What I Rent: Ben and Emma, £1,100 a month for a one-bedroom flat in West Norwood

Trying to find somewhere to live in London can be tough.

You’ve either got to sacrifice a lot of money, a lot of time on your commute, or your reluctance to live in a tiny box room with a rubbish toilet.

If you manage to find that magical trifecta of a nice place, a decent location, and a reasonable price, you’d better hold on to that renting opportunity, tight.

But also, we’d quite like you to share it with the world so we can see that a great place to rent in London does actually exist.

Our weekly series, What I Rent, shares these lovely places, the sh*t places, and all the properties in between so we can take a proper look at what renting is like.

Last week we were in Muswell Hill with Tessa and Rob, who pay £1,400 a month between them for a two-bedroom flat.

This time we’re hanging out with couple Ben, a 25-year-old motion graphic designer, and Emma, a 25-year-old graphic designer, who share a flat in West Norwood in London.

Hey, Ben! How much do you and Emma pay to live here?

Rent is £1,100 which we split between us, bills are around £247 a month including council tax.

We have one bedroom, a living room, a study, a bathroom, and a kitchen. So that’s five rooms and a balcony.

For the space we think it’s quite a good deal.

And you have a vegetable garden! Was that important when you were looking for a place?

Our balcony is a super important space for us in our flat, we love the outdoors and need a bit of that connection everyday.

Upon embarking on our journey into a more sustainable lifestyle we created a vegetable garden on our balcony which has helped us appreciate food a lot more.

We’ve had a decent harvest of carrots, lettuce and rocket this summer and are looking forward to growing more stuff.

How did you find the flat?

We found the flat on Rightmove, and have been here for 10 months now.

Are you happy where you live? 

We are quite happy where we are.

We both love the area for its green spaces and having Brockwell, Dulwich and Crystal Palace just a short walk away is great. We’re spoilt for choice when going for the Saturday morning Parkrun.

There is a good sense of community in the area, with monthly events like the West Norwood Feast.

It’s a very convenient location with the high-street a short walk away, which has some great eateries and independent shops.

The high street seems to be always developing with new shops and our current favourite is the ‘Sustenance’ pop-up, zero waste shop.

There are also some great pubs and breweries near-by, which is always a good thing to have if you’re craft beer lovers, like us.

It’s easy to reach Clapham and Brixton by public transport so we spend a lot of time there rather than in central London.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

It’s ideal amount of space and couldn’t ask for more. Our previous flat was only a one room studio so it’s a welcome change from that.

This place gives us room to do our own thing, such as working late into the night and not disturb one another.

We also now have enough space to have friends over, with the living room doubling up as a second bedroom using our sofa bed.

What’s it like living together?

It’s awesome living together, we both chip in and help each other out with cooking and cleaning which makes life so much easier.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

Our flat came unfurnished which at first we were dubious about but quickly became excited about after moving in. Furnishing the whole place has been lots of fun!

The furniture is mostly Ikea and we costomised our wardrobe shelves to suit our needs. Our aim is to kept each room quite minimal.

We both love plants so we made sure that every room has a few plants in to liven it up a bit. You’ll also find lots of prints from local artists and friends scattered around the house.

And there are some DIY bits…

We like to save money and help the environment wherever we can and feel like upcycling is a great and creative way to do that.

We’ve been pretty lucky and managed to find a load of wooden crates last winter which we have lined and turned into our planters for growing veg.

We also stacked some palettes from my work place and then stuffed some coffee sacks with pillows to create a sofa on our balcony.

We use lots of jars in the kitchen to store pulses and grains and use them in the bathroom to store homemade cosmetics.

Do you have plans to move again?

Not anytime soon, we really enjoy where we live.

And what about buying a place?

Not a chance, the cost is way too high and we don’t like the idea of being tied down.

We’re just excited about the veg garden, honestly. Shall we have a look around?

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected]

You’ll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.

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