In theory we are to finalize ‘settlement’ and receive the keys to the new house this Friday, which I am both excited and apprehensive about. I’ve moved house 7 times in as many years and am rather ready to stay in one place for a while. Moving is really one of the most horribly tedious, stressful activities in life, but in this instance I just keep reminding myself: “But this house will be OURS”.
I don’t actually have a lot of stuff to move, but even so I am kind of dreading it and wishing I had a personal assistant who could do it all for me. And of course, because I don’t have a lot of stuff, it’s not worth hiring movers, which means lots of borrowing vehicles and lugging crap myself– trying to avoid roping in friends as helpers at this point as the only thing worse than moving house is helping someone else move house. A small mercy is that the place I’m currently living could be charitably called “run down”, so I don’t have to be quite so anxious about leaving the odd scuff mark and such as the place was already amply blemished when I moved in 2 years ago, so I’m pretty confident I’ll be leaving it in a more habitable state than I found it.
I will miss the seaside shackiness of it though.
It’s official: contracts are done, deposit paid and now we enter a 7 week settlement period, so basically we should be moved in by the end of June. (although suddenly that seems an annoyingly long time to wait).
A couple of key features:
Ocean views! You can actually see the ocean from the living area in the house, which I was surprised by. Also my better half will get to see it every morning as she embarks on her annoying commute :)
A Pool! Though since it will be the middle of winter when we move in we probably won’t be getting a lot of use out of that for a while.
A usable area under the house for BBQs! I will host a goddamn BBQ this year if it kills me!
A spa bath! (with bonus weird blue marble effect bathroom)
It will also be the first time I live in a house with a dishwasher, which will be AWESOME. I’m so used to not having one that I actually referred to it as a “dishwashing machine” earlier today. In all honesty it’s probably the thing I’m most looking forward to right now.
I would show more pics but I’d just be reusing shots from the agent’s listing and Google Image Search is a little too clever these days– I don’t really want to share that many details publicly about exactly where we’re going to live and how much we paid. I’m not about to claim we got the best price, and prefer not to hear advice from people who would have “beaten them down”, because really there is almost nothing more annoying at times like these.
I see now why people describe buying a house as stressful, because it bloody well is. But now that we are actually locked in a sense of calm has settled in and it’s so damn nice to be past the point of second-guessing everything. We’re buying this house to live in, not to flip, and we really like it.
And of course now I want to write a floor plan app because the one I’ve been using (FloorPlanner) is just too prone to screw-ups (and it’s written in Flash… blech). I first tried it several years ago and it’s no better now than it was then. If you know of a good free or cheap alternative let me know, but after trying a few this seems about as good as it gets.
Also really fighting the urge to run out and buy a tonne of power tools, garden implements and furniture that I really don’t have the cash or storage space for right now.
A blessing and a curse.
It’s been a few years now since I worked in an office environment, and although there’s a lot I don’t miss, there are some things I do. Daily social interaction with workmates is a handy way to make sure you aren’t going a bit mad. When you get stuck on a problem and swear loudly enough someone will eventually pop their head in and give you a chance to explain it to them, at which point you might suddenly figure out what’s wrong, or at the very least garner some sympathy.
When you work from home, you get total control of your workspace, and that’s great. Except that you might start getting obsessive over unimportant details like where to put your desk, how many whiteboards is too many, how best to arrange your network hardware*, whether you work better with music and which music to choose, ambient light levels, optimal selection of pens, etc.
Also you get to set your own hours. Awesome. Although what this really means for me is that I work in fits and starts at weird hours, often in the wee small hours, because I am not good at delaying the gratification of being able to use the daylight hours for something other than staring at a computer screen.
Overall I still like it a lot more than not, but I just wish I could be a little more disciplined with my schedule.
* Answer: Pile it onto a high shelf and just try to ignore it.
For the past few months Emma and I have been looking for a house to buy, and so far we’ve seen two places we really liked. The first one was like this old country house forgotten in the middle of a regular Sydney suburb, but it was snapped up well before we could get our finances in order. The second we really thought was going to be ours; we seemed to be the only parties genuinely interested and we made a formal offer, but for some reason the owner ended up making other arrangements excluding us and the agent (we never had the chance to make a second offer). We’re still sore about that, as we had come to assume it would be ours.
