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House-Hunting Drama in Melbourne

January 8, 2011

When I moved to Micasa, my current studio apartment, I made a promise to myself that I would find another place in a suburb after a year. I think, right now, after almost a year, I’m done with the hustle and bustle of city life in Melbourne’s City Business District, and I think I’m ready for the quite and peaceful life in a suburb. I’m so ready to take another risk and, don’t worry, if I don’t like it, I can always reverse and move back to the city. Easy. So, for the past one month, I have been looking for a place to live in a suburb that would suit my lifestyle for, maybe, the next two years. Trust me, it’s not so easy to go house-hunting in Melbourne. There are so many things that I have to scrutinize and consider.

First, I have to consider the price – ideally, the weekly rent should be about a half of what I’m currently paying (I wish I could save more money for bags and travels). Second, I have to look at the distance – ideally, it should be within 30 kilometres from the city (I don’t want to spend every morning sleeping on the train). Third, I have to be aware of the amenities – ideally, it should be close enough to a supermarket (I don’t want to be starved with the same Maggie). Fourth, I have to make sure that it is located in a safe environment – ideally, it should be a place where no gangsters live nearby (I don’t want to be bullied by a drunkard at night). Well, ladies and gentlemen, here are what I found.


First, I met Lucy who owned a nice studio apartment above a double garage in Toorak, 5 kilometers south-east of Melbourne. When I first saw this suburb, the first thing that crossed my mind was an elegant image of Wisteria Lane in Desperate Housewives. And the moment I looked at the studio apartment, I fell in love with it instantly. I mean, who wouldn’t be attracted by the perfect garden setting that comes with eggs and chickens running around the house? It looked a bit worn-out, but I liked the idea of a calm living in the suburb with the sound of crowing roosters in the morning. Plus, there was an aura of country-ness and rusticity around the house. Three days later, I called Lucy and she said, “I’m sorry, Hilmi. Someone has already taken the apartment. He’s a painter. I think I’d prefer hanging out with a painter.” (Read: I’m just a dull PhD student).

A Studio Apartment in Toorak

Second, I met Chris who owned a large studio apartment in Reservoir, 12 kilometers north of Melbourne. When I told Janet and John about it, they didn’t look too happy. They asked me to go to Reservoir and experience it myself. I had a bad feeling that there was something wrong with Reservoir. But, I went to Reservoir anyway, met Chris and inspected the apartment. Oh, what a great place it was – semi-furnished with bed, table, mini oven, fridge, etc. But, what’s so great about it was the location – it was close to a train station, shops, parks and everything I would ever need. Plus, it was located just behind a grand supermarket, and I couldn’t help imagining myself singing in the meat section like Michael Buble’s hit video Haven’t Met You Yet. Three days later, I called Chris and told him that I didn’t want to live too close to a supermarket that would make me feel like an illegal immigrant.

A Studio Apartment in Reservoir

Third, I met Mike who owned a sweet bungalow in Oakleigh, 15 kilometers south-east of Melbourne. It was such a pain in the ass to find the bungalow. Mike didn’t even pick up his phone when I desperately needed for direction. So, I spent the whole afternoon walking about 20 kilometers looking for the damn bungalow (I wish I could have subscribed to mobile internet and made use of GPS). I finally found the bungalow after a few hours of persistence and patience. The bungalow looked like a little timber cottage and was perfect for a single person. Mike lived in front of the bungalow with his Chinese girlfriend who loved curry. A good omen, I thought. When I told him that I liked the bungalow, he said that he didn’t like it, but he was desperate for someone to move into the bungalow as soon as possible. Three days later, I called Mike and said No, Thank You. I had a strong feeling that Mike had killed his previous tenant in this nice creepy bungalow.

A Bungalow in Oakleigh

Fourth, I met Daniel who rented a beautiful two-bedroom house in Williamstown, 8 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. When I learnt that the tenant’s name was Daniel, I took it as a good sign (Donna said that I would have two Daniels if I decided to move into this house). An Italian chef, Daniel was such a gentleman who showed the house as if he had already made up his mind that I would be his future housemate. The medium-sized room was perfect for me. I liked the living room with a projector, the kitchen with sunset at the back, and a veggie garden next to a swimming pool. I was so excited when Daniel called me later and congratulated me for being No 1 in his potential-housemate list. My excitement was short-lived when, a few days later, Daniel told me that his 75-year old landlord wanted only an Australian or a permanent resident inside the house. “My landlord doesn’t like a student,” Daniel said. “Why?” I asked. He hesitated for a while and said, “Students are always dirty and irresponsible.”

A House in Williamstown

Finally, I met Tammy who owned a spacious two-storey bungalow in St Albans, 15 kilometers north-west of Melbourne. Tammy was a professional landlord from Vietnam. For her, life has to be easy and simple. Why do we need a complicated life, she said. I liked her immediately. But, her bungalow was more likable. It was indeed spacious – a big living room, a big kitchen, a big backyard, a big garage and a big parking space. There were 3 single bedrooms on the upper floor and a huge master bedroom on the ground floor. This master bedroom was perfect for me, Tammy said. She was right. It was fully-furnished and elegant, like a five-star hotel room. Plus, it was only $145.00 a week – less than a half of my current rent. Three Aussies were currently living in three single rooms upstairs. I didn’t know whether I was ready to share my life with strangers, but I thought I’m always ready for anything. Oh, one of the tenants was a 30-something man named Daniel (am I a magnet to all Daniels around the world?). Heck, I think Destiny had found me.

A Bungalow in St Albans

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 12:02 am

    St Albans. eh? We know where to go next time we visit Melbourne. hehehe….purrr….meow!


  2. ikpunye permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:20 am

    Cantik…lawa..cute..suka lah.
    Happy sharing! 🙂
    Sharing is caring …err but sometimes, scaring…hehe


    • January 9, 2011 11:29 am

      Thanks. Sharing is indeed ‘scaring’. Learnt that myself. But I’ll try again.


      • ikpunye permalink
        January 9, 2011 4:10 pm

        If this time around it turns out to be ‘scaring’ again, like you said lah, you can always move back kan. Hopefully tidak lah menakutkan sangat. huhu

        Best of luck! 😉


  3. January 11, 2011 1:15 am

    Congratulations on finding your new home. On living with strangers, well, friendship always begins with that point. Good luck!


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