Saturday, May 27, 2017

The other cost of renting...

Today I want to talk to you about an aspect of renting that I never hear addressed in the media.

This isn't a complaint about the cost of renting or the availability of rentals in areas that offer decent amenities. This is about the cost of having to up and move all the time.

It seems, at the moment, that on any suburban street you drive along in Melbourne, there is some house or other being torn down and replaced with new houses, town houses, or apartment buildings. It's nice the shabby old houses are being replaced by new, modern abodes, however, the stories behind these rebuilds are often not so nice.

Often those stories involve families having to pack up their homes, their kids rooms, their memories, and find somewhere new to live. This often leads to kids having to change kindergarten or school. Kids and their families having to leave their friends and community behind. The parents search for somewhere new to live - usually somewhere more expensive for the same amount of room, or if they can't afford more expensive, then something smaller or further away from shops and transport.

And usually, the following year, or the year after that, the landlord will make the financially beneficial decision to sell, or rebuild. The family will have to repeat the process.

The instability and uncertainty is wearing. Most people are aware of these costs.

But the thing that is not spoken about is the monetary cost to renters of this constant moving. Before a renter can retrieve the bond from their previous rental, they must have packed up and left the rental so the landlord can make sure everything is in reasonable order. This means there is no bond to help with costs, and the bond from the first place cannot be used to pay the bond (or part thereof) for the next place. This has to come out of the pocket of the renter.

As well as this, moving is expensive. It can cost thousands of dollars to move house. Dave and I once moved twice in a year and it cost us $10 000 to do so. We didn't use a white glove service (where you pay someone else to come pack up your home), and we didn't hire a cleaner to make sure we left the property spick and span. We did that work ourselves. We hired reasonable movers - we didn't have a car a the time.

$10 000, let that sink in...

Our rent only came to $15 000 per annum at the time. Those were out of pocket costs (actually we had to ask Dave's parents to loan us the money and while we were able to repay the bond once we got that back, we were never able to repay the rest).

If families have to move once a year at $5 000 each move, then in 25 years of renting, they'll have spent $110 000 on moving cost alone!

That is a horrible thought.

Something must be done to protect renters from these costs. Somehow, renters security needs better protection!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The clouds parted...

Jesus! (say that in Mexican)

Forgive me folks, for it has been two weeks since my last blog post.

It isn't that I haven't had any ideas for posts, but rather that I haven't had any time. So, once again, this is liable to be a 'catch up' post - so many of mine are lately.

The first thing I want to talk about though is that, as I was saying to Dave just now, I feel like the clouds have parted. All the anxiety and depression and illness I felt last year is all but gone. While I have not found peace with the whole Erik situation yet (possibly, I never will), most days I don't think about it. If I do think about it, I'm not consumed by anger, or despair. The stress of the PhD is gone and I have no regrets about leaving it behind. This is probably because, a) I have a book launch coming up and, b) I got full time, rewarding, work almost immediately after leaving. I had been told it would be very difficult for me to get work without the prestige of a PhD in my corner, but not only did I get full time work (a minor miracle in this economic environment), but it is in a position and field where I can positively affect the lives of other people - something I felt Deakin was not supporting me in doing at all.

And... The financial worries are gone. Living hand to mouth is gone. We were struggling so much and it was having such a negative impact on our well-being that I couldn't even express the hopelessness I  was feeling. We were living below the breadline and that was with Dave's mum supporting us. We were living beyond our means because we had no other choice. Not having to wake up each morning wondering if we'd have enough money for dinner is an amazing feeling - and I do not exaggerate.

So, there you go. I'm keen to get back to my GP and see about weaning off the anxiety medication.

In other news...

Lukas' school had a concert last week and he played in several acts because bassists are a rare commodity. One act, of course, was his band, and they were great! They were definitely up there is the top five acts (there were more than five acts). I'm so proud of him. He has found something he loves and he'll going for it with all that he has. He's achieving great things in his Vet Music and in his other music classes at all. He'll probably drop math mid-year because he's not doing so well in that, and he does need to put more effort into English, but he's doing well in philosophy and media, and he is kicking it in music. I couldn't be prouder.

What else? Oh yeah, did I tell you how sexy my deodorant is making me feel?

I picked up this deo a couple of weeks ago, because it smelled nice, I couldn't read the label, but Dave could and pointed out that it was 'sexy' deodorant. Sexy deodorant, just let that sink in. I mean I know Lynx already cornered the market on sexy deodorants, but that's been a joke for a long time now. 

