For those of you who have never experienced being a penniless backpacker 10,000 miles from home sharing a two bed flat with five people, allow me to paint you a picture.
Two people sleep in one bedroom and four in the other (possible due to there being two sets of bunk beds). There’s me, Charlie – the handsome English guy, Cristian, the somnolent Argentinean who I work with, and four Vietnamese guys. Because they literally never introduced themselves to Cristian and me, we never learnt their names. So we call them Vietnamese #1, #2, #3 and #4. They’re all super taciturn, diehard gamers, partial to cooking awful smelling food that is reminiscent of decaying flesh and burning hair, and seem to lead no life outside of the apartment. #1 has a girlfriend he buys lavish and unusual gifts for (like a $400 heater and a 6000 piece jigsaw), #2 only talks to me for grooming advice, #3 never has a shirt on and #4 doesn’t seem to sleep at all. They’re a great bunch! I hope I never see them again.
The kitchen is predictably too small for 6 people to store and/or cook their food in, and is unfortunately infested with cockroaches. When I return from a night shift at the bar and go to get a glass of water, I flick the light on and reveal how the whole draining board is crawling with them, all over our “clean” plates and cutlery. They crawl in and our of the fridge, the microwave, the cupboards… even the wardrobes in the bedrooms. If this predicament sounds like the flat from hell, you’d be right. It’s without a doubt the second worst living conditions I’ve ever endured.
However living here was great because I’m a 2 minute walk from work, and the rent is a paltry $130 (£67) a week. The main reason I’m in Sydney is to save up money for travelling later so it was pretty perfect really. Despite the cockroaches.
Anyway last week, the day before I flew to Brisbane for 5 days, I got a text message from Vietnamese #1 telling me the landlord is upping the rent and we all have to move out within 3 weeks. Crap. And I was just getting comfortable here! However the timing was rather fortuitous. Allow me to explain.
A few weeks ago, Cristian had decided to move out anyway, to live with his boyfriend and a friend of his. The flat search had taken them several weeks – they’d viewed numerous properties: 3 storey pseudo-hostels for 15 people with curfews and other rules, squalid little flats with 3 people sleeping in the living room… there had been plenty of choice, especially if you were willing to pay > $200 a week. While I was away in Brisbane they found a two bed flat in Rose Bay (a rather affluent area) with room for 4 people. They took it, and were about to start their search for a new roommate when I found out I needed a new place. So I checked it out. The flat is a huge step up from before! Plus my roommates are actually likely to speak with me. So I’m moving in! Too easy.
Rose Bay is a fair distance from the city centre, but easily reachable by bus, and has much more of a coastal feel to it. I realised that although I was living really centrally, I wasn’t taking advantage of it at all. I don’t waste money on drinking, clubbing or shopping… so what do I need to live right in the middle of the city for? Makes sense to live somewhere much more quiet and pleasant. I’m much closer to the beaches and a lot of great places for walking. Should be a nice place to while away a few months in a Sydney winter! =)