As we rode in a taxi from the Adelaide airport to our new ‘home’ in Mawson Lakes, I looked out of the window wondering what Australia had in store for us.
When you move from India, one of the things you want is a nice house with a back yard, but as Andy looked for those houses in Mawson Lakes, we realised that could wait till we found jobs. Yup, we had no idea how long that would take.
The taxi pulls up at our apartment building – pretty neat location, in the middle of Mawson Lakes, with a Lebanese food joint in the same building, a pizza place and a dentist right across. The train and bus stations were 300m away, and Ethan’s school was roughly the same distance.
The first thing I notice is that the building feels safe with key codes to enter. When we reach the second floor, I notice all the doors look the same – I think back to apartments in India. Each house on a floor is likely to have a different door, all are of solid wood, some are beautifully carved, and each has a personality of its own. Oh, and how can you forget some houses that have shoe racks outside their doors!!! Glad I don’t see that here.
Funny story alert! My folks visited us later that year. My dad went exploring the building to see if we had a terrace. When he came back, he was laughing uncontrollably. Apparently, because all the doors looked the same, my dad went to the wrong apartment, opened the door (it was unlocked!) and walked in confidently only to see a frightened young man asking him who he was and what he was doing in his apartment. My dad apologised and walked out! We laughed for days, it’s one of those stories that we have to bring up every time we meet.
Our apartment had 2 bedrooms – there was space for two beds and a toy box. Our bedroom has a big glass door that opened into the balcony. The kids’ bedroom had no windows which meant no ventilation and natural light. That was one thing I didn’t like about the apartment. As we moved houses, I also noticed that despite some rooms having windows, they didn’t open. That’s an adjustment if you’ve always woken up each morning and opened the windows for fresh air. On the positive side, your house stays clean as there’s no dust coming in through the windows, and that’s really useful without Kanta Bai.
The closets had no shelves, just hanging space. We found out later that most houses have similar closets, with some having no closets at all. So, if you’re new to Australia and house hunting, don’t forget to check out the closets. We bought drawers from IKEA – not ideal but it suits us better than hanging everything.
Now this one was a beaut! Lots of storage space with a pantry cupboard but it had an electric stove – I can’t begin to tell you how many dishes have been ruined! Now, we look for houses that have gas stoves.
Our apartment had a lovely oven and I chatted with friend, Asha, who was in London and asked her if she’s gotten used to cooking food in an oven. In India, I’d pull my small oven out of my cupboard only to bake cakes.
Most kitchens have dishwashers – now, listen to me and try it out immediately. In the absence of Kanta Bai, this one is a life saver. It took me two years before I decided to give into it – I love it now! I’ve been told it also saves on electricity and water consumption.
Nice looking bathroom and toilet – but we had only one, and there were four of us. The bathroom had no window which meant you couldn’t air it out. The lack of ventilation meant that the bathroom was likely to have a mold build up every few weeks. The four of us managed quite well with one toilet, but when my folks came, we realised it was difficult and that led us to finding another house with two toilets – job or no job!
Huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!
The house are built differently here. The walls sound hollow when you knock on them. The houses are built with wooden frames that form the skeletal structure. The outside walls are then built around the frames. Your inner walls – the ones you touch and feel are Gypsum boards.
That’s where the three little pigs make their entrance. It may take one massive drunken brawl (or a big bad wolf) to smash through a wall.
Bad weather makes roofs fly off, houses catch fire all the time, possibly because of the increased flammable material as a result of the construction.
Get home and contents insurance – you’ll never know when you’ll need it.
The garbage system
When we left India, Benson Town, Cooke Town, Tannery Road, Cox Town had all become garbage dumps. It was disappointing with nothing being done about it. Our garbage boy used to initially pick up our garbage everyday, but he started coming every alternate day. He had repeatedly told us that the garbage trucks didn’t have any designated space to dump the garbage as previous areas were now shut down due to complaints from villagers in the area. This meant that garbage was being dumped on streets, right near houses and on the streets we used every day.
So when we moved here, it was good to know that every apartment empties their garbage either in a waste bin or a recycle bin that is made available for the entire building. Pick up is once a week and it has never not happened. If you live in an individual house, the council gives you two bins for your own use.
Breaking your lease
The apartment served us well but we moved out after 10 months. Moving out before the end of your lease (12 months) means that you will need to keep paying rent until the end of your lease OR until they find a new tenant, whichever is sooner. You’ll also have to pay advertisement costs. So think twice before breaking your lease. It’s an expensive affair.
I bet you’d never thought that there could be so many differences in housing in India and Australia. We’ve had some great memories in that house but I don’t think I’d go back to staying in an apartment.
Have a good week, peeps!