…she had no other option, so what was she to do?
I feel like I am about to become that woman (with a little less of the ‘old’) and that’s not such an inspiring possibility. Yes, it’s flathunting time in Sydney, Australia, and believe me when I say, this game is NOT fun. Remember Nineties British TV show Challenge Anneka? Well, it’s like that – only with less of the success, and certainly no chance of sweet-talking some kind estate agent into any kind of discount or freebie. In fact, it’s more like permanently living through the moments where Anneka Rice used to visibly crumble in her Barbie-like jumpsuits and say, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to complete this challenge in the time we’ve got…’ and then start frantically making more calls on her giant, not-so-mobile phone.
For those who don’t know – and let’s be honest, most of you probably don’t care – the Sydney property market is brutal. In order to get even so far as viewing a place, you not only have to be seriously on the ball and have the numerous estate agents on speed-dial, but you have to have limitless time. Your diary must be absolutely free of any existing daytime commitments because, otherwise, you may as well just resign yourself to the fact that you are going to be living in a hostel for the rest of your days… or failing that, when it gets too expensive and you’re all out of money, in a cardboard box under Sydney Harbour Bridge. Location, location, location. Shame about the lack of amenities, though.
Having said that, judging by some of the places we’ve managed to get a foot in the door of, the flat-pack home favoured by hobos could be a preferable – and far better value – option! I think the best one, so far, has to be when we turned up to a viewing, to find the address was a furniture shop. We drove round to the back of the building to see if there was an alternative entrance, but there wasn’t. So after calling the landlady, we discovered that to get to the flat we had to go through the store in a Narnia-esque fashion. Only what we found on the other side wasn’t quite so magical. We were led into, wait for it, two further furniture showrooms – one with modular sofas hanging from display racks on the walls – where the only thing that marked them out as ‘bedrooms’ were the double beds shunted into the corners. Our Aussie friend/ chauffeur for the day, Jon, raised his eyebrows, turned, and asked the woman if it was actually allowed to be rented out as a residential property. She shifted uncomfortably and mumbled something indistinguishable about drawing up a lease to reflect its usage… I don’t know.
If, at that moment, Ashton Kutcher had jumped out from behind a door or pulled off the fat suit he’d been wearing to pose as the Asian businessman lingering on the threshold, supposedly also interested in the property, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long enough to check out the kitchen (doubtless a camp stove or, if we were lucky, a microwave perched on an MDF shelf) or the bathroom (possibly a water butt on the roof?), but made a very swift exit suppressing slightly bemused laughter.
Looking at it now though, from the perspective of two girls who are a bit tired of eight-bed-dorm living, perhaps it was an error. I mean, unlike so many other places we’ve seen advertised, at least it was furnished…
And so the hunt continues. Maybe we could start a slum/favela in the middle of Sydney. I have always wanted to build my own home…