Can You Find The Perfect Flatmate In 60 Seconds?
The Debrief: Wouldn’t it be great if you could just go to a pub and find your perfect flatmates and a potential property over a few pints? Frederica Palmer gives SpeedFlatmating a go...
Having graduated from university back in July, the time has now come for me to move out of my mum’s home and find a place of my own. So, I decided to join the other 4 million users already signed up to SpareRoom and begin my search. It was there that I found out about the weekly SpeedFlatmating sessions that run across London, and because I’m also on the hunt for a couple of flatmates I decide to put my name down for the Oxford Street session (which is only 10 minutes away from where I work).
And that’s how I found myself exchanging £3 (if you book in advance it’s only £2) to enter a nightclub that looked like the birth child of Benidorm and the Magaluf strip, all in the hope of meeting a potential flatmate or landlord.
If you haven’t been to an event before you’re encouraged to bring a long a friend, because meeting a room full of strangers in an unknown place can actually be a bit daunting. As I’m already planning on living with one of my old flatmates we decided to go together and advertise ourselves as a pair. At this point it occures to me how much this whole set up sounds more like a dodgy underground prostitution ring that it does a safe and relaxed environment to find a housemate.
After you’ve paid your entry fee you’re given a sticky label to fill out. If you’re looking for a room your sticker will be pink and if you have a room to let then your sticker will be white. You’re also given a buddy up sticker if you’ve attended the event in the hope of finding a flatmate ahead of finding a flat. On your sticker you put your first name, a rough idea of what zone you want to live in and what your monthly budget is. So you might want to figure all of this out before you go.
Once you’ve filled out your information tag the nightclub is your playground. The sessions run for two hours and roughly 100-200 people attend each one. As we arrived bang on time the venue hadn’t really filled out so we decided to get a few drinks for Dutch courage, and unsurprisingly the bar turned out to be a popular place to meet people. Unfortunately for me the first guy I met decided to introduce himself by placing his head between myself and my friend and then spent an awkwardly long time reading our labels (aka staring at our breasts) before proclaiming that he was very happy to learn we were both nice young ladies looking to buddy up. At this point, we ditched him, downed our drinks and swiftly ordered another (this time a double).
Thankfully, not everybody took this guy’s approach to making a first impression. Most people approached someone with either your classic ‘hello’ or by making a nice visual gag where they faux awkwardly bend your head to read their information label (who doesn’t like an ice breaker). If you’re going to the session in a pair you may also find that people are more likely to approach you if you’re sat down with a spare seat either side of you or if you’ve separated off. Oh, and pretty much everyone comes straight from work, so don’t worry too much about dressing to impress.
When I first heard about speed flatmating I envisioned your classic table set up and having 60 seconds to talk to whoever was sat opposite, but being able to mingle around the room and pick and choose who you spoke to was a far better method – and in a post-Tinder world, I think we’re all pretty comfortable making rash judgments about total strangers based on how they look, aren’t we?
The sessions are also a great way to work out how much money you should be spending if you aren’t sure. Most people had budgeted themselves at the £600 mark, but I spoke to one aspiring actress who had put herself at no more than £450 and was quickly realising she was going to have to rethink her allowance. There was also one man who had put £100,000 as his monthly budget, but when questioned admitted he’d only gone to the event to meet new people.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find my perfect flatmate, but I'm going to try a different session next week – just because you never know. Anyway, I still had a great night, met some really interesting people and ended up dancing along to S Club 7 on a flashing dancing floor after a few too many double rums – not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night, really.
Picture: Lukasz Wierzbowski
Follow Freddie on Twitter @FreddiePalmer92
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