So now we start the new year frustrated that we have to start looking again, and pessimistic about finding a place we like as much anytime soon. I had even been digging into NSW crime stats to work out the relative niceness of the suburb (Wiley Park) which, although it isn’t generally considered a ‘nice’ suburb, is actually within a region (Canterbury) that is markedly below average on a lot of key crime stats.
We continue scouring the region for other options, mainly because it’s one of the only decent areas we can really afford to look at. The other area we’re looking at is nearby Auburn, but I’m not liking the stats quite as much for that region. Where the Canterbury region factors fairly low on most of these stats, Auburn tends to be on the high side (although some numbers are trending strongly down over the last 5 years). The current region I live in is technically Wollongong (which fares very badly, although I live very much on the outskirts) and I grew up in the Tweed region.
All data below is extracted from tables provided by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Numbers represent incidents per 100,000 population.
Break & Enter
Harassment & Threats
Today there’s a new addition to the sign that stands on my front lawn almost blocking the driveway…
The place has been on the market for more than a year, so it was bound to happen eventually. For those who came in late, I am not the owner; merely a lowly tenant of 1 of the 3 flats into which this old weatherboard (asbestos) house has been divided. I’ve had the luxury of an enormous amount of privacy over the last year, having the place to myself most of the time, paying very low rent, with only one neighbour who spends only a few days a week here. At least part of this equation will be changing at some point in the near future.
On some level I had the notion that I would magically be able to come up with the rather large amount of money required to buy the property myself… so that fantasy is well and truly busted now.
btw although the place doesn’t look like much from the front, it’s the back that makes it a rather desirable bit of real estate…
Today was a no computer kind of day– I’ve only just started it up to create this post. I decided I needed to do something with my hands that didn’t involve typing for a change, and I’ve been getting the shits with my walls lately. Yes, my walls. They are a drab grey-blue, and I had stuck some plastic film up to use as a super cheap whiteboard, but unfortunately it was also super ugly too.
Classy eh? I previously had an actual whiteboard there but it was too small, and unfortunately the large ones cost about a million dollars. So today I decided to revisit an old habit from my youth, which is to paint shit black.
So much better! Even if I had a whiteboard this size, I’m just sick of the things. There’s no texture to a whiteboard, and nothing to match the tactility of drawing with chalk. And yes, chalk is dusty, but you can’t have everything. The surfaces are pristine at the moment because I want to give the paint at least a day to dry fully before using it, and speaking of paint I might have to wrap this post up and go for a walk because these fumes are making me woozy…
Not sure why I have such an affinity for the run-down type of place. Perhaps it’s because when a place is falling apart it’s relatively easy to make significant improvements on your own, with little more than a hammer and maybe a screwdriver. Door doesn’t close properly? It’s just a loose hinge! Drawer doesn’t close properly? It’s just an old nail poking out! Light fittings suck hugely? Cheap paper thingies from Ikea!
The other nice thing about a run-down place is that you don’t have to walk on freakin eggshells hoping not to accidentally bump some furniture into a door frame and leave a mark.
Of course, there is a point at which a crappy place becomes a little too crappy, and then someone with dollar signs where their corneas should be might start thinking about knocking the whole thing down to build some big fancy-pants joint with ocean views. The following was kind of inevitable, but the timing (a week after I moved in!) is pretty goddamn annoying.
Although I’m not quite done, I am mostly done… I am without a TV for now, but no biggie. And I still have to do a mega-shop for plates, utensils etc.
Here’s what my eastward view looks like, although I don’t actually get to see this from my window– my unit faces west; this pic was taken from the (shared) backyard.
I’m very much looking forward to sitting out there from time to time, drinking iced tea, listening to the surf, and playing Scrabble on my iPad :)
My niece Rocket can watch hours of homemade Littlest Pet Shop videos on Youtube – do a search and be amazed. This is my new temporary room/office until I move back down south in a couple of weeks. It’s been fantastic spending time with family and generally hanging about in Sydney but I admit I am pining for my own home again and a more peaceful environment. And I’m very happy with the deal I’m getting on the new flat – it’s a part-house in an excellent spot right on the cliffs and will cost less than half my previous rent. Although it’s a bit run down it has plenty of “character” which I always prefer to tidy but bland shoeboxes.
