Here I am, house-hunting again. But this time it’s in Sydney
Dazzling view: In Sydney the sunshine is plentiful and free but house prices are eye-watering, gasp-inducing, astronomical – and increasing.
I’m house-hunting again. That’s not a sentence I thought I’d write any time soon, particularly not as the last time I was house-hunting was in 2007. And we all know how that ended.
We found a house we liked and could kind of afford, and moved in mere minutes before our second child was born in early 2008, which is roughly the same time Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life and Permanent were embarking on what they charmingly called their “rinky dinky”.
It was all as easy and straightforward as setting fire to piles of nice, crisp €500 notes. Since then, we have spent a lot of time saying things to each like, “But it only matters if we want to move”, and, “A home is not an investment anyway”.
Yet here I am, six years on, house-
hunting again. In many ways, it’s a totally different experience this time, not least because I’m doing it on my laptop and in a series of anxious, late-night conversations with my husband, whose voice is surprisingly clear for someone on the other side of the world, where he is presumably drowning in a pile of brochures.
The reason I have had to relinquish control of the search to him is that this time, we are house-hunting in Sydney, where he will be working for the next 10 months. In a few weeks, we’ll pack up a few suitcases, hand the keys of our house to a relative who has kindly agreed to look after it for us, and get on a plane to a country I’ve never visited.
But for all the differences this time around, there are some things that are alarmingly familiar.
First, there are the eye-watering, gasp-inducing, astronomical prices. Let me say at the outset that I’m not particularly fussy. I reckon we’ll be spending so much time outside, it won’t matter much what the inside looks like. I don’t need sea views or a swimming pool, or any of the other features apparently prized by Sydney estate agents. I’m pretty sure a “rumpus room” is not on my list of requirements, since I’ve no idea what one is. By rights, finding a place to call our (temporary) own should be the easy part of the move. Instead, it’s like we fell asleep and woke up back in 2006.
In one north Sydney suburb where we would like to live – it’s close to my brother but not too far from the city centre, where my husband will be working – rental prices for a three-bedroom family home start at A$995 (€700) and rise to A$12,000. That’s per week – and no, they don’t come with their own staff, hovercraft or lifetime supply of champagne, strawberries and foot rubs.
Most of them don’t even have furniture.
There are places where prices are slightly less eye-watering. In Parramatta, which was recently named Sydney’s most affordable suburb, three-bedroom places cost between A$400 and A$600 per week. In Bondi, you would pay between A$900 and A $1,200 per week.