Esther Baines | Contributing Writer | Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Are London\'s Student Halls For Grown-Ups Really A New Way To Live?

Are London's Student Halls For Grown-Ups Really A New Way To Live?

The Debrief: The Collective in London is here making grown-up communal living a thing. You're going to be in halls forever.

So, you’ve graduated. You’re a real adult, with a real adult job so, naturally, you have your own adult flat in which you live harmoniously with yourself or one significant other. 

Jokes.

Lol sorry. Living on your own is a far off distant hope. So far off in fact that one company has now actually started up grown-up student-esque halls for millenials to live in.

Cool.

Located in North London (Willesden Junction to be specific, great if you like the sound of trains, and living near a prison) Old Oak from The Collective, is a ‘communal living’ development consisting of ‘Twodios’ (ew) where residents will have their own bedroom (I use this term lightly, it's not quite a Harry Potter situation but you definitely couldn’t swing a house elf in there) and en-suite, but share a kitchen with other people and dining areas, a cinema room, games room, library and spa with roughly 548 others.

There’s also free use of DJ decks, TVs, cooking classes and the building gives £50 towards parties. Additions clearly designed to hide the fact that you’re house-sharing with 500 other people.

The idea of what basically is a glorified, more permanent hotel stay does have appeal. As well as these amenities, residents get a cleaner, linen change, staff summoned by text to ‘change lightbulbs’ etc., but at some point, I personally would want to go home, to somewhere I can walk around my room in my pants without someone barging in every morning to change the sheets and replace the biscuits. I would like unlimited biscuits, but there’s a reason we don’t live in hotels, so why are The Collective trying to make us do so?

Also, prices start from an eye-watering £250 a week.

Joanna Bucer, a community manager and resident, told the Mail Online: ‘there needs to be a step between graduating and real life.’ But, riddle me this Joanna, isn’t university meant to equip us for real life? Providing residents with cleaners and linen change seems to be a step back from the independence university gave us. We don’t need to be coddled, we need to be thrown into the real world so that the real world can keep on moving. No-one is ever ready for life after uni but it won’t slow down just because you aren’t quite ready to change your own sheets.

This concept has been seen previously in America. PureHouse has a similar concept; a room to rent in a communal house accompanied by activities on offer such as meditation. They also offer massages, yoga and fresh fruit and vegetables for a premium $4000 package. The lower prices start at $1600- but with the 30-day lease they offer, this could go up even more. With such a short lease, this seems more of a temporary fix, rather than a long term solution.

WeLive also was created in America- similar in the aspect of having wellness classes and cleaners, but one step further with the ‘sharing’ aspect- for the cheapest price point, $1375, you get a bed separated from your flatmates by a curtain.

The biggest issue with this whole concept is the fact it seems to be brushing over housing issues by providing a quick fix, still at a high price, when in fact there needs to be more assistance for young people to save up in order to actually own their own place.

Offering things such as a spa and ‘rooftop pods’ gives people the illusion they are getting things for free and that more than £1000 a month is an acceptable rate in London for a bed and less than a square metre of floor space, when this is actually around half of the average Londoner’s take-home pay. 

Shouldn’t the focus be on creating affordable, no frills housing for young people so the next generation can get on the property ladder, instead of distracting them from the fact they could be renting for the foreseeable future with ‘cinema rooms’ and a ping pong table?

The complex is aimed at young professionals, however the MailOnline show the first person moving in is a 44-year-old man photographed wearing a scarf indoors. Maybe take that as a hint, guys.

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Tags: University, Housing Woes