If there's one thing we Brits talk about more than the weather, it's property prices.
Dominating the conversation right now is the above "fully self-contained" studio in central London, which was advertised to rent earlier this week for 737 pounds a month, or $1,233. It was rented within hours of the notice appearing.
Let us restate that for you: some Londoner is paying more than $1,200 a month to sleep next to his or her kitchen sink.
The apartment, if we can call it that, apparently comes with an "en-suite bathroom" and "access to a shared roof terrace," neither pictured.
"We have had a fair few people who were keen, some were shocked that it was small," a spokesman for rental agency Relocate-me, one of several to advertise the studio, told The Independent. He added that his company had received at least 20 expressions of interest by Tuesday afternoon and was still receiving inquiries.
It's proof, as far as we're concerned, that we're all going to hell in a handcart (and a "compact" handcart where you have to do your dishes in the shower and pay $1,000 for the privilege, at that).
The signs were already there: last month this studio in west London was offered to rent for the princely sum of 536 pounds, or $942, per month. The "kitchen" is a fridge, microwave, kettle and pair of electric hobs piled up behind the bed, the shower a cubicle tucked opposite. Disturbingly, there's no evidence of a toilet — but at least someone's bothered to put a couple of generic art prints on the wall, you know, to make it homely.
That property seems to have been snapped up, but others still available include:
RightMove.co.uk/Berns & Co.
This "BARGAIN" (sic) — $1,297/month.
This studio where benefits include "double-sized lounge/bedroom" (double the size of what?) — $1,304/month.
This studio in north London, where you can shower next to your fridge and share a toilet "with one single professional" — all for $1,338/month.
Of course, London is far from the only city where floor space has hit the minimal and rents have hit the crazy. (Amirite, New Yorkers?!) According to management consultancy firm ECA International, which compared the cost of renting a three-bedroom apartment (good luck with that) in cities across the globe, Hong Kong has the steepest prices, followed by Moscow and then Caracas. Within Europe, Global Property Guide says monthly rents are highest in Monaco, followed by the UK, Russia, France and Switzerland.
As for smallest spaces, it's hard to beat the horror stories from Paris. In March, one landlord was fined for renting out a space that measured 1.56 meters by 1.56 meters for 300 euros ($408) a month to a tenant who lived there for 15 years. Other unscrupulous owners have been known to rent out converted cellars, storage cupboards and even the space for garbage dumpsters to desperate tenants.