Dealing with the world of real estate is an inevitable part of being a uni student—you either deal with the world of real estate straight away, if you choose or have to live away from student accommodation, or when you are about to graduate when you don’t have a choice but to move away from accommodation (unless you choose to do postgraduate). I fell in the latter group.
Due to the fact that moving to Wollongong from Wagga Wagga to go to uni was my first move out of home and due to my limited finances, I had no choice but to move to and live at student accommodation. In all honesty, I am grateful that I didn’t have a choice. By living on student accommodation I wasn’t completely alone, it was an easier transition out of home, I didn’t have to pay extra bills, I made new friends, learnt how to live with other people and learnt about the world of renting. Not only did student accommodation enable an easier transition out of home, but also an easier transition into my own place.
I got my first full-time job in five years in September, knowing that my graduation was in December and that my contract at Marketview would end in November, I started looking for my own place as soon as I got my job. As much as I have loved living at accommodation, even though I’ve had my ups-and-downs with it, after almost five years, I was over it and more than happy to look for my own place. With my wages and my own personal preferences, I knew I wanted a unit between $200-$300 a week, one-to-two bedrooms, close to train stations and shops. Thanks to the internet, finding potential new homes to look at it was easy, however I had a lot to learn.
The first thing I learnt was that real estate agents are reluctant to show you places on weekends. Of course this doesn’t happen with all agents and agencies and I can understand that they need and want their weekends off too. However, as I explained to one agent in frustration, how am I suppose to find a home when I am not given the opportunity to look at one, especially when the thing that is providing me with money to pay rent is keeping me from looking ? The reluctance of these agents to provide me opportunities for inspections cost me a lot of units that I thought would be my first dream unit.
When I found units online that I wanted to check out and agents that would show me units on Saturdays, I started looking around. The first unit I looked at was a one-bedroom unit that didn’t have a kitchen—just a stove and two cupboards (one cupboard was blocked by the stove and the doors was off its hinges) in the corner of the lounge room. The bedroom was too small and the closet that went with the bedroom was too big, due to the fact that the unit’s hot water system was stored in there. However this wasn’t the worst of it—the bathroom was the best room in the place with the exception of the shower head. The shower head could not move or be moved up or down, when I stepped into the shower, I found that the shower head touched the top of my head—I’m five-and-a-half feet! I pointed this out to the agent and asked her how a six-foot man would be able to live and bathe here and she didn’t have an answer. Along with the lack of fence in the backyard, it didn’t take long for me to mentally say no to this unit. The agent who was with me asked me if I wanted to inspect two other units that were open that day in the same complex in the same street and I said yes.
These two units were at a complex called The Park Street Apartments. The Park Street Apartments had previously been motel apartments, I had stayed in one ground floor unit for one night when I enrolled at uni. The Park Street Apartments are beautiful, hence my interest and these two units were next to each other, one was one-bedroom, the other two-bedroom, however to my dismay these two units were on the third floor and there was no elevator. This meant that if there was a fire I would die—I would either burn to death or break my neck from jumping out the window in desperation. So I reluctantly had to say no to both units.
The fourth unit I looked at was the one I now live in—two bedrooms, ground floor, my own laundry, close to shops and transport and within my price range. It is a beautiful unit and as soon as I walked in, I immediately felt at home. I partly believe this is due to the fact that this unit looks similar to the house I grew up in.
While I enjoyed looking around, the real hard work and stress began with my rental application. My rental application involved providing my work history, two forms of ID, bank statements and fill out the rental application form. This doesn’t sound too hard in theory, but it is overwhelming the first time around. The hardest part was the stress of the fact that it is my first time renting and at the time I only had my job for a few weeks. However despite my lack of rental history, the owner and now my landlord accepted my application due to my honesty, my years at uni and job status. The best part of all is that I managed to get a two-year lease and the rent is fixed for those two years.
Signing the lease was nerve racking. The lease is full of legal and technical jargon that is hard to understand, which is why I asked the agent lots of questions. The agent also made a mistake and stated my lease was twelve months, which he fixed. I eventually signed the lease, got the keys and a condition report, which I had to bring back to the agent the following week. The condition report is a report that details the state of the unit from top to bottom, tenants have to tick boxes whether they agree or disagree with the report and make comments before they move in and before they move out. I also took photos to back up any notes I made, which I kept copies of and highly recommend. I also met my landlord, Anne that day.
The next step was having my electricity turned on, which was done the following Friday. I was worried about the access that the technicians had to the meters, but they had no problems and it was turned on. I found out not long after that, that since Anne pays for the water and I have no gas, the electricity bill is the only bill I have to worry about. My parents came up that same week, bought some furniture and other items for me. I moved everything out of my accommodation to my unit over a period of three weeks. Once that was done, I started living there and have never looked back.
I was so scared of renting throughout my years of uni, I actually wanted to in my fourth year of uni, but I wasn’t ready. Although it was a long wait, it was worth it. I rented when I was ready and ended up with the home I was meant for.
RELATIONSHIPS (AND DATING)
It surprises me that it has taken this long to talk about one not-essential but definitely inevitable part of uni life—relationships and dating.
Everyone has different relationship and dating preferences—some like to have relationships and are trying to find “The One”, some like to date for the sake of dating, some like companionship and others just like casual sex. I fall into the first group, a large number of uni students I have come to know over the years fall into the last group, while the majority fall into all the groups at one time or another.
Uni is the ultimate dating hunting ground, that sounds almost psychotic and scary, but it’s true. For many uni students, especially first years, it’s their first experience into the relationship and dating world. If you live on accommodation, relationships and dating are a risky area—it’s convenient, easy to meet people, however if doesn’t work out you can’t avoid them and if you date someone else at accommodation, it’s super awkward. Nevertheless it hasn’t stopped some of the students, Campus East is known for its STD outbreaks at the start of the uni year.
Over the years, there have been plenty of good-looking guys that have caught my eye, including one of my room mates in my first year, but I’m not a casual dater, in fact I probably take dating a little too seriously. My personal preference is online dating, which I have done on-and-off since my first year as I don’t like nightclubs or being around drunks and it’s easier to get to know guys on there. Yes there are obviously scammers out there, however they are in the minority, in my experience most guys are on there because they dislike the nightclub scene as much as I do.
I didn’t really have much success with online dating until my fourth year of uni—I spoke to a few guys but it never eventuated into meeting in person. However I did have success with one man, Patrick who I ended up having a relationship with for six months.
My advice to anyone trying online dating is to choose a username that is nowhere near your real name and to trust your instincts. If you feel the need to block someone or don’t want to talk to them—don’t and if they won’t be gracious or won’t take no for an answer block them and/or report them to the site’s administrators. Also if you do choose to meet in person, make sure it’s at a public place and you get to and from there on your own. While to those who prefer casual sex, my advice is the basics and obvious—always have contraception on you, you can’t always rely on the other person. If you need emergency contraception, go to the chemist for the morning-after-pill ASAP, while not all pharmacists are judgemental, be prepared for those who can’t separate their personal beliefs from professional ethics.
While relationships and dating can be complicated and filled with grey areas, remember to relax and have fun.