Following on from this week’s earlier good news, we’ve just found out that we’ve got the apartment we wanted in Kirribilli. Views of the Opera House, here we come!!
We’d been told lots of horror stories about how difficult it was going to be to get somewhere, with tales of people outbidding each other during 10 minute apartment viewings and stories of estate agents refusing to lease to anyone without squillions of references. So it’s been a very pleasant surprise to get the very first place we applied for, although it’s been a real exercise in bureaucracy and has taken way longer than it would in the UK – more than 2 weeks from viewing and saying we wanted to move in, to actually getting a ‘yes’ from the estate agent.
Thinking about it though, I realise that K and I are in an extremely advantageous position. We’ve both got good salaries, we’ve got no major financial commitments (i.e. kids!), we’ve both got jobs where we can be flexible about taking time off to sort out viewings, appointments, references etc, we’re “respectably middle class” and we can afford a fair bit more than the average rent. If we’ve found the process a little bit stressful and unsettling, what must it be like for people who don’t have all of those advantages?
We knew that if it ended up taking a bit longer than we had hoped to find somewhere to live, we could always move into a hotel for a few weeks – it would have been expensive and inconvenient, but it would have been relatively easy for us to do – we could have cut back on a few meals out or bottles of wine to make savings.
What do you do when you don’t have that option? It reminds me how close we all are, whether we choose to think about it or not, to homelessness in one form or another. For the lucky ones among us with financial security, a strong network of family and friends, education and good employment, the vulnerability may not seem so apparent. But for others, the difference between having a home and being homeless is wafer-thin. A few months of not working; disability; a violent partner; debt getting out of control; a family background that leaves you with no foundation to start in life; a breakdown of some kind. These things can happen to anyone.