I mowed the lawns today and it confirmed what Rae and I were talking about the other day – we may have a roof over head, but we don’t feel like we have a home. In our previous place a freshly mown lawn would have us dragging out the garden chairs and enjoying lunch or a drink but here it was just another chore that had to be done this weekend.
This place, after six months, is still not feeling like home. The day we moved in to the old place it was home. The old place also holds a lot of our history – we were engaged in that house, married in that house and bought Bert home to that place. That builds up a lot of feeling for a home in a pretty short time.
So, what’s different about this place? There’s a couple of things. I guess the first is that we moved here under duress. The landlords at the old place were raising the rent to absurd levels and we had had strong indications they were thinking of selling. The agent wasn’t the best – but that was more the person responsible for our property than the agency. We had to move to somewhere that was better value for money and where we could actually get work done when needed. This place was a tick on both but it was a move we didn’t really want to make.
This year was also an odd one – summer ended one day and winter started the next, coincidentally on the weekend we moved. For almost six months we lived with the heater on and doors shut – and we hate that. Our families think we’re mad how we have our windows and doors open for fresh air on days they think are freezing, but this year it’s been too cold even for us. Feeling ‘stuck’ inside your own place is not a pleasant experience.
Then there’s the actual house. It was a ‘near enough is good enough’ option for us – what we didn’t realise was that we were moving in to a ‘near enough is good enough’ house. Rae has had experience of someone who was full of grand plans but left jobs half done or completed in the most half-arsed of manners and she says this place is the same.
The landlord has expanded and renovated an old 1950s weatherboard by building out. He’s put in a new kitchen, new laundry and new living area which all sounds good but it’s the manner in which he’s gone about it that makes the place seem temporary. I’ve lost count of the number of nails that jut out of walls, and the floor. Some are to anchor blinds, some must have once been for a purpose and some just seem to be there for no reason.
Work is only half done – a pelmet is missing in the living room, a shelf seems in danger of falling off, a door looks like it would come away if you were to close it, paint spots line the floor, no doors on the wardrobes (until Rae found some on Freecycle and put them on), cupboards don’t shut in the kitchen, a pipe sticks out of the bathroom wall for a toilet that was never installed and nothing seems solid. It’s livable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s such hotch potch it doesn’t endear itself to you with any ease.
Of course it’s not all doom and gloom. We’re living in an area we love and we only had to move from one end of the street to the other so nothing really changed that much. Plus we got extra value for significantly less each month – a dishwasher, better shed and air conditioning for the summer – all of which we appreciate and may make us happier on those 40 degree days when we can sit in our lounge and not be melting in to puddles.
We’re working on getting our own place. We’ve hit one major milestone in our savings this week although Albert’s child care is, like many other families, effectively wiping out our discretionary spending/savings. We budget down to the last dollar to make sure we can keep moving forward, but with the market continually surging it feels like we’re treading water, or maybe going under for the first time every now and then. Unfortunately as Rae had her name on a house for all of three months many many years ago we don’t qualify for the first home owners grant so we’re a few thousand dollars behind the eight ball. We’ve committed ourselves to staying here for a few years to get to our target before we make the move. We may have to build a long way out to get a start, by then anything around here will be so far out of our reach it’s scary to think about.
So for now I’ll mow the lawn every few weeks and hope that those days have brought us a little closer to both a new roof over our heads and new home for our family.