House-Hunting Adventures in Australia
A place to rest my head
After an easy flight, I’m excited to be back in Sydney! And since I’m staying with my little sister who’s doing the same program I did back in college, I’m right back in my old stomping grounds. So much is the same: I recognize the way the city smells, and my first stop was Ottimo Café for the best flat white (coffee and steamed milk) and banana bread in town.
Luckily, three days after my arrival, my sister and her roommate left for spring break on the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania, respectively, so I had the place to myself for a week. But I still wanted to find my new home as quickly as possible and get settled.
Here’s what I found: Finding a place to live in a new city is a lot like dating — Internet blind dating, to be specific. Here’s a breakdown of my experience this week.
House #1: Good on paper, but too distant
I was met at the bus stop and escorted to the house. Small talk came easily — New York vs. Sydney, how I ended up here, etc. The house — and the roommates, for that matter — was good-looking, clean, friendly. Two of the three roommates were an engaged couple, with the same wedding date as my brother; I took this as a good omen. Everything was great except one thing: it was in the quiet North Sydney suburbs. With my current focus being building an entire social life, and perhaps with Revolutionary Road still too fresh in my memory, I had to say good night and keep looking for something more my speed.
After my trip to the ‘burbs, and getting a sense of what’s on offer in downtown Sydney, I decided I wanted to live in Bondi Beach. A fun beach town not far from downtown Sydney with activities, nightlife and plenty of young people, I narrowed my search to Bondi.
House #2: Nice to meet you; please lose my number
I found a pretty-good-sounding room in an apartment in Bondi and made the call.
Me: Hi, Nick?
Me: Hi, I’m calling about the available room.
Me: Uh, so…can you tell me about it…?
After a few painful minutes, we set a time to meet. I knew already the face-to-face wouldn’t go much better, but, like dating, house hunting tends to be a numbers game — have to get out there and do the work to find something good.
Well, it was even worse than expected. This was my speed date of the week. Nick was tall and lanky and looked like he hadn’t showered since his last surf. The apartment was dark and cluttered. I took a quick walkthrough, got outta Dodge and gave myself a pep talk to keep from getting discouraged.
House #3: The one that got away
This place came heavily advertised by the exiting roommate. “These guys are the best roommates EVER, and I would never leave if I didn’t have to go home to the UK!!” I was sold and called for a date — er, viewing. Actually, it was like a date; the two cute Aussie roommates were sitting down to dinner when I arrived. We made small talk and discussed details about the apartment. We talked sports; I asked about the arcade game sitting in their living room (it was their childhood favorite so they got in on eBay for a couple hundred bucks). They seemed fun, and the apartment was great.
While my half hour there was pleasant, I could tell I didn’t totally click with one of the guys. Plus, they let me know they still had some people to meet and would be in touch in a couple days. I was hopeful, but not totally convinced there’d be a second (move-in) date.
Unfortunately, I was right. But, they were nice enough to text me to let me know. And if I run into them out and about sometime, after some initial awkwardness I think we could have a pleasant chat — and maybe even end up on a date?
House #4: Settling … but still on the market
I was now getting stressed. I still had a few days before my sister’s return, but I wanted there to be no trace of me when she arrived. On what seemed like my hundredth trip out to Bondi, I was happy my destination was in a great spot; in the middle of the “strip” along the beach but set back on a quieter road and just down the street from a few people I know (and at this point, “a few” is a large percentage of my social circle!).
It was a pretty quick meeting with Shelly, one of the roommates — a few rooms, good-sized living room and kitchen, a little backyard. I asked a few questions and said I’d let her know. I walked outside and sat down on a stone wall across the street to think. This was a great spot; near my friends; I could move in anytime within the week; and there was no lease or minimum time commitment, so I could leave anytime something better came up. I called Shelly from across the street and let her know I was definitely interested.
It’s less than ideal. I don’t see it lasting very long but, like a nice guy who is fun to hang out with even if he’s lacking a spark, it gets the job done for now. It gets me into my desired neighborhood — making it easier for me to keep an eye out for something better that does excite me. And don’t you always find that guys seem more attracted to you when you’re taken? I’m hoping the same applies for roommate seekers.
And now that I’m somewhat settled, I have no excuse not to move on to my next hunt: for a job. Wish me luck!
Check out more of Megan’s Betty Blogger posts: I’m Moving to Australia.