I was born with the property bug. The moment I arrived in Sydney, I was desperate to own a piece of it. I would plead – in vain – with friends to go halves with me in apartments.
I started on the property ladder when I was 26 and invariably got itchy feet every five years after that.
Today, I get the deeds to my seventh property, the first one with only my name on the title.
Final exchange is at 2pm. Keep your fingers crossed – and knock on wood – that I haven’t forgotten any fiddly details.
It’s a bittersweet day.
I’m excited to have something that’s all my own. I can decorate it how I please, renovate it how I choose. No one will sigh heavily when I gaze at the fancy barbecues at Bunnings and say: “Alana, happiness is not be be found in a new barbecue.”
But it’s also a stark reminder that my romance of 23 years with Husband is dead, buried, over. Writing those words still startles me, even 10 months later.
I’m on my own in the big, bad world. Everything that goes right or wrong will be my responsibility.
It’s a modest little place, on a busy road. I have a floor-sanding bloke and a builder meeting me there for the final inspection at 10.45am, to give me quotes on a little spit and polish before the girls and I move in.
It hasn’t been painted since sponge effects were tres cool … it REALLY needs a few coats of Dulux Chalk White USA …
My dear friend Wendy is coming along to hold my hand …
I hope I like the house when I see it again. I hope it feels like home. I’m looking forward to settling down, getting my new life off to a proper start and putting up my first Christmas tree on my own (that was always Husband’s job).
For those who’ve missed my previous musings on my property predilection – here are all the homes I’ve loved (and sold) before:
My first house was in Wardell Road, Petersham …
It was on a busy road, opposite a petrol station, which made it nice and cheap (there was also the small matter of a bikie gang having established a clubhouse over the back fence, but I didn’t discover THAT until after I’d exchanged contracts …).
I’d saved up $10,000 as a deposit on the place, which was on the market for the princely sum of $170,000.
Husband and I had been dating for around three years when I bought my Petersham pad. He “wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment” so I pretended for the bank’s nervy sake that my sister was my co-mortgagee.
Then came an apartment in Stanley Street, East Sydney …
A few years down the track, I was itching to get my hands on a investment property, so I picked up a one-bedder in East Sydney. It was a snappily renovated number, a bit on the tiny side, in a company title building. As that tends to put namby-pamby people off I scored it for the bargain price of around $190,000, after holding the bank manager’s hand through the process while he angsted, ummmed and ahhhed. Eventually, I gave him a figurative slap and said: “Yes, yes, I know, I know! But what do I have to DO to make an offer on the place today?”
He looked rather startled and told me. Deal done.
I loved the place. It was literally a hop and a skip across Hyde Park to work. Bliss.
And Forest Knoll Avenue, Bondi …
While living in East Sydney, I scored a gig as editor of Singapore CLEO. It seemed sensible to nab another piece of Sydney real estate before we left.
There was this company title place I quite fancied at Bondi. Husband had given it the thumbs down, so we hadn’t gone to the auction. My equally property-fixated friend Annette called me the next morning to say it had passed in. Husband was being retrenched that afternoon – we strongly suspected – so time was of the essence. We made an offer, it was accepted, then we hit up our bank manager and strongly suggested, with raised eyebrows and nudges, that it would be best to call Husband’s pay office to confirm his wage before midday.
Voila. Bondi pad scored.
Then came Short Street, Merewether …
While living in Singapore, we bought an investment property over the internet in Merewether, Newcastle. We christened it the “Asbestos Palace” (before and after pics above) when we discovered after settlement that it was built almost entirely from asbestos. My mother cried when she first saw it. They weren’t happy tears. A builder friend of mum’s gave it a makeover, co-ordinated by me via email, and ta-da!
Fortunately Merewether turned out to be a happy tears purchase in the end – those four one-bedroom apartments rented their socks off.
And Mount Street, Hunters Hill …
When we came back to Sydney we moved into our Bondi dream apartment. LOVED it. Husband would pop down to Bondi Icebergs a few days a week for a swim, I’d go for morning walks on the boardwalk and to Tamarama Beach. Bliss.
I knocked out a wall, installed shutters, built-in wardobes and an IKEA kitchen, painted a few feature walls, and rubbed my hands together with fiscal glee when the place switched from company to strata title …
Then I got pregnant and realised that living somewhere with 50 steps to the front door wasn’t going to cut it with a pram.
At the 8-months-pregnant mark, and in furious nesting mode, I took us to see an apartment in a crumbling sandstone mansion in Hunters Hill.
I quelled my deep doubts about the place and we spent an insane amount of money buying the hopelessly romantic but not particularly practical pad.
Then came the final marital home …
A few years later, I admitted I’d made a terrible mistake with Mount Street – crumbling mansion living wasn’t my thing.
So we searched and we searched and we searched for another place. And finally found the final marital home. It was out of our price range and very suburban in style (the kind of place your parents would live in). It didn’t have any of the things I wanted: grassy backyard, garage, laundry. But it was huge and we were running out of options so we bought it.
The interior looked pretty spesh once it was painted white rather than forest green. I also knocked out a few walls, put up some others, moved and installed a lovely new kitchen.
Husband wanted me to take my time moving out, but I was keen to sell. Bad memories and far too big for me to maintain on my own.
Which brings me to the new place, which looks bizarrely similar to the last place from the street. Except, ironically, it has all the things I wanted before but didn’t get: grassy backyard, garage and laundry.
Home sweet home …
Song of the day: Simon & Garfunkel “Homeward Bound”