Archive for February, 2021|Monthly archive page

So Much Has Changed – Part 2

As I promised… I am not keeping you waiting another 5 years…

The reason I chose the newer house, over the Period House was that as much as I adored the Period House, there would be much more ongoing maintenance with that house, over the maintenance with the newer house. So I chose to buy the newer one. I haven’t regretted the decision.

I came up to Dubbo during the Christmas New Year close down at work. I came up on 2nd January for a couple of days, so I could actually see the house I had bought, in person and take a couple of measurements (check that my fridge would fit the alcove in the kitchen… how many powerpoints in the bedrooms… that sort of thing). It was really hot. It was still over 45C at 8pm at night.

We were able to coordinate the Settlement Dates for both houses to be the same date, 28th February 2020. In order to make things a bit simpler, I finished work on the Friday before Settlement Date, 21st February. Coincidentally, it was 3 years to the day since I had started at the job. This gave me the following week to finish decluttering and to be home when the movers came to pack everything for me. I picked up my rental car from Bayswater Car Rentals at Artarmon as usual on my way home. I arranged to return the car on 7th March 2020, the same day I would collect my brand new Corolla Sedan Hybrid.

On the Monday before Settlement Day, I took Hamish the Ragdoll to the vet at Stanmore to drop him off for boarding. This way he wasn’t in the house when lots of strange people were there, he wasn’t being stressed with things being removed or packed, and I didn’t have to worry about someone leaving the screen door open and him getting out. Hamish is an indoor cat only. He is not allowed out of the house unless in his carry box, or on a harness and leash. When some people from Church came to the house in January to help start the declutter process, despite my saying NOT to leave the screen door open, someone did exactly that. I hadn’t been able to grab the cat to put him in his carrier before they arrived. So when I realised that the door had been open for some time, I was very upset and worried that Hamish had gone out of the house. It took him over 3 hours after everyone had left before he came out from his hiding place, so no harm had been done. Except to my nerves. It also didn’t help that some of the things they threw out were NOT supposed to be thrown away. Like my mother’s large, wide, blue bakelite mixing bowl which I always used for my Christmas Puddings. It was nice and big, with a pouring lip, but it was also quite light and easy to maneuver. I was most upset that it was gone. Anyway, I decided to put Hamish into boarding at the start of that week. Then I would collect him after two weeks, after I returned to Sydney to drop off the rental car and pick up my new car.

On the Tuesday of my final week in the old house, I stripped the bed and did all my washing. I had booked into the Meriton Apartments in Mascot starting that night. I did this so that I would be able to wash everything and have only clean linen for the move. I was able to put the fresh clean linen on the bed for when the movers came to do the packing on the Wednesday. That way when they put the boxes into the Master Bedroom, I would have the sheets, quilt, towels etc that I would need for my first few days already there and available to make up the bed straight away. Plus, the room I had at the Meriton, also had a washer and dryer in the room, so I was able to do my washing and have clean clothing to take with me to Dubbo. I wouldn’t need to do washing for a while once I got there. I didn’t get to the room until about 10pm on the Tuesday night and I was exhausted. On the Wednesday, I got up and went back to the house to continue decluttering and let the movers know exactly what was to be packed and what to leave for the rubbish removal guy I had contacted. He cleaned out the rest of what was in the shed, as well as things from inside the house. I would get him back again on the Thursday to remove some more things as well.

I have to say I was not impressed with the people Allied Pickfords sent to pack my goods. One was nice, an islander. But his supervisor was not. He was nasty, rude. He said they couldn’t take any opened liquids, even if the bottle had been locked so it couldn’t accidentally spill. And they pack a couple of boxes of things I had specifically said were NOT to be packed because they were to be taken away by the rubbish remover. I found they had packed these things about 5 mins after they had packed them. But instead of pulling the things back out of the boxes they had just put them into, they shipped them to Dubbo and I had to remove them once I got here. They came back to finish the packing and then put everything into the truck. I noticed, just before they were to leave that they hadn’t put the wooden clothes airer that my father had made into the truck. It was still on the rear verandah. The rubbish guy took it out to get them to put it into the truck. It was only once I got to Dubbo and they unpacked the truck, that I found out that it wasn’t in the truck. I used the airer when I make my grandmother’s Christmas Puddings. The airer folds out into a sort of squared off U shape and I would place a couple of broomsticks across the top rail and then hang the boiled puddings from the broomsticks for at least a week to allow them to mature. Plus, it was something my father had made. I have to stress that the guys who delivered my goods to the new house on the 2nd March were lovely. They were not the same people as had done the packing the previous week. They were polite, they were good about placing the boxes into rooms if they were labeled (which a lot of them were not… yet another issue with the packing crew). I think it took them about two hours, max, to unload all the boxes and put what little furniture I had in the rooms I wanted them in. There were boxes everywhere. And they were two and three boxes high in placed.

