I was 26 years old and I was STOKED. My property porn addiction struck early in life, I’d been scouring suburbs – progressively further from the city’s centre as reality set in – for months. Finally, I found a place in Petersham I could afford.
Husband and I were still many years from marriage and he wasn’t ready to “commit” to a mortgage so I got my sister to pretend to be my co-buyer to secure a loan with my paltry $10,000 deposit.
I bought before auction and couldn’t understand the seller’s haste to close the deal sans bargaining … until I moved in and realised a bikie gang had set up residence over the fence.
And then I got it.
Fortunately, despite being unready to “commit” to a mortgage, Husband didn’t mind applying his talent for public speaking to a council meeting regarding the bikie gang’s application to turn their place into a new clubhouse. The application was denied, we didn’t have any pets the bikies could kill in retribution and they eventually gave up and moved on. But my did those Harley Davidsons make a din in their concrete backyard in the meantime.
Husband also didn’t mind applying his arms to the arduous task of painting the place. We naively allocated a week to the job and were still going three years later.
There’s something incredibly special about owning your home. I totally get why it’s the great Aussie dream. Whenever I arrived home after a holiday, it filled me with this enormous pride to unlock MY front door.
It didn’t matter that it was on a busy road opposite a petrol station with a chocolate warehouse a few doors down. It was MINE.
(Well, the chocolate warehouse wasn’t my favourite spot after weevils started crawling across the tablecloth from after dinner mints one night. Didn’t reflect particularly well on my hosting abilities.)
Every Christmas I’d throw a “Get Merry On Kerry” party with the contents of my ACP/Kerry Packer Christmas hamper. Kerry gave his employees two styrofoam boxes containing a turkey, 1kg of smoked salmon, wine and various other primo nibbles … plus a Christmas card – usually featuring a golden retriever in a Santa hat. Ah, the luscious finger foods that smoked salmon became.
I threw an Easter party once too – without the assistance of Kerry’s largesse – complete with rabbit pies. I feel a bit guilty about that now Mr Bunnykins has come into our lives, but they were delicious (a few people were a bit edgy about eating the Easter Bunny, but they got over it after a few champagnes).
We spent four happy years in my first home. My sister moved in for a while. We co-habitated peacefully, aside from one memorable argument with Husband where she bared her forearms and hissed: “What do you want from me, blood?” while making slashing motions across her wrists.
Husband’s sister spent six months with us too. I told her she wasn’t allowed to cook. I can’t quite believe I did that, but I was quite particular about my fridge contents from an early age and didn’t want my menu planning screwed around. Fortunately she was at uni and amenable to someone else serving all her meals.
About a year after moving in, we did a quick and dirty $35,000 renovation of the bathroom, kitchen and back deck. Getting gastroenteritis mid-way through the reno – while the bathroom was out of action – wasn’t too fab, especially the morning I didn’t make it to the gym bathroom in time. I may also have cried about the back deck being laid the wrong way up (no amount of persuasion by the builder that having the grooves in the wood facing upwards was a safety feature staunched my tears, so he agreed to pull them up if I’d please just stop sobbing.)
But it all worked out in the end. Especially the doubling-my-money-when-I-sold-it-at-auction part. That was particularly satisfying. Low base, I’ll admit, but still another moment of pride. Here’s how I styled the place for sale – it was back when lemon walls were HOT …
I’ve bought five other places since then. And I’ve loved them all in their own quirky ways. Well, the crumbling sandstone place I insisted on getting when I was nine months pregnant and gripped with nesting irrationality was a mistake, but romantic all the same.
Tell me about your first home …