospect- before moving you imagine yourself living in a flat above Covent Garden – strolling down the Strand to work and going out in West London every night to bars found in the “must see” section of Timeout. The reality is a little different.

Sure, I love being in London but you quickly realise that living anywhere with a less than 45 minute commute is pretty standard and if you can get anywhere in 30 minutes you’re doing well.

I’m lucky that after Uni pretty much all of my friends decided to move to London to pursue various careers- and everyone has had to struggle with the rental costs that come with living in the Big Smoke. I’m the only one…however that decided to live in a garage…

I’d been living in London about 3 or 4 months on the edge of zone 3 in a tiny “double room” where the door just about opened wide enough with a double bed in it for you to squeeze in. The room had mice darting in and out of the wardrobe and an unconcerned landlord who let tenants come and go without much care to the properties upkeep, cleanliness or indeed their deposits where it was hit or miss whether you’d get it back or not. I was helping a friend flat hunt when I stumbled across an advert for a massive double room in Balham for about half of what I was paying currently. I quickly jumped on the phone and organised a visit.

Sure, the room was a garage- it didn’t have a window and came with features including a boiler, brick wall, garage railings and a polyester board selotaped against the garage door – but for the price, who wouldn’t live in a garage?

These past 5 months haven’t actually been so bad- thankfully it’s been winter so I haven’t really missed out on having a window and there’s been plenty of storage space because- let’s face it- garages are pretty huge. With a poster or two and some artfully draped cloths from my travels it looks almost quirky but there’s still the lingering smell of damp and tales from my housemates of slug infestations…

My time in the garage has definitely got me thinking… Is it really OK that young people all over London are struggling to find even basic affordable accommodation? Should we really be having to make the choice of wiping out half of our wages on rent each month or living with our parents until we’re well into our adult lives?

I’ll soon be looking for my next London home because there’s only so long one can live in a…erm garage…

Who knows where I’ll end up next. Anyone got any garden sheds to rent?

Can you relate? Would you like to write an article about living in London…? Email beckiburrows@gmail.com #jointheconversation #ohdearyme

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