On Friday the 28th February , I officially no longer owned the old house, and became the owner of the new house. I stayed in Sydney to finish the weekend. I drove up to Dubbo on the Sunday and checked into a nice motel not far from the house. I picked up the keys for the house on Monday 2nd March and went to buy a couple of things that I would need for cleaning etc. I had bright my Aussie Broadband modem with me from the old house. I had arranged for the internet to be switched over on the Friday. I plugged in the modem into the NBN box (which for some strange reason is in the Master Bedroom) and had internet access immediately. It was great. I stayed in the motel again on the Monday night and on Tuesday I checked out and went to the new house to await the removalists. I had bought a folding camp chair so I had something to sit on while I waited. As I said before the guys we lovely who came to deliver the goods and move everything into the house. As soon as the single bed was put into the Master, I was able to make the bed and put towels into the ensuite.

I had a couple of days in the house to start unpacking things and getting things a bit more organised. I was able to set up Hamish’s litter box for his arrival. And eventually that first night, I was able to find the rest of my AV equipment. I have a Foxtel iQ4 box, a Blu Ray player, a PVR and an Apple TV box. Unfortunately… the ‘packers’ had just unplugged everything and then dumped them all face forward in a pile into a box. The box was NOT labeled, so it took some searching to find which box had these goods inside. Then it took me at least 20mins to untangle the cables before I could take each device out of the box, one at a time. We were lucky that none of theme were damaged. Except for the Foxtel box, I was able to connect everything back up to the TV and watch some TV that night. The Foxtel box was a bit more difficult. For some reason the ports for the connection are NOT underneath where the TV sits (the previous owners had left the TV mounts on the wall). No… they are on the external wall of the room, and I needed longer cables in order to reach from the ports to where the box would sit under the TV. Sigh. I also arranged for some people to come to move the cabling for the internet. We couldn’t move the NBN box, but… we have now run an ethernet cable to a position in the hallway. There is a little hidden alcove in the hallway, just outside the loungeroom. I have put the old telephone table there (it fits perfectly in the space). The Internet modem now sits on this table, and we had ethernet cables run from there, through the walls, to where the TV is. So now the Foxtel box, the PVR and the Apple TV are all directly connected to the internet and not running on the WiFi. This is the same system as I had at the old house.

The weather was still quite warm in March. And this house is part electric and part gas. Because of the history of the area, when these houses were built most were build with large bottled gas tanks. However over time, natural gas has become available in the street. Because I had come from an all electric house, I had forgotten about the need for gas bottles. And my first few days I had no hot water or gas for cooking (I was using the microwave, so I hadn’t tried to use the stove). Luckily the weather was so warm, so I wasn’t really noticing that I had no hot water. I arranged to get one bottle of gas, and started the process to get the house connected to natural gas. It would take some months to make that change over, but the timing was perfect. I literally ran out of my bottled gas the day they connected the natural gas to the house… by which time the weather was not so warm and I needed to have hot water for showers. During the change over to natural gas, we also got rid of the very large hot water tank that sat at the side of the house. We now have instantaneous hot water, so we only heat what we use. Much more efficient. Appliances have been changed over to accommodate the natural gas (as opposed to the bottled or LPG gas previously used). I needed to replace the dishwasher because the one the builder had installed was faulty. The On/Off button didn’t connect properly and would not allow me to turn on the machine. I googled the brand (some brand I had never heard of before) and found that this button issue was a common problem, and that the customer care from the company was dreadful. So, bought myself a nice Boch one and had it installed and the old one removed. I will be doing the same thing with the wall oven because it is the ame strange brand and I have no idea how it works. My neighbour (who has the same appliances) says she is often burning food because she can’t work it either… and she has been in her house since it was built. I think I will get a Pyrolitic oven… much easier to clean.

I set myself a goal of unpacking at least two boxes (sometimes more if I was energetic) before I did anything else first thing in the morning. Not even breakfast or a shower. Boxes first. As well as the AV equipment being unlabled and poorly packed, I found some things had no packing paper around them at all, some items were just shoved in the boxes. They had shoved a large plastic litter box with handles into a box. Not only was the box now misshapen, but it had cracks along the bottom which rendered the whole thing useless. This was an expensive little box and had been hard to get. I took photographs of the damage and also mentioned other boxed with no packing paper which contained things like my father’s Carriage Clock (the ones with the glass dome over the clock) which he had received when he retired from work in 1985. This clock and its glass dome had been just shoved in a box with other goods and it was a total miracle that the glass dome had not been damaged. No thanks to the packers. Now, it’s not as if they had packed my goods out of some sense of pity or kindness. I PAID for this extra ‘service’. And this was how they had treated my goods. I sent the photos of the destroyed litter box and the issue with the poor packing and emailed it to Allied Pickfords that first night. I was told I would be contacted by a manager. Well… it has been almost a year and I haven’t heard a word from them since. Nothing. I don’t care any longer. But I will NOT be recommending Allied Pickfords to anyone else every again. NEVER.

