Poor Stevie

June 2015 archive

a little road barely on the map

Joe Hockey, the husband of a very successful businesswoman, used his position as Australia’s treasurer to say some things about housing affordability. It wouldn’t be a problem if people just went out and got well-paid jobs, he said. Cool story, Joe.

A lot of people responded to Hockey with varying views, including that people my age should just shift their attitudes and be totally fine with making sacrifices and renting for life.

Well, up your ziggy with a wawa brush. This argument inspired me to write a list of reasons I want to have a home of our own.

A list of reasons I want to have a home of our own:

1. Property managers suck. I can’t stand that a very important part of my life is controlled by barely literate, mouth-breathing rich kids. After moving out of our last place, our real estate agent called us to say we couldn’t have the bond back unless we cleaned the shower again.

When I went into the bathroom – ashamed, and expecting to see mould quivering on the tiles – I found streaks on the glass door. Streaks of cleaning product. Streaks which were evidence the shower had just been cleaned. When she finally agreed to give us the bond back, she filled out the forms incorrectly, meaning we waited about six weeks to get $2000 back. I work part-time, we have a child, we live in Sydney – $2000 is nothing to be sneezed at.

The time before that, we spent about a week arguing with the property manager about whether we should have to pay someone to steam clean the carpet when we moved out, as the lease said. We won that round by sending her the section of the Residential Tenancies Act that says it is illegal to include that on a lease. A couple of houses before that, we spent the entire time battling with the property manager, who insisted we were drastically behind on rent, even though our bank statements showed otherwise.

2. Rental properties suck. We moved into our last place knowing that it was cheap because it was a bit of a dump. I would never do that again. We paid $500 a week to live in a house with holes in the walls, threadbare synthetic carpet, mould on the roof, dodgy plumbing, and a severe slug and cockroach problem (see: holes in the walls). I would never buy a house like that, but if I did, at least I could knock it down and rebuild it, or at very least patch up the holes and commit insect genocide. I want to decide how I live – if I want my house to be an ‘under the sea’ theme, I’ll paint some glittery dolphins on the wall. If J-man wants to re-jig the plumbing system for a home brewery, then he’s free to get a monkey wrench and bang on some pipes. If I want to keep 30 great danes in the backyard, then woof woof woof wooooooof.

3. Moving sucks. We have lived in Sydney for less than a decade and we have lived in five places. We know all too well that moving is always stressful, messy, and soul-destroying. I have lived long enough under the threat that our landlord might sell, or move back in, or move a relative in, for way too long now. The next place we move into will be our own.

4. We have a child. CC is not even two and she is onto her third place in Sydney. She doesn’t know the difference, but I do. I don’t want to drag her around from granny flat, to house, to townhouse for much longer. When she starts school, I want to live nearby so she has stability and friendships with kids in the neighbourhood. I want to be a part of a community. I want to know other parents, and hang out and make friends. I want to have their kids play in our backyard, mostly so I have people to get me another XXXX Gold from the fridge.

5. We are willing to make sacrifices, jerks! Lots of the responses to Joe Hockey’s comments said that every generation has had to make sacrifices when it comes to owning a house. A woman told the ABC that in the 1940s, she had to sign a contract saying she wouldn’t have children if she moved into a particular house. Another man said he and his family bought a shit house in the ‘burbs, and commuted for a few years, before they renovated and sold up. People of my generation are making sacrifices too, like paying unfair rents to live in Sydney, moving interstate, and living with their parents for longer than they naturally should. And we are too – we are prepared to commute, to move cities, to live somewhere less desirable for a while – all at a cost to our careers, our childcare, and our connection to extended family. Just give us the flippin’ keys.