Friday, 20 March 2015

I'm Alive!

The Mad Mammy lives!  Cancel the obituary and  call off the remembrance services - I am still breathing.  My recent move was a close call and definitely caused me to lose whatever small amount of sanity I had left but I am still, in fact, alive.

picture of woman in pink top with question marks over her head looking stressed
The Mad Mammy Has Been Looking A
Lot Like This Lately

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since 9th January.  But then again, I can't believe it's now 20th March.  The lack of seasons here in Queensland means it is very difficult to gauge the passing of time, especially over a twelve month period.  Add in to the equation that the year here is completely topsy-turvy to a northern Hemispherean (that's a new word - like it?) and you can see why I don't know one end of my seasonal arse from my elbow.

The seasons in Queensland go something like this: sizzling, extremely hot, hot, warm and for about two days of the year, cool.  The vegetation stays pretty much the same and kangaroos don't migrate so there's no other hint that time is moving on.  My Australian friends all seem to have their markers but I'm just flapping about in the very warm wind but hey that's nothing new.


Picture of the devil pointing at Australia asking, "hot enough for ya?"
It Gets Kinda Warm Around Here


So here we are in Autumn.  I know, Northern Hemisphereans, it's spring where you are but as I just explained it's all the other way around down here.  The kids are back at  school for the past seven weeks, Easter Eggs are already on the shelves and mentally I'm just gearing up for Christmas.  I could ask what your New Year's resolutions are but you've all probably forgotten them by now.


Upside down photo of a sky and road with a caution sign for Australia
It's All Topsy-Turvy Down Here


On the good news front, we are ensconced in our new accommodations.  On the bad news front, I'm still surrounded by boxes and I'm not sure when there will be a change in that particular situation. You see here's the thing, being a mammy and doing all the mammy stuff is enough to be doing on any given day and if you're like me, you never get it all done anyway - there's always another piece of crap to pick up off the floor, another thing to put in the washing machine, another thing to take out of the washing machine, another bill to pay, more homework to do, another form to fill out, blah, blah freaking blah. So throw in a house move and it all goes completely astray.  Throw in a house move over Christmas and school holidays and you are looking at a complete disaster!

Then there's the fact that moving house in Australia is a more complicated affair than in most other countries, thereby taking up way more of your precious time and well, you can see why I haven't put a post together in months!

Looking for a place to live in Australia starts where most things do these days, on the internet.  The big website over here is www.realestate.com.au.  Oh I spent hours trawling through its pages back in December and January.  How thrilled the children were when they found me, yet again, desperately scrolling through page after page.  They were even more thrilled at being dragged off to viewings in the heat of a Brisbane summer!  They were  super thrilled the day it was thirty-eight degrees (over a hundred degrees fahrenheit for my American friends) and we had to wait an hour for the real estate agent to show.  Ah yes, the real estate agents, sometimes they showed, sometimes they didn't  - what a fun guessing game that turned out to be over our holidays.


Photo of Lease sign
To Lease Or Not To Lease - That Was The Question


Some of them didn't even show for the open houses they themselves had organised!  These open houses are where a house is open for a period of typically ten minutes, maybe fifteen if your lucky, whereby interested renters get to dash around the property and jostle each other out of the way in an effort to try and decide if the property is suitable for them.  If you're lucky, you might even get a chance to ask the agent pertinent questions regarding the property, that's if she or he isn't legging it out the door to the next viewing!

Should you be lucky enough to find a suitable property, well that's when the real fun begins. You need to fill out forms and make an application.  This involves providing references (from previous landlords) and payslips.  For the more popular properties you need to have this with you at the inspection and submit it straight away.  Should your application be successful you will be asked to provide a week's rent as a deposit and to secure the property.  NOTE: You have twenty-four hours to change your mind and back out of renting the property.  However, if you change your mind after the twenty-four hours then the deposit is forfeit.


Meme of cute looking kid with fist about writing the correct date on forms at the beginning of the year
There Was A Little Bit Of This

I should point out here that rents in Australia are exceptionally high!  So this means you could be forfeiting anything between $500 - $1000.

