London leavers: how two friends swapped a Tooting rental for a nicer home in Bristol without changing jobs

Ruth Bloomfield
·2-min read
<p>Michael and Tamara moved from Tooting to Bristol</p> (Michael and Tamara)

Michael and Tamara moved from Tooting to Bristol

(Michael and Tamara)

After leaving university, Michael Rossiter and Tamara Toothill did what generations of young graduates had done before them and beat a path to London to start building their careers.

When the pandemic hit, the friends, who met while studying at the University of the West of England in Bristol, were living in a “falling apart” maisonette in Tooting. “It was interesting to say the least,” said Michael, 26.

“It was very bare minimum. There were certain cupboards you didn’t want to open in case they fell and the bathroom had no ventilation. At one point our shower was just a pipe coming out of the wall.”

Michael paid £650pcm for the pleasure of living in the maisonette, which they took on in 2019. Tamara, 25, a content writer, paid £500 because she had a tiny single bedroom. “We were both very unhappy and when the pandemic began we both went home, which I think gave us time to reflect,” Michael said.

The friends enjoying their new WFH life
The friends enjoying their new WFH life

“Tamara said she didn’t want to go back to London when our lease ended, and I started thinking about moving back to Bristol. Being at home made me realise how much I had missed being more in nature than you are in London. It does have green spaces, but they are all so busy.”

Tamara decided that she would join Michael in Bristol and in November they moved into a two-bedroom flat in the Old Market area of the city, just east of the city centre and close to one of its biggest parks.

They each pay £575pcm in rent and are loving the modern, spacious apartment. “It is not much cheaper than Tooting, but it was not how much we were paying that was the problem, it was the quality of what we were getting,” said Michael. “It feels like home and we are so much happier.”

Tamara can work from home and Michael started a new job in November with a Hoxton-based company.

“They were really open to having the conversation about me working from home, I think it is just the way the world is going,” he said.

“Weirdly, though, I am looking forward to when I can go back into the office because I think WFH does take its toll. I would expect to go in a few times a month, but not more than once a week, when I can.”

Room rents in London and Bristol compared

Demand for rooms to rent in Bristol is up four per cent on this time last year, according to SpareRoom’s quarterly rental index, with monthly prices up two per cent to £551. Meanwhile demand in south-west London is down 27 per cent, with average room rents down nine per cent to £746 a month.

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