|Jingmei’s view of flat shopping
Tough life in Oxford dorms
Its 11am on a Saturday and I’ve just woken up a house full of serious
party people. I didn’t plan on disturbing such fun kids, but I’m on a
mission. I’m on a mission from Jingmei to find a place for us to live
between the time she arrives at the end of this month and when her
University dorms open on the 22nd of September.
Since my arrival, I’ve been living on my very generous friend’s spare
bed, and looking for a place to live every day I can. It’s a lot harder
here than I remember it being in DC. There, I was able to find a place
pretty quick, within a week or two, and in the cool & central
This time around, London is proving to be a bit more difficult. I tried
to look in Oxford first, so I could be near Jingmei while she was
studying, but the high housing prices and low job opportunities drove me
south to London. Only here are there enough cheap places and high paying
jobs for me to survive.
Still, places are not cheap. The party house, where dirty clothes and
pot bongs littered the floor and beer cans formed odd statues in the yard,
a small room was going for Â£400 a month, which is $600 USD! Certainly a
bit more than a similar spot in Moscow or Beijing and near the maximum, I
can bear to pay with my current bum status.
Jingmei is shocked at the whole flat shopping process. Living at home
and then alone in her brother’s apartment, she never really looked for
place in Beijing. Also, with such strong family bonds, Chinese in general
don’t live outside their home unless they’re already married. She
did do a stint in a dorm at university though the swank yet cheap Oxford
dorms don’t help her understand my plight at all.
Here in the West, group living is normal, especially by us crazy youth
in urban centers, due to our independent ways and high housing costs. Men
and women, straight and gay, black and white, all doing our best to get
along and get ahead in the super-competitive life we live.
One look around the party pad, and I knew I wasn’t living there. I’m
still looking for a place, and Jingmei is still in shock. Maybe she’ll
understand better when she’s sharing a kitchen and a bathroom in her
dorms. Then again, maybe she will not.