I started 2016 on the beach in New Zealand but the peace and happiness I returned with didn’t last long.
By October I realised something had to change. After having a good ponder I realised that there were areas of my life that I needed to change and improve.
I have started but it is not going well. I spent December looking for a house-share in a desperate bid for independence.
In my city, the average rental price has risen by 4% in five years. It has stayed expensive in my area, with the monthly cost adding up to a third of my salary. In comparison, house prices have risen by 7% in five years. Although this is a modest increase, I still could not afford to stay in the area if I bought a house on my own.
On two occasions I requested further viewings only for the house to get snapped up the same day. I realised I was going to have to change the game and go with my gut (and not just metaphorically, see below). I tried it today and got “OK, I have a few more viewings this week so I’ll let you know.”
I am new to the househunting game so I was stumped. Maybe I had said too much and she had decided we wouldn’t get on? I said I could be tidy but I wasn’t naturally. Was that the clincher? Did this mean she was politely telling me where to go? Did she need more time to make her mind up? Could it even mean that she liked me but didn’t want to let the other potential tenants down?
The place was perfect. Flowers decorated every surface and the lady, Olivia, had impeccable taste, with arty prints decorating the walls and vintage leather sofas. The place was spotless and homely.
She was also perfect. We liked all the same things and had identical schedules that somehow did not conflict with each other.
She even had the same personality. I didn’t think it was possible to find someone even more bubbly and excitable than me.
After a month of touring dismal dumps and meeting oddballs and eccentrics this was a breath of fresh air. Finally, somewhere I could call home if I’m lucky.
I told Olivia about my viewing experiences. There was a hovel with two young male tenants resembling hippies. The living room looked like it hadn’t changed from the 70s. There were grubby fabric settees and an old television on stilts. Smoking paraphernalia littered the table and street light filtered through the gaps in the blinds.
The kitchen was the only nice thing about the place. I was shown upstairs to a bedroom with such a sloping ceiling in that I couldn’t actually get to the bed. A naked light bulb blinked weakly through the gloom. I went upstairs hopeful for better things and was greeted with another severe sloping ceiling. This time I managed to get to the bed, sat down and nearly went right through it, the mattress was that old. Again it was lit with a single bulb. The only furnishings in both rooms were the threadbare curtains hanging limply across windows which were so tiny and so elevated that you couldn’t see what would have been a great view.
I thought I’d seen it all until they led me outside to the “garden” – a patch of grass with a massive black block of wood over it which they explained had been a door. The builders had ripped it out so the landlord said it was not her responsibility. It had been there for months. I tried to open the “shed” and a mountain of junk threatened to burst its way to freedom and join the door on the “lawn”.
If the house wasn’t ridiculous, the inhabitants were. I visited a property with a live-in landlord. I imagined that we’d have a good natter in the living room over a cup of tea, maybe cook dinner for each other, watch films together…I opened the door to a business-like lady in her 60s. She marched me up to the room which was lovely, so far so good. Then she took me downstairs and explained how I would be expected to stay in my room as the rest of the house was hers.
I asked whether I could possibly share the living room occasionally and she politely but firmly declined. She said I could cross her other living room to use the kitchen. She had forced herself to accept that her tenant would have to go through her living room to get through to the (thankfully shared) kitchen. Having proudly declared that the house was out of bounds she asked when I could move in. She hoped it could be soon because she needed the money. I politely but firmly declined the offer.
I want to move out because I don’t like living alone, it’s too quiet. I don’t like living with my parents either as I want more privacy and we don’t always get on. Currently I am getting comments about my accumulation of some winter insulation – I am 5 kilograms overweight, which brings me on to my next point.
I need to minimise my fat/sugar intake. I can no longer spend the day guzzling from the sweet tin at work. No more cheeseburger snacks either. I don’t burn any calories with my sedentary job so I need to ensure my intake matches that or do more exercise. I have a medicine ball in my room that I hardly use which will come in handy for toning up. It’s easy to be lazy but I plan to get more involved in the walking group at least and do the odd run. There’s nothing like running for cutting the kilos.
I will pass my driving test. Automatic lessons are great and I know it will happen if I just put my mind to it.
Lessons are hit and miss (literally if it wasn’t for dual controls) but I feel like I’m nearly at the end of the road. My general driving is usually good but my manoeuvres need some work. I feel like I cracked parallel parking today but unfortunately I was so elated after that I set off without looking. Thank goodness it was a quiet road.
Once I can drive I will be more independent and I won’t have to beg for lifts all the time.