Our first blog from Australia and I am so excited to say that as of two hours ago we have a house. We don’t move in for 3 weeks, but we have sent the bond and it is official! We have been in Australia just less than 2 weeks and searching for a house has consumed these weeks. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions with tears, lots of anxiety, stress, and indecision. But it is over. We get to now move on to the next stage – enrolling the kids in a school, picking out furniture for the house and getting to know our new neighborhood.
We had done a ton of research before we landed in Melbourne about where we should live and had been monitoring the rental market for months. We thought it was a good idea to not know exactly which suburb we wanted to keep our options open. They call anything outside the CBD (central business district) suburbs here. The day after we landed we had the kids jammed in the car to start the search. In case you hadn’t heard Melbourne has been voted the most livable city in the world again and the rental market is red hot. In addition to paying a king’s ransom in rent, we would need to apply to multiple properties and hope we got accepted. The inspections are scheduled on Saturdays and throughout the week and you have to attend the 15 minute time period. Sometimes these occurred in the middle of the day which was oh so convenient for Paul trying to start his new job. The drill is that you show up at the specific time (don’t be late!) and you along with everyone else has a whole 15 minutes to look through the house. On the way out you are handed an application and encouraged to apply right away. Some houses are vacant, some tenanted, some clean and one house we had to step through piles of kid junk and even see the last bowel movement of one of the residents. Bringing our kids along to endless inspections is probably not ideal, but given we were now without our lovely support network back home, we had no other options. We gave the kids stern messages about being good as we didn’t want to lose a place because of our rambunctious kids. The kids were really fantastic. Sure they weren’t angels and drove us crazy sometimes in the car, but we fully understood how trying this was for them too.
We landed on Thursday and by Saturday afternoon we had seen 7 houses and we put in an application for a house. It was covered in wood paneling, but it was cute and right across from a funky alternative government primary school. On Monday we found out we were accepted and we were excited, but then we weren’t sure. We have been lucky enough to be house and dog sitting in a suburb right on the water and had gotten used to daily walks along the ocean. Suddenly I was doubting our decision. Should we live near the water? I didn’t love the neighborhood of the house and the shops were farther than I wanted. We were torn. We visited the house again, measured the rooms and the kids played in the lovely backyard. But still I wasn’t sure. Bring on the tears, the stress..we had to make a decision. We weren’t ready to commit and we backed out. But within a day I wanted that house back. The agent must have thought we were nuts and they had already moved on to the next applicant that had swiped it up anyway. I was devastated. It had felt like a home, the kids liked it and we could have moved in right away. I mourned the loss heavily and wondered if we had made a huge mistake.
There were a few dark days and then we looked at a house in a lovely neighborhood and the house was perfect and the neighborhood perfect – Kew. The kids were thrilled that there was a huge recreation centre just down the street. Suddenly I was happy again.
We put in our application, but kept looking and applied to 3 more houses by the end of our second weekend. One of them was a real contender – near the water in a cute suburb called Elwood. The house was really nice inside, smaller than the Kew house and not in as good of condition, but it was cute. But it was a semi and the house it was attached to was abandoned. I struggled with paying top dollar for a house attached to an overgrown, abandoned house. There were other signs that were hard to ignore – the last few tenants had only stayed exactly one year, the peeling walls really annoyed me and why did Google streetview have a gap in their coverage right in front of the house? Days went by while we waited to hear agonizing about which house we should choose – the beautiful house inland near the Rec centre or take a chance on the Elwood house near the beach. To be honest, the water beckoned and we were probably leaning that way. But after two days of not hearing from anyone, we decided to take whomever took us first. We got the call two hours ago from the Kew house and we are done. Like DONE! This has been one of the most stressful events I have gone through in the last few years. I know it may not sound like much – looking for a house – but I really wanted to make sure we made the right selection. I carried the burden of believing that our whole two year experience here in Melbourne hinged on finding the right house and suburb. I also know that our family can live anywhere – $20 hotel rooms, boats, it doesn’t matter as long as we are together. I knew we would make whichever house our home. But the indecision was killing me. For the record, we found out later we didn’t even get the Elwood (near the beach) house.
We are two hours in to this decision and I am refusing to let myself even consider if this was the right choice. As my Mom wisely says, “You make the decision and then you move on and live it.” Sure, I am sad we won’t be living near the beach, but I will not dwell on it. I will focus on our new beautiful home with that lovely Rec centre down the street. I will focus on getting to know our new neighborhood, preparing the kids for school and picking out furniture to fill the house. Now that we have a house, we can focus on truly beginning our 2 year stint down under.
I wrote this a couple of days ago and I would be lying if the last few days have been full steam ahead without any looking back. Walking by the water is like salt in a wound for me as I definitely would have liked to have lived by the water. BUT we had two weeks to make a housing decision and unfortunately we didn’t find a house we liked, in a neighborhood we liked by the water. So instead of focusing on the water (or lack thereof) my mantra for the week is to focus on all the great things I love about our new house and our new neighborhood. I think it is safe to say I have been an emotional wreck for the last week and I honestly can’t think of a time recently where I have felt so unhinged. I suppose it doesn’t help that I am home with the kids all the time in a home that is not ours living out of suitcases. Paul has gotten more than one random phone call from me during the day, crying and saying I have changed my mind. So after this whole experience, sure I would probably change how we went about our search. In the two weeks we have been here we have learned so much about the various suburbs and have way more knowledge of what is important to us. We have our house (in a few weeks) and I really am excited about moving on in the settling in process.