You thought finding an apartment in NYC (well, no I’ve never had to, but I’ve heard nightmares) or LA was hard. Forget the hopeful hunt for a pet friendly place or reasonable lease terms… We just wanted a roof over our heads! And preferably before our first visitor arrives (can’t wait for Amy to get here)! Apparently finding the combination of a wheelchair accessible apartment (or house) close to an accessible tram stop with accessible trams in a desirable inner-city location was just as hard as it sounds like it would be. Melbourne is working hard on improving the accessibility of the public transit, but the city is still in transition so you can find stops that have been updated with platforms for access but not all of them will have low-floor trams (trams with no steps). We looked all over the inner suburbs… St. Kilda, funky style close to the beach; Albert Park, quiet, cute and quaint (reminded me of Pasadena if it were right on the coast); Fitzroy, trendy and has great cafes and nightlife; South Yarra, nice shopping and fancy cars (some might call it L.A.’s equivalent to Beverly Hills); and the CBD (the central business district, or downtown), close to Joe’s office but right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
We weren’t being picky, but the challenge here is that there are so many renters and few available properties. Jumping from suburb to suburb in hopes of finding “the one” was a great way to learn my way around the city! The pressure was on to find and move into a place to call home before getting kicked out of our company sponsored hotel (luckily the nice people at Joe’s company extended our stay for an extra four days until we got things sorted out). Some were great but totally not wheelchair friendly, others were wheelchair friendly but nowhere near an accessible tram or train stop, big fancy buildings with small apartments, or small buildings with dingy old apartments… you name it, I saw it! I wish I had a few words of wisdom for people looking to move to Melbourne, but apparently this is just one of those things that you put up with to live in a great city. The Domain website was a saving grace though… it has most all the property listings in the city and surrounding areas!
When you know, you know… we found a place! After finding an apartment you think you might like to live in, you have to apply, wait a week, and hope that the owner likes your application. We saw the place on a Thursday and wondered if we’d have to endure another Saturday of frantic 15-minute inspections. After applying, we heard from the real estate representative the next day who said that he still hadn’t heard from the owners and that we would likely not make our Tuesday move in day (the original day we were slated to check-out of the hotel). He said, “Things move slower here in the colonies.” Something that we’ve come to understand very quickly. He also gave us hope by saying, “Continue searching, but don’t sign anything unless you talk to me”. He couldn’t tell us that he thought our application would go through, or that he would put in a good word for us with the owners, but he made it as clear as possible that we should expect to be moving into the place soon enough.
What a sign of relief! Our application was accepted and we got the keys to our new city apartment (it only took 8 days from the time we saw it and applied to having the keys in hand)! And all we had do was sign four copies of a 50 page document with about 320 pictures (literally) of the pre-move-in state of the unit! They are not messing around here! With every initial and signature, I felt like I was signing my life away (reminiscent of our mortgage signing day).
This time the move isn’t so far… about 500 meters to be exact (yes, I’m making the switch over to metric… 0.31 miles for my standard system users) and it only took three trips down the hill from our hotel (home for 18 days) with a luggage cart full of our stuff to move into our new place.
Besides the interesting smells in the hallway and the chatter of business professionals outside my window enjoying happy hour drinks at one of the oldest pubs in Melbourne, the Mitre Tavern, the apartment is glorious! It is spacious and filled with light! I think it might actually be larger than the cute bungalow we left behind in Pasadena. The historic building, built in 1925 (coincidently the same year our house was built), was renovated 10 years ago into modern industrial apartments. The two bedroom, one bath, and tiny kitchen apartment will soon be home to many memories and design experiments. Can’t wait!
Here are some “before” pics of the empty space:
I’ll be furnishing and decorating in the weeks and months to come. I’m feeling a modern, vintage, industrial vibe in the space. It’s a blank canvas ready for some flair. Stay tuned for some “after” shots!