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“I guess living in this space with such an affordable price means I don’t have to live on beans on toast,” explains Adelin. “I can eat the way I want.”
For Adelin, her property guardianship of an abandoned classroom in an old primary school gives her the freedom to lead the life she wants to lead. She pays peanuts to the owners so that their property is protected against vandalism and other problems that can befall empty buildings – but the downside is that she could be asked to leave with short notice.
London’s extortionate property prices are increasingly excluding young people from traditional ways of living, such as buying and renting. But, like Adelin, growing numbers are finding creative solutions to find space to call home – despite the capital’s unaffordable property market – and are seeing the benefits to less conventional living arrangements.
For Tomas, his squat is far more than just cheap housing. His palatial living space in an old church gives him the opportunity to be creative and experiment in ways that would be impossible in your average flat. His housemates’ band met their bass player there and play their music loud in the church’s grand hall.
Taking a step away from the property ladder also gives people the opportunity to reflect on why London’s housing situation is so dysfunctional in the first place. The capital is home to over twenty thousand empty properties, with a staggering 7,500 unoccupied council houses.
Squatting, property guardianships and living communally in shared spaces, such as converted warehouses or old factories, helps fill empty properties with people and open up new living opportunities.
But coming together to live in unconventional, shared spaces can also be fun, empowering and help create new creative communities. “It’s about going forces together and trying to make a change,” explains Tuttii. “We need to all communicate more, stick together and make a change.”
Find out more about the giffgaff Perspectives video series on VICE, which explores alternative, community-driven solutions to key issues affecting young people.