Archive for January, 2007


The Joys of Flat Hunting in Sydney

Flat hunting

So the time has come to move on, the flat I’ve got is very nice inside, but I’m just over the noise in the area, here are some highlights from the last few weeks/months:

  • Rubbish collections pretty much every day from as early as 5.30am
  • 25 minutes of smashing glass on a Sunday morning at 6.30am from a glass collection down the road
  • Two construction sites in the same street starting from 7am 6 days a week
  • Re-roofing directly above my bedroom at 7.30 on a Saturday
  • Drunk eediots losing all sense of internal volume at any hour of the evening/morning
  • Regular fire alarms from the apartment block down the lane
  • Downstairs neighbours with bongos and the complete inability to hold conversations at normal volume
  • Restaurant a few doors down deciding to turn itself into a impromptu nightclub with associated thumping bass toons
  • Street used as a car park for western suburb wog blowing in on a Friday and Saturday night (only Aussies will get that one)
  • Piercing continuous tone sprinkler alarm from the rear of a nearby nightclub, think tinnitus

Now of course I know that I could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire and that you can’t guarantee peace and quiet if you’re gonna live near the city. However there are certainly some things that I can get off the list by moving to an area with no/less restaurants and bars, and further away from the ‘entertainment hub’ of Oxford St. Yeah it was all good being close to the action when I first got here but now I’m over it.

I’m not exactly planning on moving miles away, in fact it would be ideal to stay in Surry Hills but to just move to the quieter bits. Having the scooter makes life a little easier as I can get around and not have to worry about buses, so I could move further away but I’d still rather be able to stumble home after a night out rather than relying on Sydney taxis.

Deciding to move is the easy part, then you’ve got the hideous nightmare that is flat-hunting in Sydney. I’m not actually in any hurry and the original plan was to move after Mardi Gras as Jan is probably the most popular month. But I’m keeping my eyes peeled online now and visiting the ones that have potential…..and there in lies the most difficult.

There’s no simple call the Estate Agent and arrange a time to go look at the property yourself type thing over here….oh no! Over here you have the joys of open inspections where the property is open for 15 mins for you to go have a look, and it’s not just you, it’s every bloody flat hunter in Sydney. If the Real Estate (that’s Aussie for Estate Agent) are particularly generous they’ll hold it on a Saturday when most normal people are free, if not it’ll be during office hours when only unemployed people can go and they can’t afford the bloody apartments anyway! If you’re even luckier the property will be open for a whole 30 minutes, if you’re not you’ll get 10!

So for instance last Saturday off I trotted to a one bed apartment on Stanley St in East Sydney. As I approached the building there stood a crowd of about 20 people. By the time the doors had opened more had arrived, then you have the scramble to get in first so you can see what it actually looks like swiftly followed by what looks like a house party which has been massively gatecrashed.

Now if you’re looking at a few that day you could find yourself racing from the 10 minute viewing at 9.40am in Surry Hills to the 15 minute viewing at 10am in Darlinghurst, to the 30 minute viewing in Kings Cross at 10.20, etc, etc, etc…..if you’re really unlucky the 2 places you really like the look of will be showing at exactly the same time or too close for you to be able to see both….which one shall I choose, which one????!?!?!

The papers are also cheerily running stories about a renting crisis in Sydney, rents due to rise by 20%, landlords getting greedy…etc. So it’s a total lottery, I may well find the place of my dreams but then I’ll probably be against god knows how many others all wanting it, so there’s no negotiation on the rent, it’s full whack or nothing, in fact some people even offer more to guarantee the place….madness!

So wish me luck, so far this Saturday I’ve got 3 to look at and if you’re interested in what apartments are like in Sydney these are they: Zetland, Surry Hills, Surry Hills again but it’s supposed to be a gorgeous day so I might have to drop some for the beach, it’s all about priorities…..




At last I no longer have to rely on public transport to get around, no longer do I have to mingle with poor people, listen to some bint have a loud conversation on her mobile about the fabulous dinner parties she goes to and how incredibly popular she is; "I just can’t decide which one to go to"….I’m finally mobile! It’s got two less wheels than I’d like but frankly owning a car when you live so close to the city would be stupid and expensive, so a scooter it is then.

His name is Monty, he’s 10 days old and he’s ‘Pale Mint Silver’, formally he’s known as a Vmoto Montego 125cc. Now you can’t just go buy a scooter over here, they’ve got a similar thing in place like the UK where you now have to be separately licenced to ride a motorbike/scooter. In the olden days when I was young(er) you didn’t need all that palaver so I happily rode a hand-me-down scooter when I was 16/17 but never actually got a proper licence when all the laws changed.

Step one was to get a NSW Drivers Licence, you can’t hold licences from more than one country so to get the bike licence I had to get ride of the UK licence, well not get rid of coz if I go back to the UK I’ve still got it. Next step was to arrange to go on the ‘Pre-Learner’ which is a two day 4 hour course to teach you the basics of using a bike. The slight hurdle here was actually getting on it, bike/scooter use is going bonkers in Sydney coz the traffics a nightmare and the public transport is crap. So there was a roughly 3 month waiting list, think I phoned in September to get a Jan booking! This I took on a manual, first time I’d every ridden a manual bike and I didn’t fall off, crash or anything…..I did, however, stall a few times. Once you’ve passed the two dayer you have to take a ‘Driver Knowledge Test’ which is just a multiple choice test taken at the local RTA (NSW equivalent of the DVLA) office.

So on the weekend of the 5th and 6th Jan I took the Pre-Leaner, passing with honours…..well actually there’s no honours but there should be. On the 8th I took the DKT….again gliding through it easily, and that was it, licence done and dusted. Of course it’s not quite that simple…..after 3 months but before 6 I have to do the ‘Pre-Provisional’ training and take the ‘Motorcycle Operator Skills Test’. If you’re under 30 you go on to a provisional licence but because I’m over 30, experienced and wise I go straight on to a full licence….yay!

I shall be ensuring that Monty doesn’t turn me into a lazy fat bastard though, I’ll still be walking to work when it’s not too hot, the main aim will be to use it to get to places where I’d normally use a bus and to explore the bits of Sydney which are just too hard to get to if you don’t have your own wheels.

Right I’m off to go see if they local Hell’s Angels will let me join up…..laters!

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