Thursday, February 5, 2009

House Hunting in Sydney

I've only been here a week but it seems a lot longer than that. Every day has been an adventure of some sort, mostly, but not always, of the good variety. My numero uno priority was to find a place to live, which despite all indications to the contrary, I have actually managed to do! Let me explain. I don't have much to compare to by way of experience finding shared accommodation but from what I have heard, and experienced in the last week, Sydney is one of THE hardest places to find decent shared housing. The first place I "rang up" (phoned) explained that they'd had over 20 people express interest in the place but invited me for an "interview" anyway. I really, really liked the room: large, big window, wall to wall built-in closet, own bathroom. I liked the other people in the house too aka we got "on" (along) well, so that was my number 1 choice. However, as there was so much competition I wasn't certain of my chances so off I went to explore some more options. Next was a rickety, run-down old two-story with paint peeling off the concrete walls and only one indoor bathroom to share between six people. There was another hole, I mean "bathroom" accessible by going through the kitchen, out the back door and around to the side of the house. No thank you! Can you imagine having to dart through the backyard and kitchen in a towel, especially in winter? Jeez Loueez. The kitchen was also a mess which wouldn't ordinarily bother me so much but kitchen mess in Sydney= critters of the MASSIVE COCKROACH variety. Seriously people, they are everywhere. I've killed two all by myself so far. My family will be delighted to know that I am now a kitchen-cleaning freak, obsessed with wiping counters! 
As the market here is so competitive I was actually psyching myself up to live in that dump when I visited my next house- a gorgeous flat right next to the university and central station. It had everything including cable tv, furniture, and even a pilates machine but my "roomie" would have been a 45 yr old Persian man. Although he seemed nice, I just wasn't sure how comfortable the situation would have been for me. Next I looked at this cute little hole-in-the-wall house in a quiet neighbourhood about 5km from the uni. It was actually quite large inside and had a large rambling backyard, quite unusual for Sydney. The occupants were lovely too. Two working professional guys in their 20's and two cute kitties! Not only was I delighted with the wine and cheese platter they offered me during the interview, but also with how polite and pleasant the guys were. The house was cozy and comfortable and I added it to my list of top choices.
Lastly, after a rather harrowing late-night bus ride to close to the outskirts of the city I visited a very nice flat on a main road atop a store. It was big, bright and comfortable and I enjoyed the company of the Aussie gal and Kiwi guy that lived there. Alas, the room wasn't available until the end of February and it was so far away from uni I'd spend over two hours a day commuting. Not the best situation. 
Luckily, after a second interview at the first house,  I got offers from my top two choices. It was a really tough decision because I enjoyed the company of both sets of housemates and as the prices for both places were the same, it came down to location. The first house is within walking distance to the uni and so I chose that one. I am delighted to be moving next weekend into a clean, modern, comfortable house with my 3 new housemates! One is a lovely girl from New Zealand and the other two are a German couple on a working holiday in Australia. What luck to find such a good house on my first try! I am glad to have seen so many places though to really appreciate what I ended up with. Now all I need to do is track down a bed. Will post some pictures soon!

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