Yes, I know this looks like Blogless Sandy bought the house, but I’m the one just to the right of her. The other photos taken by the real estate agent were all wrecked by the sun.
So you know how when you want to move, you have a list of needs and wants? You know that you’ll have to compromise on some of the wants, but basically you know what you’re looking for? Mine were as follows:
- 4 bedrooms, or 3 and a dining room/study that we could convert to a bedroom while I still have 3 boys living with me.
- Within walking distance of a train station. Ryan21 and Evan19 have no desire to get their licences and they need to get to work etc. This was an annoying requirement, as it cut down hugely on where I could look. People kept telling me to get rid of my parasitic boys so I could live where I liked, but I’m reasonably fond of them.
- 2 living areas inside. This is bigger than the house I’m currently living in, but thinking about Christmas brought it home to me that in the future when the boys have families, Christmases, birthdays and the Biggest Day Of Them All (Mothers Day, of course!) will be very squashy unless we have a bit more space to spread out.
- A kitchen bench big enough for 2 thermomixes. This isn’t asking for much… the thermomix only takes up the space of a piece of A4 paper. You wouldn’t credit how ridiculously small some kitchens are. I’d be looking at a house on the internet, nodding, nodding, then I’d get to the kitchen shots and see NO bench space. Stupid.
- A walk-in wardrobe for me. This was definitely a ‘want’, not a ‘need’, as I’ve never ever had one, but I love the idea of the storage.
- A big laundry. Never had one, would love one.
- A corner pantry. When I designed this kitchen I currently have, the cabinet maker was able to fit one in. I LOVE it.
- A Caesar stone bench top. Definitely a ‘want’, and it’s something I could put in at a later date if the house didn’t have one.
- A smaller, more low maintenance garden than the one I currently have. With all the best will in the world, I can’t keep up with the space I have here. I need a block of land that in the short-term will be easy enough for me to manage, but has potential for the longer term for me to start up food gardening on a larger scale when I have more time. Or when the zombie apocalypse hits.
- Within a half-hour’s drive to work.
- Space enough for the chooks.
- A doggie door for the dogs and cats. Never had one, but it’d be an agreeable luxury.
- Ducted heating and cooling. Oh my wordy yes.
- A single story dwelling. I’ve only ever lived in a two-story house when I was sub-letting in my first home away from home when I was a student and it wasn’t bad, but I’d prefer the easy access of having everything on the one level. However, if the right house came along and the boys’ rooms were all upstairs, I’d consider it.
- A pretty house.
- A verandah out the back. I want somewhere attractive to sit and have a drink and a chat. If it’s big enough to entertain out there as well, so much the better!
- Real wooden floor boards. This started off being a preference, but as I looked at more houses, it turned into a need. None of this ‘floating floorboards’ rubbish! I adore my real wooden floors; so practical and so attractive. Mrs Popplesfield threw up in my bedroom yesterday – imagine the drama if my room was carpeted? Tiled floors are practical but look cold… it’s real wooden floorboards all the way for me.
- It should have a lemon tree. This started off as a joke at work, when I kept coming in, saying, “I’ve found the Perfect House For Us… again!!” I kept saying that the only thing I want is a lemon tree. Still, to be honest, I don’t have a successful lemon tree here and I’d like one.
- The second most important requirement: I have to spend a sensible amount on it, enough to get a lovely house for the boys and I but also I need to have enough left over from the sale of my block to have enough to make a substantial deposit into my superannuation. This, after all, is the reason I’m doing this. So houses in the immediate vicinity are OUT. They’re all as ridiculously expensive as my current house is. :)
- And finally the most important one: the house in some ways is an upsize to where we’re living now, but it’s a balancing act. It has to be big enough to house myself and my remaining 3 hulking sons, but NOT so big that when they leave I’m left rattling around in a ridiculously big house all by myself. (And Poppy and Jeff and Daphne and Maris and my way into-the-future miniature wire-haired dachshund called Audrey.)
Looking for houses is so much easier now. Realestate.com.au is extremely addictive and it allows you to inspect hundreds of properties and narrow down the ones you actually want to physically inspect. I have looked at literally hundreds over the last few months. I fell in love with a place at Edithvale and was going to put in an offer before auction, but my brother in law looked at it for me and warned me off it, saying there was 100K worth of building fixer-uppers to do to it. It eventually sold for 825K, so with stamp duty and the improvements it would have ended up being virtually a million-dollar house. It was a little weatherboard cottage… not worth that. Plus, I’m not made of money!