On Friday 6th March I drove back down to Sydney in the afternoon and again booked in the Meriton in Mascot. On the Saturday morning I drove to Artarmon to return the rental car and then caught the bus from there straight to the car dealership in Waterloo to pick up my new car. I spent the rest of the weekend in Sydney, going shopping in places we don’t (or didn’t at the time) have in Dubbo. On Monday 9th March, I went to Stanmore and picked up Hamish to bring him to his new home. He meowed for over 3 hours, pretty much non stop. It was really annoying. But finally he settled down and went to sleep for the rest of the trip. A couple of days after we arrived home, everything shut down due to Covid-19. I had to arrange for my Ward Clerk back in Sydney to change my address on my Church records so that I could have the local contact information in my Church app.

Well, I think that’s enough for today. Still more to come…

So Much Has Changed – Part 1

I just looked, and it has been five years (and a bit) since I last posted anything in my blog. And so much has changed in that time.

I finally got another job in 2017 after almost three years of looking. It was a good job and I enjoyed it. Managing a membership database, keeping things up-to-date and as accurate as possible. Lots of spreadsheets to track what needed to be updated and so on. It was a small office of about 15 people at the most.

But things were not quite right. There were things that needed to be done to the house. Hamish had developed a habit of peeing right next to the litter box, instead of inside it. I just didn’t have the money for such things. I was getting older, and my weight had gone up. Hovering around where I was when I had my surgery in 2015. I was indulging in Real Estate Porn… where you look at houses for sale and think… ‘If I had the money, I would buy that one’ etc.

For a long time, I had been thinking about selling my house in Sydney and moving to a regional town. I had one in mind that I had visited a number of times. Not a giant town like Sydney, but with a daily train service to Sydney, an airport, major hospital, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) base, a branch of my Church, and even a local bus network for when I become too old and can no longer drive a car. And as an added bonus, parts of the town had Fibre to the Premises (FttP) National Broadband Network (NBN) connections. Parts of town had the lower standard Fibre to the Node (FttN) connection to the NBN, so I only looked at houses with FttP.

In July 2019 I was called to Jury Duty in the District Court. It was my first time being called. Ever. My father used to be called to serve, all the time, but my mother never was called. We had managed to get my call deferred once due to work, but they insisted the next time. I had been due to be called in May, for a possible 24 week trial, but it was cancelled the day beforehand and I remained on the list of potential jurors. In July, just before my time on the list was due to expire, I was notified to turn up for a possible 25 week trial… which would have put me right up to Christmas. When I reported in, they advised that instead of 25 weeks, would I be already with a 5-6 week trial. I said yes. I was eventually selected from the pool of available candidates on that day to serve on the trial. It lasted exactly 5 weeks. And no, I won’t discuss the trial at all. Except to say, my jury was a really good group of people. We all got on well together. The age ranges were pretty good. Another jury did not get on together, with the younger people disregarding what the oldest juror had to say… turned out she was right. But our group was good. Very friendly. I was chatting with one juror who worked not far from where I lived. We were both around the same age. He and I were talking and I told him about my thoughts on selling up and moving etc. He said that with the price I would get for my Sydney house, even in the condition it was in, I would be able to move, buy a new house – a better house, and still have enough money to live on until I reached Pension Age in a few years. Even if I spent $1,000 a week, I would still have money left over by the time I reached 67 when I qualified for the pension.

In October 2019 our office was moving to new premises. Close to Wynyard station in the Sydney CBD. I was taking two weeks of my annual leave around that time. I arranged to rent a car and go to the regional town and take a look at some of the houses that were for sale and which I had bookmarked as ‘possibilities’. I rented a Toyota Corolla Hybrid Hatchback from Bayswater Car Rentals. Their cars are all white, and all automatics, and I have never had an issue with cleanliness or with the condition of the cars I have rented from them. Plus, they have good pricing for their cars and don’t rip people off with outrageous fees. Additionally, one of their offices is located right next to the bus stop that would take me back to the office or to home when I returned the car. I wanted to see how the hybrid car did on a long journey. The regional town is 5.5-6 hours drive west of Sydney, over the Blue Mountains.

I have made the journey to this town before in a similar sized car and it has taken a full tank of petrol to make the trip. It took only a half tank in the hybrid. I stayed at a nice motel. On my first full day, I saw three houses. I was a bit disappointed with them and ruled them out of contention and took them off my bookmarks in the real estate app. I then drove to Coonabarabran to meet a friend for lunch. We had never met in person before, but we used to chat almost daily in my previous work and had become good friends. It was nice to finally meet her in person.

