Meet the Kiwi expat living in the 'Harry Potter Room'

The 'Harry Potter Room' (Supplied/Stella Nicholson)
The 'Harry Potter Room' (Supplied/Stella Nicholson)

There's a room in a London flat so small, it's called the 'Harry Potter Room'. It's literally a cupboard under the stairs, and Kiwi expat Stella Nicholson lives in it.

She moved from Auckland to London in 2015 for a change in scenery.

"I was 19 and I had lived in two major cities, and I wasn't going to meet anyone new, so I moved to greener pastures," she laughs. "Plus, I think I'd slept with everyone who wasn't my cousin."

However, England was a shock at first.

"I was on the tube from Heathrow Airport, and I texted my girlfriend at the time, saying, 'I've just arrived in London, there's no leaves on the trees, no one the tube will look me in the eye, and I just had to pay 20p to use a public toilet - what is wrong with this country?'"

And if you thought flatting in New Zealand was bad, try living in London.

Meet the Kiwi expat living in the 'Harry Potter Room'

The 'Harry Potter Room' (Harri Perillo/Facebook)

"All I can say is that quality of living is much lower than in New Zealand. I don't know how I can say that without making London sound like a shithole. Landlords are a lot more cutthroat, they can kinda do what they want with you.

"I know a lot of tenants that have just been turfed out with a couple of days' notice. Deposits not getting refunded, basic repairs not being done. Tenants' rights don't seem to be a thing here."

Then came her move to the 'Harry Potter Room'.

"Well, I was living in a house here with a lot of my friends, and we all had to go our own way. So I struck out trying to find a place of my own. I heard about these massive warehouses in north London that had been converted so a lot of people can live them in," she says.

"I saw an ad called 'Harry Potter Room for £350 a month.' And I saw they had two cats and a dog, and I was sold."

Meet the Kiwi expat living in the 'Harry Potter Room'

The 'Harry Potter Room' (Stella Nicholson/Facebook)

The room - about NZ$150 a week - lived up to its name.

"The guy showing it to me looked nervous, and I just said 'This is sick!' I really liked it," she says. "I'm not very big, I don't take up much space, so I don't need much space.

"I threw a party recently and heard someone ask if it was a squat. No, I actually pay rent to live here."

Ms Nicholson thinks the room has some advantages as well.

"I might not have a window, but at least it's always warm.

"I'm thinking of painting a window on one wall and sticking up different scenes every day. Paris, the seaside, that kind of thing."

But while the room fit her small size, some of the people hanging round may have been even worse than the Dursleys.

Meet the Kiwi expat living in the 'Harry Potter Room'

Punk's not dead, just all tuckered out (Stella Nicholson/Facebook)

"I love living here now, but when I first moved in it wasn't great. There were always a couple of really shady people hanging around. I don't know the whole situation but I think someone in the house owed them money. It was a bit scary, you'd come out in the middle of the night, and you'd see four big men you didn't know sitting around the table counting out cash.

"It all came to a head one night when a few of them burst in and threatened us and pushed us around, and I got a punched in the face and strangled. We called the cops and they stopped coming round. So I guess someone just had to take one for the team and take a beating."

But that wasn't the end of the story.

"About two weeks ago now, the cops came looking for those people. It was about eight in the morning when I heard someone coming into my room, so I leant over to tell them to f**k off. And there was a police officer in my cupboard, saying, 'Get out we, have a warrant.'

Meet the Kiwi expat living in the 'Harry Potter Room'

Stella during the police raid (Thara Darnton/Facebook)

"They kept saying 'get out', and I was like 'Um... I'm naked - can you throw me a shirt?' When I go outside in a T-shirt, my flatmates are out there getting handcuffed. They held us and searched the place for a couple of hours, but since the shady people had been kicked out by then the police didn't find much. They were really pissed off."

So, the final question. Did the Boy Who Lived have a better room?

"Well probably. I mean Harry Potter might have had it better off, I think his room might have been a bit bigger," she laughs.

"And I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts letter to arrive! 'You've been accepted - you can finally get the f**k out of this tiny room!'"