Our income situation is about to get serious. We’ve obtained a surprise opportunity to take a house loan and are in the process of buying a house. That is fantastic!
Actually, we’ve drifted in a purgatory of uncertainty for weeks and wouldn’t have got this chance without the excellent help from several great professionals who I warmly recommend. Just not on this blog due to anonymity.
Goodbye to our landlord’s deep pockets
We wanted to buy a house because we pay a high rent where we live, and higher every year. We love the location of our small, old, mouldy flat: a relaxed, somewhat scruffy non-posh beach suburb, but all those rent money go out the window and into the evil Landlord’s deep pockets.
So while we scramble to make ends meet we don’t build up any capital, and time flies. If we stay here we’ll most likely be in precisely same situation 10 years down the track, just 10 years older. We’ll be in our 50s 10 years from now. I guess that is why people buy houses – to have something to hold on to as they get old.
Land of the Westies
We will now become Westies, because the new suburb is of course far out west where anyone who isn’t rich move out when they want to buy property. So ‘hoorah’ – we’ll help boost the booming western suburbs statistics.
The west connects to the city via the regional traffic corridor with its peak hour traffic mayhems, kms of spooky tunnel and crowded fast-food oases. The cultural side of the west consists of shopping malls, McDonalds’ and other consumption empires – places where I’d never go. So culturally, it will be even more like living on an alien planet. However:
Yard with strong roots
The house is fantastic because we get our own shielded yard. We even get our own tree – tall, impressive, aged, it hovers over the yard like a friendly giant. When I saw the tree and put my hand on its stem, I felt like it had missed us for aeons. Here we are!
There is a lovely terrace for our family meals and outdoor home offices, and a nice open kitchen with wooden floorboards. The house is small, but we didn’t even look at the rooms before making up our minds. The yard is perfect!
Our little road is calm and quiet, out of the way from major traffic ores. It is on the edge of bushland with glimpses to the mountains, and far from the ocean of course. There will be no morning ocean swims and runs along the coast. Instead, I will run on dirt roads in bushland. We’ll get one more dog -bigger – to make me feel safer while my husband works overseas more often to pay for the house.
Landing on Planet Mortgage
Property ownership is a strange new world to us. Hearing about mortgage payments was always like hearing about starving kids in Africa – a tragic, but reassuringly distant and surreal reality. Now it is here, we are in it. We have a mortgage; it owns our home!
Mortgage owns all these lives stuck in their cars in the M5 traffic corridor every day, flowing to and from work, jammed whenever the stream stops. And I am so happy this finally happened to us. We’ll have a yard and a big tree and a sense of ownership, independence and maturity. We will become more human.
We did of course study the step by step house buying procedure and learned new words such as cooling-off period, settlement date, first home buyer’s grant and mortgage insurance. We were in meetings with the real estate agent, the bank’s home loan consultant and the solicitor. Now I know what a solicitor is. I still feel like I am on an alien planet in an avatar body, pretending to be local in corporate attire; amazed that it works. The loan has been unconditionally approved. The settlement process is on track. We have a house. Wow. We’ll officially own a piece of the Earth. And we own a tree! (which is probably much older than us!).
Money, money, money
This is where it becomes serious: houses are not free. We will in fact, when we finish paying off the loan, have paid for one more house in interest charges alone, more expensive than the house we actually buy. That is how the world of mortgage works.
We can in principle repay the loan with my husband’s income alone, but it would be extremely unfair – and risky: a small accident, a dental visit or vet emergency could tip us off the narrow path of monthly repayments. I do as much freelance work as I can get my hands on, but it is not enough. I must get a job.
There are heaps of so called easy job that would make my life Hell – jobs in beeping, whizzing, bustling environments, jobs where one is required to juggle many balls in the air at once, be a big smile on the phone, find places (I get lost anywhere), chat with boring co-workers and mingle in crowds. Fast paced, superficial, social jobs that are supposed to be easy are the worst.
However, there are sure menial jobs I can handle, for example cleaning and elderly care. I have lived from that type of jobs before. That was back in my home country where dirty work is better paid. Still, a small secure income every month is better for bill-payments than patchy, unpredictable sums that may or may not materialise.
The pride barrier
Pride is a barrier too. Since I now have a master degree, going back to working in crappy unskilled jobs does make me feel like a failure. And the value of my education erodes all the time I don’t use it.
At least the risk of running into former co-students in the West is low, because they are presumably busy nurturing their blooming business careers in big cities.
Hopefully this blog can help me overcome barriers. It lets me turn crappy jobs into stories. It’ll help me to feel like a cultural anthropologist who investigates obscure corners of industries rather than just a fed up cleaning assistant. I already do it all the time – observe, analyse, shape and tell. Maybe that is what I am meant to do.
After all, who am I to think that I ought to know my career destination? Hardship converts to meaning every day, curses turn out to be blessings in disguise over time. Blessings turn out to be curses. I trust it all makes sense in the big puzzle that is life, even if I don’t know precisely how.