I checked out the town and surrounding areas for the next few days. Real Estate open houses are usually held only on Wednesdays and Saturdays and I needed to return to Sydney on the Saturday. So on the Saturday morning I packed the car and using the real estate app, had a plan to go and see 7-8 houses that morning before I started to drive back to Sydney. It only takes 15mins or so, even in peak hour, to drive from one side of town to the other. So even though some open house timeframes (30mins each) overlapped, I was still able to go and see all the houses I had on my list.

There was one lovely house that I adored. It was a turn of the 20th Century brick house. It was on a main road, but the way the road was constructed, with angled parking out front, and the house set back from the boundary and the hedge, it was very quiet. It was a 4 bedroom house with 12′ ceilings and picture rails on the walls (I love picture rails… no need to mark your walls with holes to hang pictures when you have a picture rail from which to hang things). There were polished wooden floorboards throughout the house. It had been extended at the back to allow for the renovation of the bathroom and the kitchen. The kitchen was large with lots of bench space. Out the back was a double lock up garage, and a double car port leading to the rear lane access. This house, which I called the ‘Period House’ was about two blocks from the train station, and there was a bus stop near by too. The last house I visited that Saturday was a new 4 bedroom house, with a single lock up garage on the other side of the river. It was nice, and it was a little cheaper than the Period House. Of all the houses I had looked at that day, I thought it was between the Period House and this last house. The estate agent for the last house mentioned that he had another house about to come on the market the following week, just around the corner and that he also lived in the area, so he could attest that it was a nice area of town to live in, not dangerous or prone to robbery etc.

I drove back to Sydney and resolved that the time was right to finally make the decision to sell my house, quit my job and move to this regional town. On the Monday, I contacted a real estate agent to come talk to me about selling my house. I had a value in mind due to the valuation given in the real estate app from low, mid and high value for the house. Well, they nearly fell over themselves. As I was driving back from the regional town to Sydney on Saturday, they had tried to sell a house in the street parallel to mine. It was a fully renovated 3 bedroom fibro cottage with everything done to it. Even the landscaping was done. They had 5 registered bidders for the auction with their money already organised for the sale. But literally at the last minute, the vendors decided they didn’t want to sell the house. It was so last minute, the agents still had to run the auction. So they put a reserve price of A$1.8million on the house. Now this is an area which when I grew up was very industrial. Factories, tanneries, freight forwarding etc. My father had built my 2-3 bedroom fibro cottage himself, taking 3 years on weekends to do it, for a cost of 3,000 pounds (with there was a proper pound currency option on this keyboard)… which works out to around A$99,000 in 2019. The auction got to A$1.793million, but the vendors still wouldn’t sell. So when I rang the following Monday, the agents couldn’t believe it.

So the agent came around that afternoon and we agreed to sell my house off market. This means it isn’t advertised. I didn’t need to declutter the house (after more than 60 years in the same house… there was a lot of stuff), I didn’t need to make it like a ‘show home’. Instead, the agent brought the people they had bidding on the house the previous weekend come around and they could bid on the house. They set a date and people had to email their best price to the agent by 4pm. Whoever had the highest bid, would buy the house. There was a 10% deposit and as it was under auction conditions, no cooling off period. I had been told what price range they were going to tell the potential buyers. It was higher than what I was going to aim for, but I was told that I wouldn’t get the top of the range they were asking. Well, when they phoned me at about 4:30pm three weeks after I contacted the agent about selling…. I got the top price of the range! It was more than $100,000 above what I had expected the house to get. We set a long 4 month Settlement period to allow me time to find a new house, and I was allowed to use the deposit (which I was could keep even if the buyers backed out of the sale) to place the deposit on my new house.

During this three week period, that other house the regional town agent told me about appeared on the real estate app. A 4 bedroom, two bathroom with a separate toilet to the main bathroom, rumpus room, double lock up garage, on a large block of land. The house was about 5-6 years old. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to the town before the Christmas/New Year break. So I employed a Buyers Agent from the next major town over to go view the house for me. He did a 360degree video and sent it to me. Then he prepared a written report and sent that to me too. He went into the history of the area where the house is located (which I already was aware of) and he compared the value of the house with three recent sales in the town and how this house compared to them. On the Friday after I had agreed to the sale of my house and signed to contracts with the buyers, he phoned in the morning to discuss the report and we agreed to go ahead. He negotiated the price with the sellers. By 12:30pm that Friday, I had agreed to buy the house. He also arranged the pest and building inspection for me. We negotiated between both my buyer and the seller of the new house to have both sales settle on the same date… 28 February 2020. My conveyancer arranged to transfer the payment to the conveyancer of my new house once the buyers had transferred the money to them.

I think this is enough for now. I will continue the catch up on what has been happening in my life in Part 2. And I won’t make you wait 5 years for it either. I promise.