House of Fun or Den of Iniquity?

About a fortnight ago, after a great amount of thinking and much agonising, I decided to move out of the sharehouse I live in at the moment. It was a tough decision because I’ve lived here for over two years, and I adore my housemates. Deirdre is one of my closest friends from high school, and living with her has been an absolute delight, Eliza is a sweetie (plus she’s hilarious when drunk), and Titian, a friend from Uni who moved in not long ago, is fun to live with too. Plus, she works in a bookshop and since I work in a library, we get to have great conversations about how people who like books so much can be so damn stupid.

So obviously the reason I want to move out has nothing to do with the people I live with. Completely the opposite, in fact. I can’t really cope with living in this house anymore. We’ve nicknamed it Castle Anthrax for a long time (because we are four blondes and brunettes between the ages of 21 and 31), but it’s really starting to live up to the “Anthrax” part of the moniker. It seems to have deteriorated a lot in the last six months; it was never great to begin with because it’s a really old house and hasn’t been maintained properly by the owner, but I’m finding it harder and harder to overlook things like the holes and cracks in the walls, the mould problem several of the rooms have, and the fact that no matter how much any of us clean, the house never really feels clean, because it seems to have an inherent griminess to it. I think what finally cracked it for me was when the cockroaches moved in. I can stand to kill the occasional roach, but when they persist in your house despite repeated use of roach bombs and putting baits everywhere, it gets a bit too much. Especially since they seem to really, really like my room, the site of lots of roach-killing chemicals but no leftover food at all. I think it’s because there’s a door leading out to the backyard in my room, so it’s pretty easy access for them. At any rate, the night when I was lying in bed with Stu, and we were doing the whole coupley snuggle-and-talk thing, and I looked up and saw a cockroach crawling up the wall behind his head…well, that night was kind of a clincher.

I have Secret Life of Us housemates (although I’m sure Deirdre would inflict her wrath upon me if she thought I was comparing her in any way to Samuel Johnson, which I swear I’m not), and a He Died With a Felafel in His Hand house. As far as pop-culture combinations and references go, it’s pretty messy.

And so, the search for a new house has begun. It’s not going to be easy. Already I’m realising that I’m probably going to have to pay more than I really want to for somewhere that meets what I want out of a house. Then again, I am a total cheapskate when it comes to necessities, so that’s hardly surprising. Also, I need to take into account the fact that the area I’m looking in, which defines as “Inner Bayside” isn’t really the cheapest area around. That said, I’ve seen ads for rooms in dodgy-sounding houses in craptacular suburbs going for $150 a week, so it’s quite possible that after two years plus in the same house, and it being the first sharehouse I’ve lived in, that I’m just out of touch with the current housing prices.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you need to be quick. Already I’ve rung up about houses only a day or two after they’ve been advertised, only to hear “Sorry, we’ve already found someone”. Of course, it could be that my reputation is getting around and they’re all thinking “Oh no! Not that Aimee girl! Quick, think up an excuse!”

The other thing I’m realising is that Melbourne currently seems to be suffering a shortage of potential housemates who don’t have some sort of personality disorder.

I looked at a flat in Elsternwick the day before yesterday. To be perfectly fair to the current tenants, they didn’t seem to have any real personality disorders. Just interesting definitions of what constitutes space, and also personal hygiene. They were nice enough apart from that, but the flat was absolutely awful. So bad, in fact, that I went home and thought “damn, it’s a palace!”.

Yesterday evening after work I looked at another flat, this time in Brighton. It was actually really nice, although the room is far too small for me, especially considering that there’d be nowhere else in the flat to store my book collection. The problem was that I’d arranged to go and see it the night before, but didn’t actually get to meet any of my potential flatmates because the only person home when I rocked up at the agreed time was the guy who’d moving out. He was actually very nice, but it’s not really very helpful. Ah well. They’ve got my number, I guess. I don’t really think the room’s for me, owing to intense smallness (the guy had a queensize bed and a tiny wardrobe in it, and that took up all the room), which is a shame because everything else (except maybe the guys who are staying on, but I WOULDN’T KNOW) seems really nice.

I’ve only physically seen those two flats so far. I’ve been ringing up after a lot of ads, but as I stated above, rooms seem to be disappearing very quickly at the moment. I rang up about a couple of places yesterday. One of them was in Elwood, but it was one of those arrangements where the landlord lives out the back and rents out rooms in the house, which has always struck me as dodgy and isn’t really the sort of environment I’m looking for. What I really want is a place where I can happily hang out at home with the other people there. Which is what I have RIGHT NOW. Sigh.

The phone conversation that prompted the psycho comment happened last night. Ringing up about an apartment in Murrumbeena, I spoke to a woman who put me on edge immediately, partly because she was brusque and unfriendly almost to the point of rudeness, and partly because she reminded me a bit of someone I used to know who became a bit obsessive and started stalking me (which is always the impression you want to get from potential housemates). After about thirty seconds of talking to her, I realised there was no way in hell I wanted to live with her, or even see the apartment. She asked me her name and I told her, and politely paused to give her a moment to introduce herself. She didn’t. Moving along, I told her a bit about myself. Now, I understand perfectly that you have certain things you want and expect in housemates, and of course not everyone’s going to fit your requirements. I told her a bit more about me, and she started arranging a time for me to come over. This was after I’d asked her to tell me a little bit about herself and the house and she’d completely ignored me. I agreed to going over on Thursday night. She asked me if I’d mind text messaging her with my name and number, and she’d message the address back to me. That struck me as a bit weird, because I didn’t see why she couldn’t just tell me the address over the phone, and also, I’d rung her mobile with mine, so my number would have been displayed, and she already knew my name. I hesitatingly agreed that that would be fine (while thinking, ohhhhkaaay then), and then she completely changed her mind, decided we wouldn’t be compatible at all, and hung up on me.

We were probably both relieved, actually.

I’m not sure I’m going to get out of this househunting business unscathed, actually. At any rate, I’ll keep you posted with more (mis)adventures as they occur. Wish me luck.

4 Responses to “House of Fun or Den of Iniquity?”

  1. Missjenjen Says:

    Oy, vey!! You have my sympathy and understanding!! Share housing is really difficult sometimes and the Melbourne rental market is very, very seasonal. This is the worst time of year because of all the students arriving. If you can hold off until maybe March or April things get a bit easier then, but given the thing with the cockroaches I’d be wanting somewhere else PDQ, too.

  2. gypped Says:

    and of course we all know you deserve the best. what about my side of the river?

  3. Aimee Says:

    Thanks, Miss Jen Jen, for your sympathy. 🙂 Yeah, I’ve been starting to think that I’d be best to wait for a while, given that there’s so many brand spankin’ new Uni students looking to move out of home and all that, and I’m really not in all that much of a hurry (mostly at the moment because the cockroach baits finally seem to be working!). And I want to be sure that when I DO move, that it’s somewhere nice and worth all the hassle. As for you, Miss Gyppy, you know I’d love to be on your side of the river. It’s just a matter of it not being particularly convenient for work or Uni. Give it a year or two though?

  4. Deirdre Says:

    She’s so right, you know. But it doesn’t go far enough. I object to any connection whatsoever to Secret Life of Us. I like your site but that’s going too far. Seriously. I’ll felafel your arse and then you’ll be sorry, Aimee.

    Mind you, we are housemates of fantabulosity. It’s good to see that being acknowledged.