Another slight adjustment comes with something vaguely approaching a commitment to stay in Australia for at least the next year or two. Since coming back from NZ in early 2010 I have been in this maybe/maybe-not mindset about where I want to live, but recently I’ve decided it would be bloody nice to settle in to a place for a change. And so symbolically I went out and got myself a new iPhone4 on a 24 month contract :) Of course none of this precludes me from totally changing my mind and nicking off again; it just means that I won’t do it unless I have a really good reason to.
In other slightly beach-related news, I’m visiting Bali in a month or so, to attend a friend’s wedding. The trip is one of those things I would probably never do myself because I am such a self-hating-western-tourist, but it’s great to have an excuse to go and lounge around drinking coconut rum on floating chairs in giant flower shaped swimming pools (or whatever it is that pasty white people tend to do in Bali).
Well I’ve basically moved in now, and it was all relatively painless since the place is almost entirely furnished. So much easier than the last time I moved into a new house, when I spent the first few days in discomfort while I acquired furniture and appliances (my first night there I slept on an air mattress which deflated during the night). This time around it’s a piece of cake!
My new study!
My new kitchen!
My new bedroom!
The only furniture I’ve felt the need to introduce are a desk and a coffee table (from IKEA of course). The desk was cheap but took forever to put together thanks to the number of crappy phillips-head screws needed (ow my hand), so coffee table can wait til tomorrow.
Internet & phone is yet to be arranged, so currently I’m tethering my iMac to my iPhone (via Bluetooth)… it would be nice if I could do the same with the iPad grrrrrr….
After weeks and weeks of looking at places to rent (and missing out on many that I liked– this is not a good time to be renting around Sydney) I have finally secured a little place of my own, in which I will be achieving great things over the next 6 months.
This is the second bedroom, which I think will make a nice study/office.
Well out of the city, less than 200m from the beach (close enough to hear the ocean), the idea is that here I will be able to live well and concentrate on being productive without too many distractions, and hopefully the fact that I will be paying a tonne of rent willÂ provide an extra incentive to get my ass into gear.
I’ve actually been living here for about a month now, and it is just one of the reasons I have been so abysmal at updating lately (ie moving tends to disrupt everything). It’s a very nice free-standing wooden house, with polished floors and such. Very homey, gets quite a lot of light and the deck looks onto a pokey private yard full of overgrown trees. For the first time in years I have a separate study, so I have no really good excuse to not be very productive anymore. When I first moved in it was unfurnished, and my plan was to just get the bare essentials, but that plan pretty much flew out the window within the first week… so now I own a new bed, washing machine, dryer, HD TV, PS3, fridge, lounge suite etc– more “stuff” than I’ve ever owned before. Almost everything was bought via TradeMe, the extremely popular NZ version of eBay (which until now I haven’t made much use of) so although I spent a fair bit most of it was only a fraction of what it would have cost to buy new.
I did end up getting Little Big Planet, and although it is quite lovely I fear I just don’t have the attention to dedicate to console games. More interesting to me is trying to work out a decent media center setup… currently I am playing stuff from my iMac on the PS3 with the help of Nullsoft’s Medialink server, although it is a little light on features and doesn’t do transcoding (PS3 is surprisingly picky about codec support).
After the US elections I think I ran out of steam a little (like a lot of people)… it was such a relief but now the race is finally over I suddenly seem to have less to read about/post about. Probably a good thing to get away from politics for a while anyway. Sadly we just voted in a conservative government in NZ so that was a bit of a let-down after the world-wide euphoria of Obama’s win. At least our conservatives aren’t as fucked up as those in the US… I don’t think any of them are even rapture-ready ;)
So now the end of the year is fast approaching, as are some nasty deadlines at work, and I am really really looking forward to a break. My energy levels are just so damn low at the moment, I never feel like I’ve had enough sleep.