I was just at a house party at a 3 bed-room flat near London Business School.
We’re all students, and on a student budget. But this flat had a huge common space. And not just any common space. It’s a large room separated off in its own with a door. The kitchen is completely separate, down another hall.
In New York this common space is what they would call a 4th Bedroom. The apartment would consist of 4 bedrooms and a hallway (and a mini kitchen). But here in central London, its a 3-bedroom apartment with a common room. And, it’s cheaper than a NYC 3-bed apartment. Instead of piling people into a tiny space, Londoners prioritize having a space in their apartment for relaxing and social gatherings. If they need lower rent, they live further out.
Now, I’m not saying no Londoners have squeezed people into a flex bedroom. Or that no New Yorkers have a common space. But in NYC it was typical to rent out your common space, often with walls that don’t even come to the ceiling, just to cram more people in and afford the rent to close to the city center. This drives rent further up. Life becomes part of this ever moving, I-only-sleep-here, always on the go, never-relax, New York routine. In London, people work hard, but after work, you make time to relax and socialize. That much is evident by the 5pm migration to pubs any weekday.
Part of me feels like I am slacking. We have a good sized common room in our 3-bedroom flat. Shouldn’t we be renting it out for some extra dough?
But what would that money be used for? Nicer clothes? Fancier drinks? More time renting space in bars and restaurants? I’ve spent most of my evenings in London relaxing with my roommates in the common space.. and it’s great.
In New York I always prioritized location over size. But I am starting to see why slowing down (and having space, not just of the calendar-type) is a good thing.