March 8, 2017
Do you still think where you live says a lot about you? Sorry, chaps - nothing could be further from the truth.
When Sean first moved to London after landing a job at Stratford as a Comms Assistant, he crashed with his aunt as he searched for a room. He had an inkling that the places where all of his friends were living - Clapham, Putney and Earls Court - were considered to be, well, ‘hip’. He didn’t really care either way until he met Katie.
Katie was tall, brunette, striking, posh without being intimidating, and she lived in Chelsea. Sean, desperate to impress her, decided that he’d give up on the idea of renting an affordable flat and a decent commute from Forest Gate, and promptly moved in with an antisocial Australian couple a few minutes from (yes, you guessed it) Sloane Square station. The rent almost swallowed up his entire salary, he couldn’t afford to patronise the pubs, bars and clubs which had initially thrilled him, and Katie ditched him for a Lebanese bodybuilder six months later. She moved to Barnet, and Sean was left with the Australian couple for six long, lonely months. He was broke, miserable - and soon realised he’d made a bit of a daft decision.
Sean thought that by moving to Chelsea he’d impress Katie - and by doing so, crippled himself in the process. The truth is that nobody really cares about where you live any more than they care about your gran’s views on Kiss FM or the GCSEs you took. It’s easy to believe that you’ll cause a subtle ripple of interest when you’re telling people about yourself in the pub, but put it to the test. You’ll be unpleasantly surprised.
People have had and will always have a deep-rooted desire for other people to think well of them. To think they’re successful, and smart, and funny, and generally doing well in life. Sadly, people also think there are shortcuts to getting this social approval, such as living in the ‘right’ area or having the ‘right’ job. In truth, success in life - feeling good about yourself and where you’re going - comes from a sense of self-belief. That you’re on the right track, and working towards things which are important to you.
Chelsea wasn’t important to Sean - Katie was. And she would have been far more impressed by Sean being able to go on holiday with her and going out dancing, not just sitting in his flat watching DVDs, complaining about having no money.
If you put the your craving for other people to think well of you before your own needs, it means you won’t be able to do the things you love - whether that’s save money, go out, start a business or travel. You’re willingly limiting yourself all in the name of social acceptance. If Sean had taken the flat in Forest Gate, not only would he have had a flat to himself and been able to save plenty of money, but he would have also been able to do more with Katie. As it happened, he let other people’s perceptions - or what he thought their perceptions were - override what he really wanted from life.
In many cases, renting can be cheaper than buying a property. Lots of places offer all-inclusive deals and there’s no stress if the boiler breaks down - your landlord will fix that! However, renting will only work for you if you’re willing to live within your means so you can make the most of your money. Be imaginative. Look for places which might be a little further out, but won’t consume your salary. Consider a house share. See if you can get mates’ rates from a friend who has a spare room.
What makes us happy in life - seeing our friends, going on holiday, afternoon tea in the Ritz - is only possible if we have financial flexibility. Living a richer life is feeling confident about your money and happy about the things you’re able to do with it. A nice postcode may look prestigious - but all it really offers is a fantasy nobody else is buying into.
Here’s what you need to remember about renting...
- Always consider all-inclusive houseshares. There are no surprises and there’ll be no monthly scuffles with your housemates over who pays the bills
- Choose a flat you can afford. Accept that it may not be central. If this bothers you, try to find somewhere further out but close to a station
- Don’t ever feel pressured into living somewhere because ‘all of your friends are there’ or ‘it’s the place to be’. You won’t be able to see your friends if the rent’s chomped up your cash
- Don’t scrape the barrel. Nobody expects you to live in a cupboard in Southall for £200 a month. You need some home comforts in your life - strike a balance between luxury and value
- Remember that prioritising paying a landlord over looking after yourself is pointless. Choose to look after yourself and your future over living in a swanky area