In my youth I moved home a few times a year. As a young hack moving home and job every year was a way of life. I finally settled and have lived in my current home for ten years. Now I might be on the move again and this is causing me some anxiety: so much so that I’m up at 6am telling you about it.
I have applied for a number of jobs in various parts of the country and secured interviews. This is a good thing, I know, but moving doesn’t have the excitement in did now my life no longer fits in the back of a Ford Fiesta.
I once lived in a back room in a house above a chippy: I had a single bed and a constant yearning for fish, chips and mushy peas. I’ve also lived in glamorous places in posh parts of London and even overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Over the years I’ve shared my homes with more than 15 people. Flat-sharing is becoming an affordable option again, but I refuse to do that. I’m old enough to remember Friends first time around and I knew the lack of dirty dishes (and arguments about them), the lack of slanging matches about the noise and the lack of bitterness over who was watching what on the telly was completely unrealistic.
I like where I live now. It is familiar, I have people I can lean on and get drunk with, sometimes simultaneously, close by. I know which is the best curry house. I know where to go to pay less for my favourite wine. I know which pubs to avoid, which people to avoid. I wonder if I’m too old to learn all this again. I’m also exhausted by the idea of packing everything up, driving it in a van to wherever and unpacking it again – for a job.
I also fret about moving Chaplin. He’s not a cat who deals well with change and the idea of spending my first few weeks in a new home cleaning up his vomit and offering cat counselling each day, before and after work, seems stressful for us both. Here he has a park at the end of the garden and I fear anything less would outrage him.
But this is what happens when jobs are hard to come by and, depending on what the Secretary for Work and Pensions says at the time, workers have to get on their bikes or on the bus.
Our lives, our comforts, our need for security and familiarity are of no concern and no value. We have to up sticks and move. We always have. The family history I researched showed my family arriving from Ireland and then schlepping all over England in search of work, paying extortionate private rents to landlords, then moving again when work dried up.
I’ve started to search homes already. I’ve lost hours, virtually touring two-up-two-downs imagining me and Chaplin in them. Then I start to worry about the cost of rent. I currently live in social housing, in a not-for-profit housing association home where my rent is fairly fixed – there have even been occasion when it has been reduced.
A report by First Direct bank revealed that the average salary for a 20-something is £21,000 but they would need to earn twice that to match the lifestyle of their parents.
This, of course, makes absolute sense because the cost of living has increased but wages have decreased.
Meanwhile, a poll by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors revealed that the level of demand for rented accommodation is at its highest in the 12 years of the survey being conducted and, unsurprisingly, 25 per cent more surveyors saw demand for rented accommodation rise in the past quarter than fall, while 34 per cent more saw the price of rents increase rather than dip.
Ultimately, it is once again cheaper to buy than to rent and a Halifax survey, published in August, revealed a typical monthly mortgage payment is now £567, £110 less than the average rent.
But the banks are being tight when it comes to mortgages and demanding huge deposits which one can’t afford to save while paying inflated rents.
This is why, it seems, that one in five young graduates had to move back home and nearly a quarter of men in their 30s still lived with mum and dad in 2009 – gaining the nickname “the boomerang generation”. Two years on and 27% of new UK university graduates will be living with their parents; three million adults are living at home – including 196,000 adults over age 36.
So over the next two weeks I will visit two locations for interview. I want to think that I’m seeing if I want to work for the company, not just if the company wants me, but wonder if this sort of thinking is now a luxury.
But I must stop fretting. I might not get either job yet …
My current rent: £261 per month for a one-bedroom flat
My rent if I move: £400 – £500 per month for a one-bedroom flat