So, we moved out of our apartment. It only took me 2 1/2 yrs of talking about it. Out aircon had been broken since the end of Sep and finally someone told me the truth – it was not going to be fixed before Christmas. The pool was inaccessible too, due to work on the fence. We rather resented paying rent for features we were not even using. We had considered taking the landlord to tribunal, but worked out that would count against us when applying for another rental. We went to five property inspections the next day (Sat 16 Dec) and saw a house we wanted to move into. We put in an application and thankfully it was accepted. However, that only gave us 9 days to do everything if we were to be out before Christmas.
Of course, moving is stressful. Everyone knows that, right? Somehow we still managed to underestimate the time it would all take. The removalists took the large items on 18 Dec and five days later we were still packing up and removing items from one room at a time while the cleaners followed behind. The kids slept remarkably well, camping out on the floor of our main bedroom. My man and I were too busy to sleep. In the last 72 hours we had about four hours sleep in total. The night we finally got everything into storage, we all slept in the car by the side of the road.
The main thing we underestimated was how much we needed to pack. We have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s like the contents of a normal 4 bed house plus a classroom, an art studio and a toy shop on top! We booked a double garage space for storage and the staff member thought we wouldn’t even fill half of it. In the end we had to get another room because we had used up all the space. I am determined to make decluttering a priority over the next six months.
But we did it! We were in Jindabyne (in the Snowy Mountains) for Christmas Eve. We took the children to the local supermarket at 6:30 pm and let them choose what they wanted for Christmas lunch. We cleared the place of their discounted baked goods and found the very last roll of sticky tape. We had no Christmas tree or stockings, but everyone had a good Christmas Day.
We spent nearly 3 years in that apartment overlooking Manly Harbour and everyone who visited remarked on the wonderful view. I will miss the view and the pool, the large balcony and brightly lit open-plan living area. It was incredibly convenient for the Wharf and very safe for the boys to walk or cycle into town. I doubt we will find a place in such a great location. However I am relieved to be away from the high rent, the estate agent, the strata management company and the neighbours.
As the only tenants in the whole block we seemed to be the scapegoats whenever anything went wrong – whether or not it was really anything to do with us. One of the owners in particular always managed to get my back up. I am not sure why I prompted this response in her, but every conversation she ever had with me contained some criticism. Even on the day we moved out she asked if I thought the garbage collectors would take all the bags I was putting out. I responded, “Well, it is garbage, and it is collection day, so I hope so!” I then worried irrationally for the next two hours about whether our garbage might be left on the street and whether somehow the estate agent would use this as a reason not to return our bond. Needless to say, all our bags were collected. The inspection is not until 2 Jan so we will have to see if our bond gets returned or not.
We are moving to a house a bit further away from Manly Wharf, but it has five bedrooms and its own yard and costs approximately half the amount we were paying for our last place. We are staying there for 6 months only and in that time we can save up some more money for a deposit and look for a place to buy.
If I had any advice for other expats I would say not to be distracted by beautiful views like we were, and to try as much as possible to avoid apartments due to hassles with management. And if you have any money then try to buy as soon as you can. Property prices over here might be artificially high but the rents are stupid, especially somewhere desirable like Manly. At least when you buy, you are paying towards an asset and not into someone else’s pocket. And if you need something fixed you can arrange it yourself!