Employment obstacles in Sydney’s Southwest (for me)

There are not a lot of jobs down here where we now live. That became obvious when I searched for jobs on the usual major online job portals like SEEK and Australian Job Search and added in our new postcode, or filtered the job results for ‘Sydney Southwest/M5 corridor’.

I am looking for menial pay-the-bills jobs like cleaner, data entry, basically anything I can do*, and the result list was ridiculously short.



I could of course look for work in Sydney and commute. Commuting comes with a cost in terms of time, petrol, road toll**, and wear on the car (= workshop bills), though, so the income needs to be worth it. For a part time job, the insane travel time and cost of commuting to Sydney is unlikely to pay off.

The average peak hour travel speed on the M5 motorway, which is the geographical life-line between the Southwest and Sydney, is about 35 km/hour (the Daily Telegraph quoting RTA, Feb 2011) although the speed limit is 100 to 110 km/hour most of the way. And it isn’t only bad in peak hours, see:



There is also a nasty long tunnel to trap people underground in bumper to bumper slow motion for a looong time. I don’t complain: this the price people like us pay to afford a house. We are “Westies’ now, and happy … well knowing how lucky we are to have a house.


So in the near future I’ll have a closer look on the work-from-home options, such as:

1. Try harder with freelancing

I start to think that work-from-home isn’t just an option, but my only option after all.

Lately I’ve worked on content for my freelancer profile*** on the Online Freelance BoardPeople Per Hour. I know I’ve earlier shunned International Freelance Boards for being a waste of time, but People Per Hour seems to host better quality projects and freelancers.

I’ll give it a go and try to win some projects (and maybe give O’Desk a chance too) to try to earn a bit of immediate cash, get more experience and build a stronger portfolio.

2. Try dog minding

One of the few local job ads that did come up in search results was a call for wanna-be dog minders to sign up with a national dog-minding agency. The agency offers kennel-free boarding to dog owners by placing their dogs in private care.

The role is advertised as a hobby job and additional income source for people who are retired or work from home and love dogs. The pay per dog per day is not much to speak of; but still money that rolls in steadily.

Dog minding is a business idea I’ve contemplated from time to time and still ponder. Dog minding as contractor for an agency is just another way to do it; a softer and safer beginning.

The agency charges a solid margin of course, but then takes care of advertising and marketing, provides clients, does bookings and admin, looks after the website, pays the insurance, provides support and emergency assistance, and above all, lends their trusted service brand.

The dog minders supply their presence, time, care, dog friendliness, house, secure yard and a daily walk. We have all that.

There are practical and psychological obstacles to explore, fix and test first, such as the lack of presentability of our house and yard due to our financial struggles. I think we’d need a lawn mower and furniture so we don’t seem careless and so we look like a normal and well established family.

Although we are great with dogs in any case, I realise that pet care is very much about human relationships and image; we need to look familiar to the dog owners to gain their confidence that their beloved family dog is in safe hands. That means: look ordinary and well settled.

Our dogs’ attitude to stranger dogs that enter their territory matters too. Agency representatives inspect the premises of all the wanna-be dog minders, and every dog owner who makes a booking with us comes and visits us with the dog before accepting the booking. Our dogs’ initial (probably alert) reaction to a sudden visit by a stranger dog can potentially scare these people off.

That’s all stuff for a new post. I look forward to do more research about dog minding-for-hire and compare dog minding as an independent business to dog minding as contracting.

Thanks for reading!


*A couple of essential notes:

1) There are many types of jobs I can’t do due to issues such as noise sensitivity, poor orientation, minimal working memory and limited social capacity

2) I hope to get a research-interviewer part time job I was interviewed for recently. However, even if I do get it I’ll need immediate work as well, since training and work doesn’t start right away. I’ll also need to supplement it with another income source in any case

**The road toll is reclaimable (minus 10% GST). However it still needs to be paid first, and our financial liquidity tends to linger in the danger zone, especially near the end of the month


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