Okay, so you’ve landed in a country where people eat kangaroos and insist on calling hockey “ice hockey” for clarification (like there’s any other kind), and after living for one month in a hostel you decide it’s time to find a flat.
Crap. Where do you start?
If you’re anything like Kelsey and I, you’ll start with the wonderful world of the web.
After unsuccessfully viewing a couple places, we were sitting on the floor in our hostel room one day when Kelsey’s phone rang. It was a guy named Craig saying he was going to pick us up and take us to view a couple places.
“How did he get your number?” I asked.
“I have no idea, he said he’ll be in a white car,” replied Kels.
“Did he sound creepy?”
“Not really, he didn’t have an Australian accent though.”
“Okay let’s go.”
And that was the end of Kelsey and Shaylyn.
Just kidding. Thankfully, Craig was an actual real estate agent and had found Kelsey’s number on a property rental site. Turns out he was from Canada as well, and like the friendly people that we are, we immediately trusted him.
Craig showed us three places that day, and Kels and I settled on a bachelor pad (sharing a bed was the only way we could afford our own flat) in a suburb called Redfern. Craig assured us Redfern was a great area. He said it was a lively neighbourhood with a good local pub scene.
He assured us it was a great area.
The first weekend we moved to Redfern a fight started in front of our window, and two guys got arrested.
Craig also assured us the flat was in great condition.
One month after living there our fridge broke, and all our food went bad. But that was the fridge.
The flat is in great condition, assured Craig.
Three weeks after the fridge broke we discovered mould in the flat.
Rule #1: Don’t trust real estate agents named Craig, even if they’re Canadian
After the mould discovery, Craig upgraded us to a one bedroom flat across the hall from our mouldy bachelor pad. We moved in, and Kels and I were a little unsure what to do with all of our extra space. We went from a bachelor pad where the bed was within arms reach of every wall to a one bedroom flat with actual separate rooms!
So naturally, when our friend Sarah said she was moving back to Sydney we invited her to live with us. If there’s room for two people in a bachelor pad, there’s for sure room for three people in a one bedroom apartment!
We got Sarah a single mattress and plopped it down in the corner of the living room. We got some beautiful artwork (in the form of an Usher poster) and taped it to the wall above her mattress. We bought candles. We loved our new unit.
We loved our new unit so much that we often invited friends over to hang out. One time, the cops got in on the invitation and came to check the place out. They loved our unit too!
We loved our new unit so much that all three of us got matching key tattoos to represent Unit 8.
Rule #2: Just because a unit doesn’t have mould, doesn’t mean you should get it tattooed on your body
After our love affair with Unit 8, Kelsey and I decided there was no other worthy flat in Sydney, so we moved to Melbourne. Again, we spent a month in a hostel before deciding to settle elsewhere.
We were prepared this time though. We weren’t going to use a real estate agent, and we weren’t going to pay too much. We were using a website and found this super cheap deal through a guy who rented part of his home out to travellers. It was so cheap we couldn’t not look at it.
We went to go check out the place, and Pete*, the landlord, seemed okay. He was a bit old, we guessed about 60-70, but he was super nice and had been renting out to travellers for years now. Plus, it was unbelievably cheap. We decided to move in with Pete.
*name has been changed because I’m nice
It started off well. Pete took us around Melbourne and showed us all the important landmarks. He even helped us apply for jobs. He was really nice.
He was so nice that we told ourselves it wasn’t weird he was a single 60-year-old guy who only rented his place out to girls (a fact we discovered after we moved in). We told ourselves it wasn’t weird that he insisted on doing our laundry because his last girl broke the washer. We told ourselves it wasn’t weird that we weren’t allowed to pet his dog. We told ourselves it wasn’t weird when Pete got mad at us for not telling him about our day. We told ourselves it was okay that Pete yelled at Kelsey for going to work instead of cleaning the kitchen.
Rule #3: If your landlord insists on washing your clothes, tell yourself to get the heck out
While we were still living under contract with Pete (who made us stay for two more weeks after we decided to move out), Kelsey and I began looking for a new place.
At this point, we were pretty desperate and couldn’t fathom living in a hostel while trying to go to work everyday, so we went back to the wonderful world of the web and began looking for a new place.
We saw an ad for someone looking for two roommates. It was similar to Pete’s set-up, but this time the guy was in his mid-twenties. We didn’t want to have a repeat of the Pete situation, so we decided to meet this guy for drinks one night. He was super cool. And I know, you’re probably thinking ‘you have to be kidding me, why would they even try that again?’ Well, that brings us to the last rule:
Rule #4: It doesn’t matter if it’s the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh time, your charm is out there
Kels and I finally lucked out in the last place that we actually lived in Australia. Our new roommate, D-Man (his very real nickname from us), was awesome for giving us advice on where to go and what to do in Melbourne. The three of us often had movie nights where we’d curl up in someone’s room and watch Netflix. We’d have dinner together and hung out all time. It was such a treat after all the other places we lived that it restored my faith in humanity, and now I can blog and laugh about all the other horribly puzzling decisions we made prior to living with D-Man.
After all, life is just one big learning experience, right?