As I mentioned in this post, the housing market in NZ is rather unique. Crappy stock, sky-high prices.
I thought it might be fun (in what sense of the word, I’m not quite sure, actually) to recount all the places I’ve lived in since leaving home.
Student life is, of course, meant for building up horror stories about bootstrapping. Two-minute noodles. Walls of beer bottles. Bongs and one-night stands and other awful flatmate escapades.
The boarding house
My first place was .. an experience. Along with one of my best friends, we set out to find somewhere we could both live. Nobody would rent to 17-year-olds, and no flats were advertising two empty rooms at once. Eventually though, we found a special situation: a six-bedroom townhouse/boarding house where each tenant paid the landlord individually. And he didn’t mind if we weren’t 18. (He actually also proposed us living in the basement apartment of his own house, with cheap rent in exchange for help with chores and cooking. That was a bit too weird, though.)
The first night my cell phone was stolen off the coffee table. Everybody locked their rooms when they weren’t home. Flatmates came and went, including the P-addict who used my soap and shampoo, the crazy old lady who threw dishes into the bin if they weren’t washed immediately, the girl who slept with the middle-aged body builder who lived next door, the guy just out of jail, and more.
The family townhouse
Next was another terraced house, with my friend and her grandad. Nothing much to report there. It didn’t last long; her mother came back to the country and I got the boot so she could live there instead.
The quiet suburban house
This is the furthest I’ve ever lived from public transport – a good 20 minute walk at least. Very inconvenient. Again, only lasted a few months.
The old bungalow
This was the oldest house I’d ever lived in, but it did have mixer taps (this is a requirement for me in any house). Flatmate had a few dope plants growing in the cupboard, but otherwise was sweet to live with. My first experience living on a main artery road, in which I learned to factor in road-crossing time in my walk to the bus stop, T had a major car accident just outside, and I vowed I would never buy a house on a busy road.
The suburban apartment
Apartments are rare outside of the CBD, but this was one of the notorious blocks. We were here for about a year. You pretty much couldn’t make any noise; the big communal rubbish bins were always overflowing and the pool was usually kinda grotty. Our dishwasher was home to cockroaches and for some reason half our mail never made it to our letterboxes, which were inside the lobby (I was a student then so had plenty of correspondence from Studylink to deal to … or I should have had, anyway).
The ghetto house
Nobody would rent to students. So we ended up in the ghetto. Our street was nice at one end, but at the other end was a state housing enclave – and that’s the end we lived at. Our room was a converted garage. There was mould in the closet, on the ceiling, and I could see my breath in front of me in the winter. Our landlord lost his job and when the hot water cylinder went, he took over a month to fix it. That was coming into winter, too. He also then tried to pin a bunch of things on us when we left, like the roof caving in. Oh, and we got burgled… three times?
Other fun things: nightmare flatmate still owes me nearly a grand from this. He was a terrible drunk and broke a couple of panes in our door while on the piss. Similarly, the boys used to wrestle all the time and managed to break a couple of windows doing so. I got half decent at painting/puttying. Nightmare flatmate also got his car rear window smashed several times, mostly by the shits down the road who also burgled us, and once by his girlfriend.
The thoroughfare house
Weed got sold. People came and went. One of the flatties literally had a walk in closet for a room. Another had a bit of casual polygamy going on. Lots of Naruto was watched.
The bottom floor studio
A really nice small place, albeit a tiny kitchen with old cupboards. But brand new bathroom, gorgeous built in cupboards and drawers and a cute little patio-type thing. It was a quiet, affluent neighbourhood handy to everything – and really cheap.
The bad: the yard was always in the shade so I hardly ever used the patio and our clothes took forever to dry on the line; it got a little too small for our liking (even the apartment we lived in had a living room); the landlord’s kids upstairs were often loud and the floor was thin; it was always dark because we were on the bottom floor and surrounded by fence/trees; T’s first bike got stolen, after which he hated the place; and it was just that little bit too far away from the west, where everyone he knows lives.
Also on a main road, but not at the same level as the other bungalow. We have a garage, a deck, lots of sun, a 20-minute walk to work for me and a spare room for junk, among other things. After moving in, we also found the previous occupants had been growing cannabis in the space between the roof and the house, hacking a power point to run electricity up into that space, and apparently using the hall cupboard (now my wardrobe) for drying.
The house itself isn’t all that nice, I’ll be honest – it needs work and it’s very much a rental (but all the cosmetic things, like the carpets and walls, are pretty well hidden once you move in with all your stuff). It’s at the low end of my standards, but it does well enough.
The house itself is split into two dwellings; the back one is a one-bedroom, and the tenant is a lovely older lady who’s rarely home. In fact, we haven’t seen since Christmas and just found out she’s down south caring for her sick mother. Hope she can continue to pay rent and keep her place – quiet neighbours are great!
So, that’s my woeful housing history from 2005-2012. What does yours look like?
Holy Shiet… sorry for my french, but you’ve lived in some crazy places.
Lol, oh boy. 2005 was living in a cheap basement suite one block away from public transit on the WRONG side of town. I’d get up for school and there would be prostitutes on the adjacent corner, and creepy guys trying to pick me up. The next 2 years were spent on the 10th floor in a very nice (high cost) 1 bedroom apartment right beside campus. When I moved out my rent was as much as my current mortgage on a 3 bedroom duplex :s After that there was 8 months in a 3 bedroom townhouse with two guys, and then 6 months in a 2 bedroom apartment with a girl who was bat shit crazy. The experience with her drove me to push up my home buying date and I bought/moved into my duplex about 2.5 years ago.