Anyhoo, let's say you are happy with your decision to take the aforementioned property, based on all of the ten minutes you had available to you.  You then will be required to sign a lease.  This is typically of 12 months duration.  On signing the lease you will be required to pay a rental bond, which is usually four times the weekly rent, plus two weeks rent in advance.  So on a seven hundred dollar a week property you will be expected to pay $4,200 on signing of the lease.  So don't come to Australia without plenty of cash in them there pockets!


Meme of Tom Cruise with words, "Show Me The Money!!!!"
Be Prepared To Flash The Cash


Possibly the most important issue to be aware of when renting property in Australia is the terms of your lease.  The most pertinent one being that if you "break lease" you are required to pay the rent on the property until such a time as the landlord has acquired a new tenant.  It is not like in other countries where you give a reasonable amount of notice (usually two months) and then you can move on without any negative comeback - oh no, here if you leave before the end of the lease then you pay until another tenant is found.

The second most important thing to be aware of during this whole process is something called the "entry condition report".

So there you are in your shiny (hopefully!) new abode and the lovely real estate agent hands you over the keys, various remotes and other bits and pieces to do with the house and an entry condition report. This is basically a detailed list pertaining to the house and the condition it is in at the time you sign the lease.  Like me, you might think to yourself, "oh aren't these Aussies a quirky little lot giving me a list of things such as 'picture hooks on wall' or 'crack under window.'"  And, like me, you might be told that this entry condition report isn't all that important, you basically just sign it if you're happy with the house.  WRONG!  After the lease itself, the entry condition report is the singular most important document in relation to the rental of the property as this document will be wielded as a weapon against you when it is time to leave the property - that's when you meet the nasty cousin - the exit condition report!  So basically if the entry condition report and the exit condition report don't match when you are leaving the property then you will be hit with the cost of bringing the property in line with what the entry condition report states it was in when you rented the property.  That is, if there are picture hooks on the wall that aren't mentioned in the entry condition report and you fail to note them, then you will be charged the cost of removing the picture hooks, repair to the wall and painting the wall, on exit.  So, when you rent a property in Australia, you need to see what's noted on the entry condition report and then FORENSICALLY go through the property to see what you need to add.  Starting to see how it all gets a tad time consuming?  Getting a feel for the nitty-gritties?


Photo of Horation Cane from CSI with the words, "this is going to get interesting"
You May Want To Get This Guy To Do
Your Entry Condition Report


The real fun starts when you are leaving a property and are handed the exit condition report and have to start haggling regarding items listed on this where the agent feels you need to carry out repairs or "return to original state".  If you don't do it or they are not satisfied with the manner in which you carried it out they charge the cost against your rental bond.  And they always seem to be employing the most expensive handymen and painter decorators in  town!  It took me ten days of relentless email ping-pong to get our rental bond returned.  Thankfully I had kept every email in relation to any issues to do with the property over the two and a half years we rented it.

The other painful aspect of leaving a property in Australia is what's referred to as the "Bond Clean". This is where the property has to be left in complete, utter and totally pristine condition, basically like you never lived there.  It is a condition of most rental agreements that you must employ a professional cleaning company to do this - receipt will be required.  In many cases the real estate company will insist you use a company nominated by them.  I know too many people who decided to either do the clean themselves or used a much cheaper company who then found the cost of the clean deducted from their bond because the real estate company "were not satisfied with the standard of the clean."  Bond cleans typically cost anything between $600 - $1000.  Yes, you read that right.

Photo of Man cleaning wall
Brett (aka Super-Cleaner!) from Brett's Total Home Care
doing the "Bond Clean"


If you have had a pet at the property you must also pay for the carpets to be cleaned throughout the property and a pest control treatment for the inside and exterior of the property.  Again, you hiring a rug-doctor and doing this yourself is unacceptable, you must employ a professional company to do this.

So, between searching for properties, viewing properties, dealing with exit condition reports, entry condition reports, packing and also organising services such as telecoms and electricity (more expense!) to be transferred and then ACTUALLY MOVING you can see how it all becomes a little overwhelming and time consuming.


Photo of items from a girl's bedroom
Just SOME of the stuff from
La-La's bedroom


Thankfully we are through it now and I have managed to retain a few scraps of sanity.  All I have to do now is catch up on all the things that were put on the back-burner over the past few months and figure out how those boxes are going to unpack themselves.....

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