Saturday, November 08, 2014

moving out!

We're moving out!!! I'm so excited!! We applied for a place on Thursday and they phoned Hugh almost immediately, then called our bosses, then approved us. I worked from home on Friday and kept looking around at different things in our apartment and thinking, "I don't have to put up with you much longer!"

The house we applied for has been on the rental market for ages and no one has been interested in it. We ourselves viewed it twice, a month ago, and didn't take it. I loved it the first time we saw it, so when we went back the second time, I tried to be really objective and focus on the negatives. But I just noticed more things I loved! We've been debating back and forth about whether we should apply, because the location wasn't ideal. Finally, we decided to go for it.

Here's what we were looking for in a new home: more space, particularly for things like crafting and building, but also a bigger kitchen; a location that would reduce my commute to work; a location that would put us closer to town or in a younger, hipper suburb; someplace we could have BBQs, because an Australian who is not barbecuing is not living the Australian dream; preferably, a house, with no one living above, below, both sides, and with a balcony that looks directly onto ours.

This house has Loads more space. More space even than lots of the other properties we viewed. It has both a front and back garden, albeit small, but neither has a lawn so Hugh is happy about that. He doesn't want to mow. We could have a BBQ out the back. And it's a house. There are neighbors either side, but none of our windows look into their windows, and there is an wide alley separating us from the neighbours at the back.

But the location. It's only two train stations further into town than we currently are, so doesn't cut my train journey down by much. The train station is a 15 minute walk away, and there's no tram on the doorstep, or anywhere near. Our friends are still unlikely to want to trek out there to visit us, so we will still be home-bodies. And the road it's on is kinda busy and noisy. These are the reasons we hesitated to take it.

Then I looked up buses, and realised that there's a bus just down the road that takes me to the train station where my regional train to work stops. I.e. instead of taking a tram, a train, another train, and a third train to get to work, I can just take a 20 min bus, and one train. Boom.

And I decided that I want to take swimming lessons this summer cuz I never learned proper strokes or how to breathe while swimming, and there's a big "leisure centre" just down the road that offers adult swimming lessons!

There is much more that we love about this house, but I might save that for when we move in and I can do a photo tour. Here is a preview:  Isn't it just TOO DAMN CUTE?!?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

the property game

Hugh and I are looking for a new place to live. There is an ad running on TV at the moment that says that Melbourne doesn't have a property market; it's a property game. While I don't agree that those two are mutually exclusive, finding a home here is certainly a game.

[It appears that, after telling everyone we were moving to Sydney in November, we failed to tell a significant number of people that we are NOT, in fact, moving to Sydney at all.]

Here's how finding a new place to rent works in Melbourne: is the most widely used website, and has a pretty good app. You star the properties you want to shortlist, then there's a feature where you can view all the properties being shown on a given day, in chronological order of when they're being shown, so it's easy to plan all your viewings. Here's what that looks like:

I love the little "time to relax" drink at the bottom of the list 😄

That's part of the dumb, game-y bit: real estate agents only show a property once on a given day, and for only 10-15 minutes. They might show a property twice in one week, but usually they'll only show it once a week.

At any given viewing, between 6 and 16 people will show up. Since most people shop by neighborhood, we'll go to one viewing on Saturday morning, then continue to see the same people at subsequent viewings. This could engender some form of comraderie, except that this is a game, and we are competitors. These bastards might snatch this AMAZING property from right under your nose!

The agent doesn't do much. They open the door to let the flood of people in, then stand outside handing out applications to the interested parties. And unless you hate the place, you take an application. When you're only given 10 minutes to see a place, and there are 15 other people there, it's difficult to make a decision on the spot. I'm amassing quite a collection of applications myself.

Of those 16 people you viewed the property with, whoever gets their application in first is considered first.

But most places aren't amazing. This is the other shitty part of the property game: apparently, the landlords have all the power. There is a huge epidemic of "investment properties" in Melbourne, as in, anyone with a bit of cash buys up properties, then rents them out to young people, who can't afford to buy properties because they've all been bought up already. The plus side of this is that, as a renter, there is a wide variety of properties available to rent; apartments, houses, warehouse conversions, you name it.

The downside is that most landlords can't be bothered to put any money into their investment property, so houses that are in awful condition get rented out in awful condition. We viewed one place in a gorgeous neighborhood, very convenient to the city, which had a breakfast nook with rusty brown marks showing through the peeling, no-longer-white paint. It looked like actual shit smeared on the walls. It would have taken someone three hours to slap one or two coats of paint on that wall before showing it to potential renters, but they couldn't be bothered. And they were asking $410 per week ($1775 per month).

So that's what we're up against. We've gone house-hunting every Saturday for three weeks now. We've applied for two properties and been rejected for both (we viewed on Saturday and waited until Monday to apply, so we were probably too late.) But we aren't in a hurry because we don't have to vacate our current place at any time. So we'll be picky, and keep collecting applications.