What I Rent: Matthew and Charles, £2,230 a month for a flat in Chelsea

Back to London, back to the reality of paying thousands of pounds for a one-bedroom flat in the city.

While What I Rent, the series about the reality of renting, was flying high last week with Sophie, who pays £525 for a flat all to herself in Sheffield, we’ve landed back in London with a bump.

But that’s the point, really. We’re not here to make everyone feel better about throwing their money into a renting pit, but to take an honest, no holds barred look at how people are living.

This time around we’re in the fancy bit of London, Chelsea, with Matthew and Charles – a married couple sharing a one-bedroom flat and splitting the costs down the middle.

Hi, Matthew! How much do you pay to live here?

We pay £515 a week which is about £2,230 a month. We split this down the middle.

Bills are around £200 to £300 a month.

And what do you get for what you pay?

We have a very small entrance, a living room, a bedroom, and one bathroom.

Do you think you have a good deal?

Yes and no. The flat is quite small and storage is minimal but we have an amazing location, a huge window at the front, the front door to the old house (with classic Chelsea columns), and a balcony at the front where we have plants and flowers, so this balances everything back out.

How did you find the flat?

Charles found this online on Rightmove while he was home in Canada and agreed to the flat while having only seen it on Facetime… Rather brave.

We’ve lived together for a year and a half and Charles had this flat for a year prior to that. Before we lived together I lived in Marylebone and Little Venice.

Do you like the area?

Yes, absolutely. Chelsea has a snooty reputation but we couldn’t love living here more.

Our neighbours on our street are lovely and are actually neighbourly, unlike places we’ve lived in elsewhere.

We’re seconds away from the Saatchi, the Royal Hospital, the King’s Road, Peter Jones, and a short walk from the V&A, the river, and Battersea Park. It couldn’t be better.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Again, yes and no. We’ve had to be ruthless with what we own and there’s a huge amount of stuff packed under our sofa and bed – airtight ziplock bags are a godsend – but we don’t feel like we’re on top of each other and have just enough room for Charles’ obsession with chairs… Although he does have a further four in storage.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

We’ve gone through rounds and rounds of decorating the flat. Starting off with Ikea furniture we then sold or recycled before buying antique furniture and pictures at auction.

Buying antiques is usually a lot cheaper than buying brand new furniture and it’s also much more environmentally friendly, which is something we all have to consider now.

The chairs in the flat are between 300-250 years old and still solid and almost as good as new. We’ll keep them for the rest of our lives and repair them if they break.

How would you describe your interior style?

Retirement home-chic. Our friends like to tease us that we’re old before our time but we both like antique furniture and old pictures and it’s something we’re pretty sure very few young people share, so we’re glad we found each other.

We haven’t been able to make any changes to the flat, unfortunately, and that’s something we really wish we could do. Our landlord has been ok with us using the front balcony for plants and flowers, though, which has helped a lot.

What’s it like living with your husband?

Great! We’ve heard scare stories from friends who moved in together and had major issues but we couldn’t be happier.

When we’re home we spend our evenings scouring auction sites for antiques and incorrectly catalogued paintings we can get for a steal or researching our new-found love of 18th century French porcelain – we really are a pair of 75-year-olds, and we like it like that.

Recently we spent many an evening looking into the big picture above the drawers as we didn’t know who it was and fancied finding out. It turns out it’s a portrait of Prince George of Denmark who was the husband of Queen Anne (back in the news recently for The Favourite) and was a gift from the royal couple to the Earl of Jersey who was the head of her royal household in the late 1600s!

Do you have any plans to move again?

We aren’t planning on moving any time soon, but who knows! We’d really like somewhere with more storage or a second bedroom so guests wouldn’t have to sleep on the sofa when they visit, but we shall see.

And what about buying a place?

In this economy? All jokes aside, yes, but it’s definitely a way off.

If you haven’t guessed, we’re semi-nutty people so we often think about working towards buying a dilapidated chateau in rural France and restoring it ourselves and then turning it into a a part-time holiday rental/wedding venue part-time getaway location. But, again, this is some time off but definitely what we want to do in the future.

Buying in London probably isn’t that feasible for us at the moment and also isn’t really something we’d desperately want to do.

The chateau sounds dreamy and we’ll be expecting an invite. Shall we have a look around the flat?

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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