Then I found a couple of lovely houses in Oakleigh South. Everything done already, gardens smaller than mine but still do-able, only 15 minutes drive to work…. I didn’t end up bidding on either but they both went for just a couple of grand under 1 million dollars each. That’s a lot of money. I decided to look a little further out.
Then I found an Edwardian house in Mordialloc. It was on half a block of land and it was SO cute. It only had 3 bedrooms but we could have adapted a sunroom for Evan19. I went up to 740K at the auction, but then something stopped me. I could have gone higher but wow. It’s on 400 square metres of land, the roof needed fixing, the kitchen needed updating, the floors in the bedrooms would have to be covered by carpet… I let it go. It went for 830K, I think. This auction was on Dec 19, just before Christmas. Blogless Sandy was with me at the auction. On the way home she said, “Just relax over Christmas and give the house hunting a rest. There’ll be a new batch of houses coming in mid-January.” Sensible advice.
So of course as soon as I got home I fired up the computer and went back onto realestate.com.au.
I found a house that had just been listed. It was for private sale. The price quoted was CHEAP. Well, cheap for Melbourne, anyway. In any other city but Sydney it’d be a ridiculous amount of money. It was further out than I would like, but it appeared to tick a lot of the boxes on my wants and needs list. I rang the agent on Dec 22 and arranged to go out there that night and have a look.
OMG. I couldn’t believe it. This house was PERFECT for us. All but 2 of the things on my list were there. Everything else was done. The people who owned the house were planning to live there forever, but then the husband was offered his dream job in the mines in WA. They originally came from there and it was too good an offer to pass up. They had the house on the market 3 weeks before I saw it and a guy bought it subject to finance, then after 3 weeks told them that he couldn’t get it. Then 2 days after they put it up for sale again, I walked in. Fortunate Frogdancer who has her finances in order! I put in an offer the next day and it was accepted that night. David22, Evan19, Blogless Sandy and I were actually at the house having another look when the news came through. It was very exciting.
Before they knew they were leaving, the current owners restumped, put a new roof on it, installed a huge set of solar panels, put a rainwater tank on, replastered the walls, renovated the bathrooms and kitchen, put in a very expensive electric ducted heating and cooling system, (and there’s a gas ducted heating system through the floor as well… I’ll never be cold) and basically made the house totally fresh and shiny and new. It has fruit and nut trees, a back garden that is currently paved (low maintenance) but of course the pavers can be pulled up when I’m ready to garden. The block is 100 square metres smaller than the one I’ve got now, which was just the size I was looking for.
Bonus points: 5 minutes walk to the beach. The beach is a dog leash-free beach for most of the year, so Poppy and Jeff will love it. It’s 5 minutes from the river, which will be another nice walk for us. The laundry is huge enough to swing a cat in it, not that I’m planning on doing that. The station is literally a 2-minute walk, so although the time spent on the train will be longer for the boys, the time spent walking is substantially shorter, so it works out about the same. An Aldi supermarket is just around the corner, within walking distance, and the vet is around the other corner. The freeways are a 4-minute drive away. Turn left and I’m going towards the city. Turn right and I’m heading to the Peninsula, which means I’m closer to my sister.
The two things I’m letting go? There’s not enough space for the chooks. I’ve already found a home for them with a friend from work though, so that’s ok. The other one is that it’ll take me an extra 10 minutes each way to commute. Or I could take the train with the General Public…? Still, as regards the extra drive time, I figure that’s why God created podcasts, surely?
The price? Way cheaper than anything around here, but when you consider its proximity to the beach, I won’t ever lose money on it. If it was in my neighbourhood you’d have to pay an extra 400K on it, easy. This gives me a nice chunk to throw at superannuation and it eases the pressure on what Old Lady Frogdancer will do in her declining years. I couldn’t be happier.
We move in around Easter. This means I stay close to home during term 1 when I’ll be really busy with my Theatre Studies class and their production, and then we move to our ‘seachange’. I can’t believe my luck.
I have pictures from the brochure to show you, but they’re taking their sweet time to upload, so I’ll press ‘publish’ and show you all tomorrow. It’s my nephew’s wedding day today, so I have to go and beautify myself so as not to embarrass the family. It’ll take a while…
Thermomix recipe: Gin, Tonic and Lime. Just the thing for sitting out on the verandah after work on a hot summer’s day. I’m going to have a verandah!!!!! Well, it’s out the front of the house, but given time I’ll build a big, awesome expansive verandah out the back as well. :) I like a good project!