Monday, January 24, 2011

Inspections, Push Bikes, Beaches, and Translations

Dean - Sydney Australia

Market Madness

So I thought that the housing market in Toronto was busy, Sydney is different story altogether. I have been looking for a rental unit non stop since I got here. So here is how the process goes, which is much different then back in Toronto. Most if not all people list units for rent through an agent, exactly as properties are sold back in Canada. There are a couple main real estate sites that cover rentals and sales that can be researched through online. I pour through pages of listings trying to find just the right place at (which is much harder) just the right price. After narrowing down to a handful, it is time to have a look at them. Here, most inspections (aka open houses) are held on Saturday, with a few during the week. Inspections are usually 15 minutes, yes, just 15 minutes long. Trivia fact, Sydney has almost 1,000 new immigrants arriving every week (crazy huh). So, if the place is any good at all, there is a mass of people at the inspection hurrying around the house, measuring, taking pictures, videos, you name it. Some fill out applications to rent right on the spot. Most properties that are any good will go after just one 15 minute inspection. Unbelievable...

Another rental difference from Canada, rents are listed per week not per month. This came as a bit of a shock when I did the math on the cost of these places. Last months rent is also called a bond here. Also, most places do not include a fridge or washer or dryer, you have to supply them yourself.

This past Saturday, I spent the morning in an area called Newtown looking at 6 different units. It is quite a process, pick them, hopefully the inspections don't overlap and hurry between them to inspect. I have just put in another application for lease, let's hope it works out this time. I am getting a bit frustrated with it all, and just want us to have a place to live. I am also a little worried I may be homeless soon. Running out of time as I am only booked into my hotel until the first week of February.

Push Bikes

On to the fun stuff. So the weather here has been non-stop perfection, snow and cold are a distant memory now :-) I was lucky enough to have a friend take me out on push bikes on Sunday ("bikes" here are motorcycles and "push bikes" are bicycles). Finally a chance to get a little outside the core of the city. We started our ride somewhat near Sydney Olympic Park and rode through some great nature areas and trails along mangroves. Sydney has done an incredible job of providing lot's of bike/walking trails especially along the water.

Beach Culture

I also spent some time out at Bondi Beach and Manly Beach which I finally really got into the water swimming. The surf here is incredibly strong and makes for awesome wave jumping. Surfing is definitely on the list for a future weekend! Here is a picture of Shelley Beach which is just down the trail from Manly Beach.

Now the cool thing about the beaches here are they seem to be a way of life. They are lively, well developed and very well maintained. This little beach had a cool beach bar just off to the side. Also, the city often provides BBQs free of charge, so people will bring coolers of food and beer.  It's hard to see in this pic, as I didn't want to look weird and walk up too close to take it. But there is a huge stainless steel BBQ, and a crowd of people BBQ'ing right by the beach. Having drinks, socializing, what a great tradition!

That brings up the topic of public alcohol consumption. I don't really understand the rules here yet. It seems quite like Europe where it is not a problem have a glass of wine or beer mostly anywhere, as in the BBQ example above. However, there are labelled "alcohol free zones" signed in some areas of the streets. I guess areas where they may have had trouble before. Funny thing, I was at a pub Friday night, there were about 40 people out front standing on the sidewalk drinking and up on the pole was one of the alcohol free zone signs. What's up with that?

Exit or the way out??

Over the past 2 weeks I have been noticing some differences in the english language here. So to add to the ones I have already listed, here are some more "translations" that I have learned this week.

How you goin'? = How are you doing?
Mate = friend (man or woman)
Sidewalk = foot path
Kerb = curb
Togs = swimwear
Prawn = shrimp
Continental cucumber = english cucumber
Toilet = bathroom
Gas = propane / natural gas
Petrol = gas

Until next week (mates)...

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