Reality TV

Can money buy love? Some answers from reality show ‘Rich House Poor House’

Families from opposite ends of the wealth spectrum switch lives for a week in the British series.

One of the biggest hits of British television this year has been the reality drama Rich House Poor House. The Channel 5 show got families from opposite ends of the wealth spectrum to switch lives for a week. The exchange entailed shifting homes, living on new budgets and getting to experience the perks and pitfalls of having or not having money.

In the first episode, the Williamses, Antony and Kayleigh, with their six kids, switch homes with the Caddys, James and Claire, and their five children. The Williamses belong to the bottom 10% of British earners, with a disposable income (after rent and bills) of about 100 pounds. The same figure for Caddys is upwards of 1,700 pounds.

The differences in their living conditions start with the houses. The Williamses live in a three-bedroom house with just one toilet that they have to share among the eight people who make up the family. During the week they appear on the show, they move into the Caddys’ seven-bedroom, seven-toilet house in posh Clifton, a mansion spread over four floors.

For the first night in their new house, the Williamses order in, as does Angela Carter-Begbie, a single mother who represents the lower end of the income divide in episode 2. Each episode has a new pair of families that trade places, but they do more than that. They also get to shop, dine and play at the places the other family frequents, entailing a taste of not just where but how the other lives.

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Rich House Poor House.

The shift occasions several heartwarming scenes. Antony decides to buy trainers for his son – shoes whose absence had prevented him for applying to the school football team. He also buys his wife a new necklace that he gifts her at a fancy restaurant that is a regular haunt of the Caddys. The intensity of both scenes – the son is ecstatic while Kayleigh breaks down – is a resounding yes to that old question about money and happiness.

With so much money at her disposal, episode 2’s Angela relaxes for the first time in years about her daily shopping. She gets to buy organic meats and better-quality foods at a price that is perilously close to her weekly salary. Later, she describes her joy at being able to shop unfettered, tears rolling down her cheeks at how lovely it is not to have to worry about money.

But Rich House Poor House does not just showcase the redeeming qualities of financial security. It also brings out the importance of financial discipline and the need to look after those less fortunate than us. Both James and Terry Bentley, the top 10-percent-er from episode 2, come from humble beginnings and appreciate that their wealth is the result of both hard work and luck.

Terry’s daughter Kaylee, who has trouble settling into the Carter-Begbies home, has a moment of revelation when she and her parents talk about finances. Since her movement into Angela’s house, Kaylee has not gone out to eat or visited a spa – the Carter-Begbies’ weekly budget does not permit it. “We like to see you enjoy the money we have while we can,” her mother says, and Kaylee, whose parents are getting on in age, breaks down.

Ultimately, Rich House Poor Houseis a hopeful look at how, while it bestows luxuries, there are things that even money can’t buy. When she returns to her modest accommodation at the end of episode 2, Angela says, “It’s lovely to be back home. Home is where the heart is.” All the comforts in the world cannot ensure the togetherness that a familiar abode with loved ones provides.

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Rich House Poor House.
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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.