House Hunters International – Melbourne

I showed my mother House Hunters International (on HGTV) this summer for the first time. I’m glad she liked it, but we agreed that it was much better to watch other people look for a home than to do it ourselves. Having said that, she is number one on my list of people I would bring on a house hunting trip in France.

James Cook's house wasn't for rent.

I knew I was going to have to start looking for a home as soon as I landed in Melbourne. Since I am eternally a student, this meant finding roommates and a mostly furnished place. Also, I didn’t know anyone here, so living on my own was a bit daunting. I sent out a few emails before arriving, asked the son of a friend of my dad’s if he knew anyone who was looking for a housemate, etc. etc. Most people didn’t email back, but I figured I had two weeks after getting Down Under to find a place. Walking around the city was great. I love the architecture here.

A Melbourne Street

I really wanted to live in a cute row house with the metal detailing around the porch. The first two places I looked at were most definitely not that. I liked one, the roommate was nice and it was close to school but it was way too expensive. The second one was less great – a very sterile apartment and the people who already lived there were “bedroom dwellers”. The landlord showed me around and I didn’t even realize that one of the women was home until she answered the door for her friend just as I was leaving. They went straight back into her room. And the landlord wouldn’t let me replace any of the dorm-like furniture in the bedroom.

Most of the placed I looked at were either nice and expensive or gross and cheap. There were a few that were nice and (relatively) cheap, and luckily I found one! This story isn’t about that. One cold and dreary night I found myself in the rain after dark in an unlit (but very nice) suburb of Melbourne. I had no clue where I was going (Optus has terrible service in Alamein), and once I got to the house, I couldn’t find the front door. There was a giant truck parked in the driveway. I finally found the door. The guy who answered the door was REALLY EXCITED to show me around. I like it when people are excited about their homes. He shows me the room, which was a good size and had funky architectural details – a windowed alcove (it leaks), a fireplace (it leaks), another alcove that can be used as a closet (it smelled, but I don’t think it leaked). I was getting less and less excited about this house. So as to not be rude, I go into the living room to meet the other guy. As I’m sitting down, his girlfriend offers me a beer and I accept. I was pretty sure I was going to say no to the room, but at the very least, these guys seemed entertaining.

After the usual round of “Oh, you’re American.” “Yes.” “Where in America are you from?” “Boston.” “Do you watch footy?*” “As a matter of fact I do. I support Hawthorn.”** “Oh.” I got a question I hadn’t yet heard in my 12 previous houses: “Do you drop acid?” he said as he lit up a cigarette. INSIDE. “No, I don’t”. “Do you smoke?” “No, I don’t like smoke.” “We smoke outside when it’s nice.”

I tried a different tactic: “Why did the last people move out?” (it was a couple) “They wanted a place on their own. And they smelled. We had to get new couches.” Ok then.

Excited guy then started asking about what I was doing in Melbourne. I gave him the one sentence description and he almost fell out of his chair. “You should come with me the next time I go to a (..)” I can’t remember the word he used, but I asked what it was. “We all go out into the forest, get high, take our clothes off and hug trees. Literally. We hug trees!” His eyes lit up and focused on “that inward eye that is the bliss of solitude”*** Only it wasn’t solitude. It was actually a naked, drug fueled orgy in the woods.

It takes some effort to hug a tree like this...

At this point I was still there because I wanted to see what they would say next. If the previous 20 things I had heard there hadn’t already been deal breakers, the next one would have been. Me: “What do you guys like to do when you’re not working?” (although now that I think about it, I am pretty sure excited guy was unemployed). Plumber: “Hang out, listen to music, do some drugs. Usually I get home from a 12 hour day, drink four beers, then fall asleep.” Excited guy: “I hang out naked in the back yard.” He must have seen an eyebrow raised because he quickly followed it up with “I usually put a sign on the front door, so if you need to find me, you know to look in the back yard.” He misread the raised eyebrow.

I finished my beer and said goodbye, promising to get in touch by the end of the week. I didn’t.

In total I looked at about 14 places before I found one. If I hadn’t found one, I had seven more scheduled. House hunting is a grueling process, but I made it. My housemates are excellent, the location is nice, my room gets lots of afternoon sun, and soon (ok, eventually) it will be decorated. Best of all, they get really excited when I make my “real, American brownies”. Which is good, because I don’t know how to make any other kind.

*Australian Rules Football. Every person I’ve met here has asked me if I’ve watched it/like it/understand it. It’s not a complicated game, especially if you have watched as much American football, basketball, and soccer as I have. Rugby also helps. I was explaining it to others by my second week here. Then the season ended.

** “root” is a bad word here. Try going a week without talking about the teams you “root” for in a sporting town like this. Try. I dare you. I have slipped up in front of EVERYONE. Oh well. Besides, I will never be able to seriously say I “barrack” for a team. Seriously? Barrack? When you say “barrack” I think of building 407 (RIP) and grad student offices. And Marines, I guess.

***Wordsworth, bitches.


~ by Genevieve on October 10, 2011.

One Response to “House Hunters International – Melbourne”

  1. Finding a shared apartment/house on a student’s budget is much tougher than buying a home in southern France with several hundreds of thousands of euros as your budget! So glad you succeeded. There certainly were some interesting possibilities. Some seem uniquely Australian or some how frozen in time. Tree hugging???!

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