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When flatsharing is the only option

By David Brandt and Ivana Kottasova, CNN
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Monte Carlo, Monaco, is the most expensive city in the world to rent an apartment, according to Global Property Guide. The average rent there, in U.S. dollars, is $10,099 a month for an apartment that is 120 square meters (about 1,292 square feet). Click through the gallery to see other expensive locations on the list. Monte Carlo, Monaco, is the most expensive city in the world to rent an apartment, according to Global Property Guide. The average rent there, in U.S. dollars, is $10,099 a month for an apartment that is 120 square meters (about 1,292 square feet). Click through the gallery to see other expensive locations on the list.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 15% of people living in London share their homes with people they are not related to
  • With higher rents in many cities, people who are 40 and more are forced to share

(CNN) -- Paul Bailey shares his London home with two strangers, Alejandro and Fernando.

More than a million people in the British capital now live in flatshares. And while this kind of living arrangement used to be associated with students and youthful television sitcoms, more and more mature people find themselves living with strangers.

Like Bailey, who is 43.

"What we are seeing now more than ever is an increase in the amount of people over 40 looking for flatshares," Matt Hutchkinson from flatmate-finding service Spareroom said.

Rising rents prompts roommate search

"At the moment, one in eight people in flatshares is over 40 and that's a real shift from three to

four years ago," he says.

Bailey was forced to find flatmates after separating from his partner of 15 years.

"It was a fleeting thought that 'oh my god' I'm going to have to do it again. I'm 43 years old," he said. "The last time I lived with someone was in my 20s -- how is this going to work?"

With rents in London reaching the double of the national average, sharing is often the only option.

UK Census figures show that 15% of people living in London share their homes with people they are not related to.

In the U.S., the numbers are also rising. The number of shared households involving flatmates who are neither related to each other nor a couple grew by one fifth in the decade between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. census.

In New York City alone, the number of flats shared by strangers reached 200,000 in 2011.

Websites helping people find their ideal flatmates, such as Spareroom, Flatshare and Roombuddies are booming. Spareroom says it saw a 20% increase in the number of people looking for roommates in January compared to last year.

In New York City, 2,500 room offers in shared properties were posted on advertising site Craigslist in the first four days of April.

As for Paul Bailey, he seems to be happy with his new living arrangements.

"It's been three, four months and it's been brilliant. I come home and see the little light on and go 'yay', I've got someone at home, I have someone to talk to," he said.

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