What is it? A mezzanine bedroom floor floating above a kitchenette, which yes yes we’ve seen many times before (which is bad in itself – realistically how many mezzanine bedroom floors floating above kitchens do you think is an acceptable number to put in a so called advanced city? In my head the number is pretty low), but there are enough nuances and quirks about this one to make it—
Worth writing 1,600 words? – well –
Where is it? In Deptford that’s that place in South London where you’re always threatened with afters and so you bundle up in an Uber and go, the taxi for some reason has to take a weird route around all the major bridges and tunnels to cross the river, and for some reason this takes 55 minutes, even if you just started in Wapping, but at least the afters will be good, you’re sure of that. Just the word – Deptford – it sounds like ‘good afters’ doesn’t it, it sounds like great sprawling floors of warehouses and weird old factories covered in graffiti artist stickers, and it sounds like everyone who lives here is a freelance creative and it makes doesn’t really matter if it all goes on until 2pm, 3pm or maybe 4pm the next day; let’s get the decks out, let’s put another bag in, actually yeah, I’m feeling pretty cramped actually yeah, yeah, shall we, yeah?
And then: oh, you forgot, this is what Deptford is, isn’t it. A load of new-build flats with a complicated access system with too many gates. Big walk across shared parking/grassless outdoor area with the person who invited you all and silences you all the time. You slide open the double doors and step out onto a balcony that is only fifteen centimeters deep. An email from Uber: You just paid £61.03 to get here and all the people you shared the taxi with were strangers who seemed to have slipped like ether into the crowd. You have to be quiet because their roommate is a lawyer. Damn hell. You’ve fallen for Deptford’s tricks again.
What is there to do locally? To be fair to Deptford, it still has a rather old fashioned, menacing high street, which I always respect. I’m not being ironic or cute: a shopping street with a pool club you can’t look directly into, a bunch of pizzerias painted orange for some reason, an off-brand CeX and a train viaduct no one can figure out the exact source or exit is better than the same run of H&M, O2, Debenham’s and Card Factory you get anywhere. British high streets should always have a weird alley you’re afraid to go into, a strange nursery that hasn’t changed color for several years and an ominous smell. I’m tired of walking past a big beige New Look!
Okay, how much are they asking? £1,150 pcm, bills included albeit with caveats.
Lately I’ve been digging into camping videos on YouTube for two reasons: i) I really like them! I find them very comforting! I just really enjoy watching a monotonous Canadian man huddled in a tent in negative temperatures, cooking a big flat pot of slop and then falling asleep on a bunk bed in his jeans, seemingly not having a second of fun, but at least to survive at that there is at least; and ii) Realistically, with the housing and rental market the way it is going, I’m going to have to get good at camping because that’s probably how I’ll be spending the last 20 years of my natural life.
There are a few things you learn from camping videos – always wear a carbon monoxide detector, bears are less of a threat than other people, try to never need poop – but the main one is, life essentially only requires a few essential parts. The rest is fluff and trinkets invented through thousands of years of society. How many small succulents do you really need in your home? How many vases with some tits painted on them? Exactly, none. All you need is a large flat cleaver, a sleeping bag and a large empty Dr. Pepper bottle to piss in.
That said, I quite like sleeping in a bed, having the heat on and flushing the toilet, and it seems society is trying to stop me from doing those things for much longer. For example, look at this place in Deptford, which really begs the question: how much do you really need to live? We gave you a sink, didn’t we? Do you want a goddamn different?
The quick tour: Upstairs you have your bed shelf, with a mattress on a low futon stretched over it, and not much ceiling space (this flat poses the question: how much raw space do you really need overhead while you sleep? You don’t use that space . You are sleeping). This is also where your smoke detector, skylight and a huge skylight shines directly on your face when you turn it on live (this flat poses the question: why shouldn’t the big light be directly above your bed where your face goes? You put it off to sleep, you turn it on when you’re not in bed. How is this impractical at all?). That’s the whole bedroom tour (this flat asks the question: What else does a bedroom need? How much do you really need a bedside table, or a charging point, or a lamp?).
Downstairs you have an incredibly compact shower room (how much space do you need to poop and wash yourself and brush your teeth? No pirouettes there. Get in and out), a kitchenette (what are meals do you cook for which you need more than a kettle, a microwave and a fridge? If you want to do some Gordon Ramsay shit, go to a kitchen you share with five other people many floors and corridors away and cook your dinner there!) , a TV mounted behind a ladder (you can move your ladder around so you can see the TV, that’s not that awkward!) front door (no notes), and a huge ominous wardrobe that I’m not sure you can really fully opening due to the position of the sofa and which, as always, is visibly falling apart.
Here’s what £1,150 a month will get you, in Deptford.
Some notes: The first is a recurring scare of mine with any flat offering a TV. Of all the places in this apartment where a TV could be put, no normal person on earth would put it where he put it. If you asked 100 people to walk around this apartment with a Post-It note and stick it where they think the most practical place for a small flat-screen TV would be, only 1 percent of them would put their Post-It Hang it up there, and when they do a team of very calm scientists who gently take them by the arms and lead them to a facility.
There are a lot of absurdly mounted TVs in London, all in rental flats, all at insane impossible angles – you can’t watch this TV from the couch OR from the bed, making it almost completely pointless – and I know for the fact that if you emails the landlord and asks them if they can get someone to move it, they will just tell you “no” three months later before reminding you that a man is coming “in the fridge” at 7am tomorrow watch”, so you have to be inside all day. Watching television isn’t the most important thing in the world, but I think it’s more important as a form of escape if you live here.
Second, I’ve been doing this for several years now (and my mental health is fine, thanks!) and every year there’s a recurring real estate theme: we had mezzanines, we had the influx of Airbnb and the financial chaos post- pandemic we had beds in kitchens, we had small sinks. In a year of particularly serious murder-for-hire – there are people lining up on the street for open houses, there are people bidding above already high rents, there is a metallic taste of mania in the air – it was hard to see what 2022’s overarching theme is, but it’s this: paying more for two people to stay in a condo than for one.
“The split-level bed platform will really impress, as will the flat-screen TV and fully-tiled en-suite shower room,” the ad reads (it’s cheap to ask ‘Impress who?’ I know, but: Impress make on who?). “The flat is suitable for a couple to share and it will be cheaper for single occupancy.”
Why? Why is this flat – which is bad – cheaper for one person (already a bad flat for one person), than for two? Two people living in this shitty little apartment is already an inconvenience to both of them, and now they have to pay more for the privilege? Why? It is the same flat, whether one person lives in it, or two, or a hundred. Like: it’s still a piece of shit. Why is there a sliding scale of how much the piece of shit costs depending on how many people live in it? I do not understand that. Can someone explain that to me. In a way that actually makes sense, not a way that makes landlord sense.
I’m having a rhetorically logical discussion with the person who decided it was normal to put a ten-inch flat-screen TV behind a ladder, so I’ve already lost, and I’ll admit it. I’m going to see what the best little ax is for chopping firewood. The era of bricks and mortar and drywall is coming to an end soon. I’m ready to embrace Age of Polyurethane when it really comes into play over the next five years.
The post Rental Opportunity of the Week: This Tiny Apartment Has Barely Living Space appeared first on VICE.