One Way to Afford Living in an Expensive City: Live in an Abandoned Office

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but if you’re looking for some cheap rent, you could consider applying to become a “guardian” of an abandoned office building. Nicole Vloeimans, an NGO worker, pays $635 a month to live in one, according to The Wall Street Journal:

Ms. Vloeimans’s home is an abandoned office building once inhabited by squatters (“WE CALL IT EVOLUTION, U CALL IT A CRIME” reads graffiti in her kitchen). Squatters were evicted from her building last January. In exchange for the discounted rent, Ms. Vloeimans is meant to keep them from coming back.

The need for guardians is in part a consequence of Britain’s peculiar laws on squatting. It isn’t a crime to squat in an empty nonresidential building. It is a crime to remove a squatter without a lengthy civil-eviction court procedure.

So developers looking to rehab—or tear down—a building will fill it with guardians to keep the squatters away before work begins. The presence of guardians is often enough to deter squatters, because it is illegal to squat in an occupied building.

Vloeimans must ask permission to leave the building for extended periods of time to go on vacation, and she’s not allowed to host any parties. She may also be asked to move out at any time, but at least she’s given a month’s notice. Overall, it sounds like a pretty good deal! [Thanks to BFF Alex Balk for the pointer.]

Photo: Rob Stinnett

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

Susan Tidebeck (#5,691)

Wow, it’s a bummer that she can’t have parties because the space is PERFECT.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

Cheap rent AND a contractual excuse to never host parties? Sign me up!

aetataureate (#1,310)

Being a solitary female guard dog of an /entire office building/ sounds like my worst nightmare.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@aetataureate Yeah, i was imagining this being all tea and crumpets but real life London is a way more knife crimey than Masterpiece theatrey.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@EvanDeSimone Ahahahaha. I wouldn’t want to live alone in any office building where I was tasked with singlehandedly keeping squatters out, actually. No matter the city. (Here in Chicago, even.)

It seems ridiculous that these guardians have to still pay ANY rent.

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