Ollie Peart: Modern Mann

Host of “The Zeitgeist” on The Modern Mann Podcast

I’ve written about many things in my life. That’s right, many things. I described in a few sentences what my pasta collage was all about when I was seven. I scribed an epic two sides of A4 covering, in detail, “My Perfect Day” when I was 11. When I hit my examination years, my creative writing exam challenged me to write about “The room you are sitting in”,at the time a 1960’s freezing cold gymnasium with coloured lines on the wooden floor that made no sense. Like I said, I’ve written about many things, but I have never written about anything quite so inane, dull, uninteresting, monotonous and tedious as moving house.

Flick through almost any newspaper (who actually does that, print is dead*) and somewhere buried in the ink seeped pages will be multiple articles, advertorials, ads and pull-outs all covering homes, housing and moving house. If you’re like most people, you just peek at this briefly wondering how on God’s earth anyone can afford a £3.2 million stately home just outside Surrey. But if you take time to read the spaff, you’ll quickly find it’s as dull as dishwater.

But for the last three weeks moving house has consumed my life and, with it, any other vaguely interesting thing that I may have been thinking about. It is something that, at some point in our lives, we all have to do.

Depending on which “facts about moving” article you read, the average person will move three times before they are 45 or five times before they are 30. I know, bad stats. The point is, we all do it, and we all hate it. It’s expensive: the average move costs roughly £9000, with the average

person moving eight times in their lifetime (another bad stat). That’s £72,000 you’ll spend on moving house throughout your life, and that’s not even taking into account the lost days at work, the lost years on your life through stress or the cost of losing stuff in the move.

My move has been made all the more painful by the fact that I rent rather than own. I am one of those millennials that estate agent Strutt and Parker said could save £33,000 a year by giving up coffee, takeaways and the gym. Good one. Statistically, as a reader of this magazine, you are likely to be a millennial; a me, a gymgoing, take away-scoffing, flat white gulping, mobile-upgrading socialite who should just pipe down for five years to save the £33,000 needed to plop a deposit on a house.

And I’m here to tell you, from my recent experience, if you can’t afford a house, don’t bother saving up for a deposit. What’s that going to achieve? We are obsessed with home ownership in this country, and it is becoming a problem. The generation before us saw housing as an investment, not something everyone should be entitled to. An actual fucking money tree that grew faster than Japanese knotweed. It gobbled up the market, pricing out your average Joes and Janes. As of March, house prices were 7.6 times more than the average salary, up 256% from 1997, when they were just 3.6 times the average salary. How the hell are we supposed to keep up with that? We don’t get paid enough. In that same period salaries rose only 68% and our jobs are less secure. On top of all of that we are expected to pay though the arse for rent.

Giving up coffee and eating fewer sandwiches isn’t going to solve the problem. Rent control and building decent, affordable housing is. Do that though, and that £3.2 million country house outside Surrey begins to look a little ridiculous and loses its value. Landlords’ rent income drops and all of a sudden those investments become less meaningful. And rightly so. Bricks and mortar are an essential. They are a necessity, not a money-making device that you just treat as a cash machine.

There’s a lot to get depressed about isn’t there? And as you can probably tell I’ve been thinking about this a lot while putting together flat pack furniture and trying to work out the boiler. But it’s not all awful. I mean, we have a house. A lovely one too. And along the way you stumble across things you forgot you had. Old photos, school reports and that cable you’ve been looking for since 2013. FFS.

But do you know the best bit? The part I’m most looking forward to? Simple. Joining the gym I’ll never use and trying out all the new takeaways and coffee shops that are just around the corner. It’ll be the best £33,000 I ever spend.

The exception being this publication which has identified a model in which print can thrive once more! (Gizza pay rise ed)

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