I gave up renting in London to live nomadically – it has significantly enriched my life | Lydia Swinscoe

II’m writing this while sitting at a very nifty handmade folding desk in a compact one-bedroom apartment in Kentish Town. The cozy apartment’s dark wood floors are covered in thick woven Bhutanese rugs depicting tigers and mandalas. When I toast on the weekend, miniature Tibetan prayer flags in primary colors, hung above the toaster, dance in the growing heat. Bedroom shelves are overflowing with intriguing travel guides, musings on Buddhism, and titles touting the benefits of cold-water swimming; a good thing since Hampstead Heath’s Kenwood Ladies’ Pond is just a 35-minute walk away. Parliament Hill Lido is even closer.

This wellness apartment has been the perfect winter refuge and a place I immediately felt at home when I moved in three months ago. But next spring I will be living in a completely different place, in a completely new apartment or house, most likely in a new neighborhood, maybe a new city, maybe even a new country. These are the exciting unknowns of my fleeting life.

Three years ago I gave up on having a permanent home, leaving my home for various locations across the UK and beyond. My phone notes reveal that to date I have slept in 117 beds, in places ranging from the Scottish Highlands and Dorset coast to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and the avant-garde Georgian capital of Tbilisi , while maintaining a full-time job.

But most of that time I’ve stayed in London, the city I’ve lived in since I moved here 19 years ago as a shy but enthusiastic student. Flashforward to today and my nomadic lifestyle has allowed me to live across seven central London boroughs over the past 36 months, granting my curious nature permission to run wild. I’ve seen more of London in the last three years than in the previous ten years combined, simply because I’ve been able to familiarize myself with the local hotspots, wander streets I’ve never seen before seen before and discover some of the best restaurants. which non-residents might generally miss (Everest Curry King from Lewisham FYI). Knowing that I will only be in a certain place for a limited time forces me to really make the most of a place.

There have been downsides, of course: an episode of incontinent cat-sitting in Stamford Hill, a 2022 heatwave in a two-window flat in Clapton and an attempted break-in at the Hackney house I occupied alone. But the positives far outweighed the negatives, and by giving up having a permanent base to live in, I’ve been able to travel more frequently since I’m only paying for where I’m living at the time, be it in the United Kingdom or the United Kingdom. somewhere else.

I find my short-term accommodation through word of mouth, mainly through friends of friends. Sometimes I found a place on Airbnb, some times I slept with lovers or friends, sometimes I checked into a hotel, and as I mentioned above, I also experienced fart -sitting. And yet, miraculously, I didn’t find myself without a place to live once.

My last permanent residence was a wonderfully bright rental apartment, with excellent neighbors, a short walk from leafy Victoria Park in east London. This made the first step towards nomadism the most difficult.

I started out selling items I knew I wouldn’t need, and as a lifelong furnished renter, I didn’t have many of the possessions most people accumulate over the years. I’ve never owned a bed, for example, and the same goes for sofas and other large pieces of furniture. The books were quickly whittled down to the few I knew I would re-read – Patti Smith’s M Train, Deborah Levy’s Everything, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – while excess clothes were donated to the local charity shop.

Unlike my late grandfather, who cared for every item, I was never a collector, so after the initial decluttering, it was fairly simple to condense everything I owned into just a few boxes. Filled with personal memories, photographs, love letters, kitchen essentials and a few pairs of Alexander McQueen heels collected at sample sales over the years, I dropped off the packages that made up my life in a friend’s garage, where they stayed. Since then, I haven’t looked back.

Living nomadically, mostly with a 65 liter backpack, I became deeply aware of how much “stuff” we collect but don’t need. Everywhere – on TV, online, on billboards, on the sides of buses – we are bombarded with materialistic messages urging us to buy the latest gadgets, kitchen appliances (read: air fryers), household items. furnishings, latest fashion trends and miraculous beauty. some products. I’m convinced it’s a trap.

The endless, inescapable cycle of coveting items to buy, but having plenty of money and time to buy them, doesn’t make it feel like living well. I realized that I don’t want to spend my weekends repairing gutters, painting bedroom walls, or buying cutting boards and coffee machines, mattresses and pizza ovens. And so I borrow these objects instead, at the same time as I borrow people’s houses to live in. In return, the apartments and houses do not remain empty, and the friends or acquaintances I rent from get their rent or mortgage paid during this time. they are out of town.

Maybe this won’t work forever; maybe I’ll start wanting a place of my own. But for now, give me a nomadic life over a sedentary existence any day.

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