I’m 65 and living in a flat – there are lots of people like me in the UK Anonymous

noThe 65-year-old live in a shared house near Salford, Manchester. I’ve lived here four years, maybe five—who’s counting? – and I share with four others. More and more people over the age of 60 find themselves in situations like mine. As a flat-share, there has been a 239 percent increase since 2011 in the number of seniors aged 55 to 64.

My housemates are all single men in their 40s and 50s, like me. I’m the oldest of the group, but age doesn’t matter much here, we all just handle ourselves. I think one of them works in construction, the other works at Tesco down the road from me. I wouldn’t say there’s much of a sense of community here. Shift work at low-wage jobs means we’re all rarely at home.

I can go downstairs to cook and eat, but the rest of the time, I stay in my room – a regular double in the converted council. There is a TV downstairs but I prefer to watch shows on my phone’s WiFi. There are often empty rooms, and often tenants leave at short notice, especially Eastern European tenants. Most of them seem to be leaving now. Who can blame them? Between lagging wages and the high cost of living, there’s little incentive to stay.

Overall, I can’t complain. I pay £100 a week to live here, including bills. It would be nice to have my own place, but the bills make it completely unaffordable – council tax, electricity, water, wifi. Who can buy it on a supermarket salary?

I was lucky to have a decent landlord who never raised the rent. He pops up every couple of days saying he’s doing a little maintenance around the house. In fact, he is sitting on his laptop in the kitchen. Some might find it intrusive that he’s here so often, but I don’t mind – he’s got a lot of kids at home and I think he likes the quiet.

Back in the day, I was offered a one-room council flat. Fifteen years ago I had my own council flat, but I moved when I was unemployed and looking for work. Back then, it was so easy to get a new one that you didn’t think twice about leaving a council tenancy. Not like now.

Where I grew up, in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, you couldn’t move to a three-room council house with a garden. Some of the houses were taken over by the children of former tenants, but all have now moved. You were not allowed to stay in a three-room apartment as a single person. Ironically, those council estates were constantly sold for pennies and nobody built three-bedroom houses.

You would have to be blind not to see that this is a direct result of the slow and deliberate erosion of poverty. If you’re a single person who can’t afford your own home, you might as well end up here. What is the alternative?

It might not look like the Ritz, but my living situation works for me. I’d rather stay here than live with family, I have more privacy and my own space. We have a cleaner who comes once a week. This winter I don’t have to choose between doing my shopping or turning on the heater. We have central heating and radiators in every room. In Manchester the houses are always wet in winter and must be heated. I don’t know how my co-workers who have kids and three-bedroom houses will handle the bill.

Luxury apartments in Manchester are increasing steadily from £250,000. The average salary here is £20,000 – you do the maths. Housing instability has been a worsening trend over the past 15 years. But I try not to think about it. Things could always be worse. On the up and up, I say.

As told to Lucy Pasha-Robinson.

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