I am no stranger to sharing living accommodation – as a child I lived with my family, when I left for university I lived in shared student accommodation & a variety of shared houses; but I imagined that once I entered the Real World, and got a Real Job, that somehow things would be different. I thought I would perhaps buy somewhere to live, live on my own, or live with a partner; but I certainly did not think I would be back to sharing a living space with four other strangers when I am thirty years old.
Generally in Barcelona though, this is the done thing. Rental prices here mean a one bedroom flat would set you back around 700-800 euros a month, plus bills, depending on the area and whether you have any natural daylight in your boxroom. That would be a huge chunk of my salary (which isn’t bad at all for a Guiri type job like teaching, tele-sales or bar work) but wouldn’t leave me that much to play with – bearing in mind how easy it is to go out for dinner, to drink, to party here!
I spent maybe a year and a half living on my own in the UK. I loved the solitary life – I was surprised how much I enjoyed the freedom, the peace, the walking around naked; it is liberating! I thought I would be lonely, or miss the companionship of having someone there, but it was the best!
Living with other people inevitably means when you need the toilet someone is in the bathroom taking a seemingly never-ending shower, or when you’re hungry someone is cooking a four course meal in the kitchen & using every hob and kitchen appliance imaginable. Or when you have to work early the next morning someone is having an argument with their boyfriend at full volume at four o’clock in the morning. Or that when you need to do your laundry there is always, and I mean always, somebody’s clothes in the washer already.
In the flat where I live currently there are 5 bedrooms, for 5 girls (or women I should say). Luckily we have 3 bathrooms between us so the shower queue normally isn’t as bad as it could be, although somehow it does still happen! The main irritations for me here are the kitchen dilemma, and the washing machine. Included in the kitchen dilemma is the fridge & freezer space, of which there is very little. We each have a shelf in the fridge; and bearing in mind I used to happily fill a whole fridge to myself when I lived alone, this is not enough space. There is never room to chill my wine upright in the door – it is always crammed with milk, juice, or worse someone else’s wine! The salad I buy accidentally but inevitably ends up squashed against the back wall of my shelf, and freezes itself – thus becoming totally inedible. (That is one of my many excuses to not eat salad). There is always a slightly peculiar smell that you can’t quite put your finger on – it’s probably that shrivelled carrot or brown lettuce on someone else’s shelf, but it’s not your shelf so you can’t touch it.
The freezer is even worse – we have a measly 2 shelves between 5 of us, which would only be sufficient in a parallel universe where the freezer was actually Doctor Who’s Tardis or Mary Poppins’ handbag. Alas, it is neither. There is no room for vodka for a start. I mean, honestly, everyone knows that vodka should be kept in the freezer! Worse still, there isn’t even room for a bag of ice so my warm vodka is mixed with warm Fanta lemon without ice – disaster! I still manage to drink it though, so it can’t be all that bad. But I do wonder what crap everyone else has in there that takes up so much space. A box of frozen chicken nuggets appeared recently; there really is no excuse for that. There are at least 3 bags of frozen beans; and no-one seems to eat them. Why are they there? What purpose do they have? I recently discovered a great tip for chilling drinks when you have warm wine & there is no ice – use the cheapest bag of frozen produce you can find and chill the booze with that instead! That will surely help my predicament here, although if someone does actually eat the beans I might feel bad I stole them. Might. (Might not).
Having said all that, I do love the flat. It’s in the Gothic Quarter; surrounded by history, in the midst of a maze of narrow streets hiding all sorts of treasures in little shops, bars & restaurants. The rent is almost half what my friends in their own places pay. My bedroom is enormous – 2 single beds making one huge double, a sofa, desk, and 3 wardrobes which I’ve managed to fill very successfully, even though I still have plenty more clothes, shoes & handbags back in storage in Manchester. The whole place is recently reformed as they say here – it’s all in the style of the new flats in the UK or anywhere else I suppose – fake wood flooring, tasteful décor, nicely done. And there is a shared terrace on the roof where I can go & sunbathe or have a sly mojito or two in the evening. OK so it’s not perfect, but it certainly could be worse! And really I don’t spend that much time here; I’m either working, out in the city, or enjoying one of my friends’ own terraces where they live alone – so I guess I have the best of both worlds.
Wait a second, is that silence? I can’t hear any more movement in the kitchen, could it be that the flatmate who inspired this rant has finished her breakfast and got out the way of my Sunday morning munchies? Does this mean I can finally get into the kitchen & make my Breakfast of Champions – a Fry Up with a Twist?! I will investigate. That is if I have enough energy to make it to the kitchen. Fingers crossed……