Blame Bridget Jones: Why a 'bachelorette pad' is the modern girl's impossible dream

Filming Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones didn't know how lucky she was... Credit: Laurie Sparham

Virginia Woolf started it, but it was Bridget Jones who took it the next level. After all, it was only when she danced around her living room, drank wine in the bath and vacuumed in her knickers that it all made sense – we women don’t just need a room of our own, we need a bachelorette pad.

Every romcom/TV show is on to this. From Carrie Bradshaw’s envy-inducing pied-à-terre in Sex and the City to Laura Linney’s British chic split-level flat in Love Actually, the real stars of the screen aren’t the actresses but their flats.

Rodrigo Santoro might have thought all eyes were on his topless bod when he was snogging Linney, but I was too busy lusting over the floral décor to notice his abs – and I doubt I was the only one.

My generation of young women has grown up with these pop cultural references gently guiding us towards the ultimate goal: a one bedroom split-level apartment complete with White Company candles, vintage finds and a statement bedspread.

The problem is that now we’re all in our twenties and early thirties (classic bachelorette pad time) and none of us can afford one.

Obviously most of us can’t afford to buy one - at least not without a partner to split the mortgage and borrow as much as the bank will allow – but these days, especially in cities, hardly anyone has the money to rent a one-bedroom flat either.

"These days, women aren’t living alone – they’re either with parents, room-mates or partners."

 

It’s only the actresses who lived in those dream apartments on-screen who can now afford them off it.

Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester had a four-bedroom home of her own before she married Adam Brody. Mila Kunis had an LA 4,900-square-foot estate before she sold it to buy somewhere even bigger with Ashton Kutcher. And now Cameron Diaz has become the latest female celeb to sell hers.

She had the ultimate bachelorette pad – a two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat in Manhattan – only she’s now flogging it for $4.25 million (£2.8m) after marrying Benji Madden. As she says goodbye to her single years, she says hello to more than a million dollars profit.

Us mere mortals know that such hefty price tags are the stuff of dreams. We don’t bother fantasising over these flats, because what’s the point?

But we’ve spent years dreaming of the modest ‘single girl’s flat’ from our favourite films - only to find out they’re just as unattainable as million-dollar mansions.

Out of dozens of young women in their twenties who I know, I can think of only one who has had the luxury to live alone (her parents gave her a deposit for a flat). Everyone else has to flat-share, or as I’m temporarily doing, move back home. These days, women aren’t living alone – they’re either with parents, room-mates or partners.

It means that we’re essentially skipping out that ‘independent bachelorette’ stage of our lives. We either stay in a teen-like state with our mums and dads, live with friends and turn into perpetual student-types eating too much pasta, or immediately take on the responsibilities of living with a partner.

Carrie Bradshaw had the ultimate bachelorette pad

For many people, of course, these options are the same ones they'd have chosen even if they had thousands in the bank. Not everyone wants to live alone with only a diary and tub of Ben and Jerry's for company.

But for a lot of us young women, it isn’t the ideal. It takes away our chance to learn how to be totally self-sufficient; how to truly enjoy our own company; and as Woolf said, it doesn’t always give us the space to be creative.

"Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days."
Virginia Woolf

 

But it can also lead to far worse situations.

Take the women – of who there are many – who make a premature decision to live with their partner purely because it makes economic sense. I know friends who took this option and found themselves financially stuck to a bad relationship.

“It was a horrible situation, but looking back, I don’t know what else I could have done at the time,” says one. “I couldn’t afford to live alone in London, and living with my then-boyfriend meant we shared a room and halved the rent. It was the only way I was able to do my masters degree.”

This kind of living situation is the norm for many 20-somethings Credit: Jonathon Williams

Woolf wanted women to have space and financial freedom to produce art, literature and fulfil their expectations. When she was writing in the early 20th century, she said: "Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days."

It’s 2015 and women have gone on to accomplish goals that would make Woolf proud. Most of us speak our mind without a second thought, and pursue our careers with as much ambition as men have had for centuries.

But when it comes to that simple task of having a room of our own and what would now be about £75,000 a year?

We might need another few decades before we finally get those bachelorette pads.