Thursday, September 15, 2011

You want to put it WHERE!?

I'm now onto the final of my three dealbrakers for taking a house: Location.

The key piece of property advice that one always hears is: “Location, location, location!” and it's a very important thing. You pay more for a good location, and that goes beyond just suburb (although the benefits of living in a good suburbs are significant).

Even when you've narrowed it down to the suburb you want, you still need to look at some of the finer points:

Is it on a main road? This can have several advantages, though you generally don't want a place that is. You have to consider your individual needs, and some roads are preferable to others. For instance, Oolon and I recently decided against a place on a main road, not just because it's on that road but also because of where on that road it is. The house wasn't near any official crossings and was also in an area with a median strip that included a waist-high rail, so I couldn't cross it illegally either.

Given that I do most of my travel by bike and that I need to cross the road in order to go in the right direction for my work, this rules out any property where it's particularly difficult to do that (at least until I start getting desperate to find a place).

You also need to consider things like ground elevation and drainage (avoiding flooding), whether the area is prone to bushfires (and whether it is worth the risk in your opinion), proximity to public transport and shops, etc etc etc. My rule here is that it be within cycling distance (about 10min by bike) so that I don't feel compelled to take a car. It also needs to be possible for both me and Oolon to cycle to our respective workplaces.

So yes, we are being fussy. You might even think us snobby! But there are some aspects of lifestyle which I'm not happy to give up as long as I can afford them financially.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No bitchin' in the kitchen!

Following on from my previous post about looking for a place to rent, I'm now on to discussing Dealbreaker #2: The Kitchen.

Now, a kitchen doesn't have to take up half the house. It doesn't have to be completely new. But it does need to have a certain amount of bench space. It does need to look like it isn't falling apart. It really needs to not look grimey and like it's just waiting to sprout mould.

I'm talking about the difference between this:

And this:

For the sake of argument, lets ignore the fact that kitchen 1 has people actively using it. In that image, though, you can see that the oven isn't great. You can also see that the wall next to the oven/stove is damaged. The added shelf for the microwave just looks extremely... Cheap. Can't think of a better word for it. The second kitchen also has more bench space and a visible pantry. The surfaces are nicer. It doesn't look grubby.

Now, that first kitchen is not the worst I've seen. I've seen kitches with less than half the bench space and mould visible in the corners of the place. You could still work in a kitchen like that. But these two properties are charging about the same amount in rent.

I think the preference is pretty obvious.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You need a ruddy big shotgun.

So, Oolon and I are on the hunt! For a place of our own! It's all very exciting and the ADHD-part of me that obsesses over things has latched on to one specific property that we viewed. The part of me that knows this is ADHD-related is doing its best to reassure the ADHD part that it's a lovely place while at the same time reminding it that we may not be offered it and to not be too upset if we don't get it.

So, I've now got something to blog about. I have, of course, thought about getting my own place before this week and have done some considering over what I would and wouldn't want in a property. I've narrowed down three or four deal breakers, and I'll talk about the first one today.

A landlord who cares about the property.

Don't get me wrong: I don't want someone who is obsessive about the place and wants everything exactly perfect and as they'd envisioned it from the start and can't handle a place looking lived-in. I wouldn't last a week with a land-lord like that!

But I do want someone who clearly gives a damn about something that they own. For instance, there's the first house that Oolon and I had a look at. It was spaceous, had wooden floors. A bit old, but potentially nice, despite the small kitchen (a topic which I will get to in a later post). What killed the deal for us wast the peeling ceiling. Well, not the peeling itself, but rather the response to the peeling ceiling. We asked the agent who opened the place about it, who reassured us that the leak which caused the problem had been fixed. She also told us that she didn't believe the landlord had any plans to fix the cosmetic damage, but that we could say on our application that we would only take the property "on condition that the ceiling was repaired". And that was just the most obvious problem with the place.

So we decided not to apply for the place. I want a house that I can be proud to live in and where it's easy to care about its upkeep. It's a lot harder to care a bout a place that is grimy and not nice to begin with, and I wouldn't want to live in a house that I don't feel good about at the outset.

Of course, there is the factor of previous tennants (some of whom are still occupying the place while it's being inspected), but I can look past that.

So, Landlords! Here's a tip: Show that you care about a place that you own, or you won't attract the sort of tennants who will care about your property.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


So, this is a bit late. I was meant to post something yesterday.

Unfortunately, I am so exhausted from work and trying to learn physics at the same time that I'm just not feeling very bloggy.

I'll start posting again when I have something more interesting to say.