I must admit that our “48 pizzas” resolution has fallen by the wayside as we’ve embarked on a bit of a healthy lifestyle change but come May 23rd, we would be 24 Pizzas into our 4-year tenure.
Looking back, the decision to join the dark side was a fairly easy one for Nige. After years of dealing with domestic violence and/or alcohol and drug-related events, he was glad and even looking forward to moving on but for me, it wasn’t so easy. As much as I loved the bush, I balked at the length of tenure – a year and a half longer than the other two tenures.
Apart from those of the paranoid variety (Will I even be alive in 4 years?…… we’ve only just put in a pool….) there were the more serious questions like ‘How do we maintain 2 houses, more than 800 kilometres apart, for 4 years? Could the house even survive 4 years of constant holiday rentals….. with dogs?’ that kept me awake at night………. Yes, I know……..kind of First World problems!!
But for anyone considering a “special remote” transfer here’s what we’ve discovered.
Maintaining two houses is definitely do-able with the help of a crack team of two cleaners and one handyman, who all treat the house as they would their own plus a fabulous, creative roster clerk (aka Me). Trips back home are a mix of maintenance and gardening interspersed with a glass or three with friends and neighbours and we return to the bush exhausted but happy.
Plus of course, if you’re still paying off a home loan, you’ll definitely benefit from the extra rental income, which has led to a trade-off where I don’t have to work any more.
With fabulous cleaners, maintenance might involve one-off jobs like re-arranging kitchen drawers and cupboards (who goes on holidays to memorise where every plate, bowl and saucepan resides?) or digging up plants that have died or become too big for their surroundings. Last trip we removed a huge date palm that I’m pretty sure was advertised as something a lot smaller and less spiky when we bought it.
Living in the back country means that trips to the coast will usually result in the loss of lawns and plants that simply can’t survive the outback heat while we’re away. Then of course there’s the dust… No matter that we lock everything up like a fortress, it still manages to get in… on window sills, floors, carpets and tiles, benches and furniture, screaming “Welcome home!”
I said “usually” because our last trip saw us return to a quite different landscape with very green ‘lawns’ (and I use the word loosely) thanks to millions of weeds that had sprung up in the recent rains. Apparently the seeds can last up to 7 years and still germinate!
As for the holiday house, it would be naive not to expect that minor breakages will occur. I say minor because no one has yet flooded the house or set fire to anything. Still, lounges damaged by tiny sandy feet, tub chairs, beds and sun lounges (don’t rent during Schoolies’ week) have all ended up at the tip and part of our time is necessarily spent organising replacement furniture.
We’ve also discovered that some tenants find it more convenient to flip a bench cushion upside down (hiding the rather large chewed hole) rather than fess up to Fido’s lack of self-control when left alone in the backyard Bowie would definitely relate:
Of course, if tenants choose to hide things there’s really no way that cleaners will necessarily notice – like missing toys or board game pieces – and it’s almost impossible to say who did what. So we just accept that repairs and replacements go with the territory. Overall, we’ve been pretty lucky and the dearest repair last trip was to a dishwasher door latch, which unfortunately required that the whole control panel be replaced at $235. As I said…………….. no floods or fires.
Positive or Negative?
After weeks of drought and Level 4 water restrictions, we’ve been preparing to install a rain water tank (“we” meaning our handyman John – not his real name). It’s not just to keep the gardens and sub-floor plants alive but if I can talk Nigel into buying a dog bath, it will hopefully help to avoid furry feet depositing vast amounts of sand throughout the house. While we can’t expect tenants to disregard the “no hosing” restrictions, we also can’t expect cleaners to spend hours removing half a beach from the living room.
The cost of installation aside, I’m leaning towards calling this a positive…. Although it did start raining and water restrictions were relaxed pretty much as soon as we made the decision!
So in a few weeks, we’ll be returning to the coast to see the good work done by “John” the handyman in preparation for the arrival of our bright, shiny slimline water tank and our water and sand worries will be no more! What better way to celebrate Nigel’s birthday?
I’ll leave you with some updated photos of the Shack, taken by Martin von Stoll. Enjoy.