I can't say the deodorant makes me feel particularly sexy. I don't put it on and ravage Dave at the kitchen counter while he makes the kids' school lunches (although, the man in the house making school lunches apparently does it for a lot of women according to anecdotal evidence). Sexy deodorant, please!

My colleague and I sent off our paper for peer review a couple of weeks ago. Not expecting to hear anything before the end of July but it feels good to have achieved writing it and sending it off nonetheless. Feels like I'm still keeping my hand in. I have a couple of other papers rolling around in my grey matter - I have more grey matter than your average human, so that's the most likely space for those papers to be rolling around. I'm hoping working doesn't sap too much energy from writing these up.

I have acclimatised to the routine of getting up at 5am to get ready for work. I give myself two hours because it takes me a while to wake up and I loathed being rushed. I've been thinking of possibly getting up at 4.30 to get a bit of writing in, whether it be this blog, something creative (I still need to finish the book I was writing for the PhD), or one of those papers. I'm falling asleep at 9.30pm anyway, so what's another 30 minutes? I'm more lucid in the morning than in the afternoon or evening anyway (despite it taking a while to wake up - the mornings are definitely quieter). And if I've managed to acclimatise to 5am wake ups then I'd acclimatise to 4.30am wake ups, too.

I think I'll wrap this up with a decluttering update (because this post is getting too long, and that is the antithesis of minimalism). We've now sold most of the big items of furniture we want to get rid off. We only have Bryn's trundle bed and a long black Ikea desk to go furniture wise - which reminds me, I need to photograph those things and post them for sale tonight. A lot of small stuff has been donated to op shops and our primary school (they were so grateful for all the good quality books we sent them). There are still some more op shop donations to be made. However, I've set a deadline for donating stuff. On the Queen's birthday long weekend I'm hiring a Mother Loving 'Uge skip and chucking whatever has not been donated or sold. That's three weeks away. I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas about this. Minimising our possessions (and not even drastically) is actually lifting the weight off my psyche. Having space to breathe is just unbelievably rewarding. The spaces freed up by the selling of furniture don't even look bare, they just looks lighter.

So, there's your update. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Weekends Blogs Only?

Bugger, I had a whole post I'd completed but then the battery on my laptop died. This a work laptop - with a Windows platform, gah, I miss my Mac. Not that there is anything wrong with my Mac, it's still here, I could still use it, but it doesn't have JAWS or Zoomtext - both adaptive technologies I've learned to use in the last month (I'm really actually very impressed with myself, especially with JAWS which is a notoriously complex piece of software to manipulate).

Anyway, what I had written was that I've learned that I'm very much physically unfit for full time work. I'm soooo tired after work that I find myself dropping off at 9.30pm. Very unlike me. I'm sure I'll acclimatise soon, but in the meantime, I doubt I'll be blogging much during the week. So sorry, I know how you all hang on my very word...

Also, I just want to say that people who believe people who live on pensions because they're lazy need to get their heads read! This week I received my pension payment (I'm on the only non means-tested pension, because the lobbyists for the blind and visually impaired are fantastic! I appreciate this with no end), and just having the security of knowing I'll get paid next week as well. Knowing we won't be completely broke for a week. Knowing that if the boys need money for a school event, we'll have it. Knowing that we won't have to ask for money from Dave's mum (she has been incredibly supportive over the years, we could never repay her financially or in any other way for her generosity). Knowing all these things bring such a sense of peace. It is something we have not had in the 20 years we've been together.

Work is going well. I did more 'work' type stuff this week. Had a meeting with two counterparts from other sites in Melbourne. Funny story, turns out one of them has a son who goes to the same high school as Erik and Lukas - talk about a small world! The meeting was awesome, just getting some idea of how the others have gone about things was very helpful. One of the others (the one with the son), only started her position three months ago, so we're both new, which is nice to know.

I also attended a professional development day on person centredness. The venue was AWESOME! The food was great, but even better was the cold store with fruit and cake which you could help yourself to any time. I will be signing up for all the courses. Okay, enough of that, it really is great how my workplace offers so many personal development courses. These will really help me build a skill set.

In other work news, I had a very affirming conversation with a colleague yesterday about the direction I want to take with my work. She was all, 'Yes! Thank God you're here. This is exactly what I've been wanting to do for ages!' and then we spent nearly an hour bouncing ideas off each other - it was great fun and I felt like I was in the right place at the right time.

So, yeah, I'm tired, but it's a really good kind of tired. It's the kind of tired where I feel like I've really achieved something worthwhile to me.

Good Job!