It’s crazy where life takes you some times…
Oh wow! How crazy. I first moved into a house with an older lady in college and rented out one of her bedrooms. She was crazy, so I moved out into the dorms. Then there were two mobile homes. It wasn’t so bad.
You will look back in a few years and wonder how you lived in those places!! They sound like a nightmare! It’s crazy what you put up with when you are young and broke.
Dorms in college, all 4 years, decent roommates; with a couple in grad school, all 4 years (but they broke up halfway through and I ended up living with just the dude); then I was pet-sitting for a few months in an enormous house in an avocado grove while getting on my feet in California; I then lived in sort of a half-way house with an older guy landlord who would offer my food to everyone else and lecture me; then in a sweet 3 bed/3 bath townhouse 10 min walking from the beach where I had the master bedroom and the BEST ROOMMATE EVER; we loved it so much that when it was sold we moved in next door to ourselves, in a mirror image townhouse (bizarro world!); then with the boyfriend in a 2 bed/2 bath in a gated upscale apartment complex (we had solar energy-supplied electricity, a gym, a pool, climate control, I loved it!); then NZ–a teeny tiny student apartment with no oven and no bathtub (gah), and for 3 years now, my current lovely compromise: 2 bed/1 bath (with tub) right next to the city and 10 min from work (walking). would prefer to have my own bathroom but WTH, it’s NZ!
Wow, I am very spoiled with where I have lived. I always reminded myself of that by comparing my living situation to my friend living in NYC, but even she hasn’t had awful places like yours – just very very tiny and shared with roommates, of course.
There was a lot of weed in your places, that’s what I gathered, haha.
My history is a lot of shared spaces. Usually with people I ended up friends with, but since there was never enough space to share, usually also with their fair share of drama. Yesterday I was telling my boyfriend about the roast-infested, mouse-infested place I lived in for two weeks and that was apparently an extremely horrifying story. I’ve also lived with a subway track literally a few feet from my living room windows. It’s all so cliche NYC, I know…
Hate renting. Can’t stand having a roommate in my face. Mighty glad I don’t have to do that anymore.
Best rental horror story? Hmmm…. Let’s see:
The pet cockroaches who did adorable acrobatics as they jumped from the kitchen cabinets to the counter?
The apartment that ran up a $300 power bill when no one was home and the power was turned off for a month?
The one where you could hear the neighbor upstairs tinkling in the toilet?
The place where I had the car belonging to the b!tch who parked in the space I was paying for towed away, after she left me to risk my life and virginity parking on the streets of our slum and hiking home in the dark of night?’
The place where the Section 8 neighbor used to lurk on his front patio, bedecked with guns and knives? That would be the fellow who threatened my 75-year-old mother-in-sin and cut the brake line of one of the other neighbors he didn’t like (he disliked all of us).
The place that housed “The Moaner,” an alcoholic who would occasionally get the DTs and entertain us neighbors through the evenings with her loud moaning?
The place where my roommie and I shared a room…and she kept bringing male friends to her bed late at night? The time one of them landed on top of me as he thought he was jumping into her sack was pretty entertaining.
The time the couple upstairs went off on a weekend vacation and forgot to turn their electric alarm clock off and the apartment manager said that even though yes, it indeed was so loud there was no way anyone could sleep with the racket going, he couldn’t justify entering their apartment to turn it off?
Gosh. I don’t know how to choose!
During my last year of university I moved out of my dad’s townhouse and in with my (then) boyfriend (now husband) and we rented his mom’s house for about a year. Then we bought a townhouse of our own and lived there for about a year until we bought our current house. I have no horror stories either about any of those places – I guess I’m lucky!
Nice post – it brought back lots of memories for me.
My first rental was for all of two weeks. It was a furnished room in a shared house in a largely Asian area of London. My flatmates were great: one fed me on pasta and beer when I arrived with no cash, and even offered to lend me my first week’s rent until I could get my bank cards sorted out. The other flatmates were friendly weed-dealers (at least, I think they were dealers: not sure how else they could afford a large Tupperware of the stuff in their living room).
My second rental was a room previously occupied by a dog, in a shared flat on the wrong side of my university town. It smelled of dog, and I had to keep the carpet permanently sprinkled with bicarb to reduce the smell. I was also mugged outside our door. Oh, and did I mention the cockroach farm that our neighbours seemed to be cultivating? But it was my first real taste of freedom, and I loved it.
My third rental was a cottage in a lady’s back garden – this time, as a newlywed. It was lovely and tiny in equal measures. Since the garden was shared, we also had dogs by proxy, and it was fun to be greeted by them when arriving home. Eventually we outgrew the cottage, but I still have fond memories.
My fourth (current) rental is a huge old-fashioned apartment. It’s totally great: parquet flooring, lounge that’s twice the size of the cottage, view of lots of trees, walking distance from shops and some basic restaurants. The couple who owns it plan to retire into it in a few years, and turn a blind eye when we make alterations, as long as they look good (painting, putting in chandeliers, hanging pictures). I love it, and for the first time I understand the urge to buy a property yourself and own it forever.
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