Despite all the disadvantages, like not having a place to call your “own” and restraining yourself from buying too many clothes out of fear that the next flat you’re going to rent won’t have the same amount of wardrobes, renting CAN be a blessing.
I have started renting about five years ago, when I moved out of my family home in Gdansk and relocated to London. Since then I have lived in six (!) flats. All of them had different sizes, advantages and disadvantages. They all taught me a lot.
1. You learn to live with less, therefore you also spend less. Each time I want to buy something, I ask myself three times these questions: Is it useful? Do I really need it? If it’s a piece of decoration – will I still like it next year? If we want to move, will it take a lot of space? Or: will it be easy to sell it once I don’t want it anymore?
2. It teaches you how to be creative. Rented apartments are often far from ideal. Dirty walls, overused grey curtains, some hideous colour of the sofa or old bathroom – these are just a few examples of my renting adventures.
Although it might be difficult to change the bathroom tiles, you can always make some small and inexpensive improvements. Paint the wall (of course with the permission of the landlord), get a nice throw to cover the sofa and get the basic IKEA curtains. These details will change the look and feel of the flat more than you think!
BEFORE: Our living room in the rented flat in Barcelona. The wall was originally mustard-yellow. We painted it white.
AFTER: I hung some IKEA frames on the walls with graphics which I brought from London galleries. I draped the sofa with white cover and a fake sheep skin. It looks better, doesn’t it?:)
3. Flea markets are great! I’ve never been a fan of buying used stuff… until I moved abroad. Back in my hometown people love to buy brand new things. A new vacuum cleaner? Pick the best one! A new table? The most expensive one, from a local designer. It’s understandable, as many of these people already own flats and will probably spend there a lot of years. However, I’ve learned that the good things don’t necessarily have to be expensive. It’s just a matter of looking for them. For example, I’ve recently bought a brand-new, still packed IKEA desk lamp for 5 EUR (normally worth 30) from a girl who announced it on a facebook group.
This lamp cost me €5. It was brand new and I found it through a Facebook group which I belong to.
4. It gives you flexibility. When you’re renting, you know that you can move anytime, anywhere. You are not held back by mortgage and you do not need to worry about leaving the flat for someone to take care of it when we’re moving to another place.
It gives you a sense of freedom and makes you feel like a real citizen of the World.
5. It teaches you to be happy with what you have and give less importance to material things. We all probably know it – you look around and start comparing yourself with people who already have mortgages and talk incessantly about redecorating their flats. After all, it’s nice to have your own cosy “nest”. That’s also one of my dreams, once i decide where I want to live. But for now I’m happy with my three-bedroom flat with a terrace in Barcelona, even though it’s not really mine.
Do you live in a rented flat? What would you add?