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Realty to Reality Translation Tool

Recently, caries I have been looking for a home to rent and I have learned two things. First, doctor the cost of life in one of Melbourne’s uglier suburbs far exceeds that in central Barcelona, ailment TriBeCa or, you know, basically any architectural landscape not dominated by chain restaurants and Bedding Superstores. Second, the writers of realty copy are the lowest little shitters to ever thump a keyboard.

Falsehood is one thing. Poorly written falsehood is another.

To get to the falsehoods, though, first you have to read the rubbish. Headlines for houses are the blankest art conceivable.

Period Features. Architect Designed. Cook’s Kitchen. These nonsense phrases are routinely used to convey the bleeding obvious and, naturally, they injure this pedant. But they are nothing as compared to the hyperbolic horse-shit crapped from the reeking demon-ass-minds of lowlife “professional” writers. A breed, by the way, that is paid far more regularly and handsomely than, say, I don’t know A FORTY-ONE YEAR OLD WRITER WHO HAS SWEATED BULLETS OF NERVOUS BLOOD FOR HER OP-ED THESE PAST TWENTY YEARS.


No. I’m not bitter about my lot. But, I suspect these soiled scribes are as there is no other way to explain the malice with which their stubby little fingers produce deluded descriptors like, “immaculate” when what they actually mean is, “someone recently wiped most of the rat shit from the oven. But, don’t worry. There’s a lovely little pile of it under the sink.”

Lies. Lies. Lies. One can decipher these untruths; after viewing 15-or-so properties and matching them against blurb, a pattern begins to emerge. The porkies, in other words, are consistent and can be undone.

Let me offer some basic translation.

I have found that “cosy” generally means “box with allergenic carpet and nosy arsehole neighbours”. “Older style” means “Only a junkie could fail to notice the poo smears on the flock wallpaper”. “Charm” or “quaint” are fairly interchangeable and translate as “former meth lab that will surely ebb your will to live.”

It’s all lies, out there and these annoy me deeply. But, more critically, it is the cost that upsets me.

I have been fairly lucky this past decade and have lived in, and loved, a rented house that cost around a third of my income. I tended its garden and painted its eaves until my landlord’s mind formed the words “subdivision”.

It wasn’t cheap, but it was manageable. We always found the rent on time and were fairly unruffled by the vanishing dream of home ownership. So long as we could always scrimp enough for a decent little place like this one with its fibro shed and gaping hole in the living room wall, we were okay.

Now, I don’t know. Now, any place that is neither structurally flawed nor reeks of quiet suicide will claim more than fifty per cent of our earnings and I just can’t get my head, nor spreadsheet, around it.

Now, I do not feel “entitled”. I do not suppose that I have “earned” a right to sanitary accommodations. But I do feel a burgeoning sense of anger, on behalf of everyone, of the cost of a simple effing home.

I acknowledge that these observations almost border on sin; offered as they are in a time of great homelessness. But, I suppose, this is, in part, my point. I’ve come to learn, much more keenly than I’d ever hoped, that housing is a real and growing problem.

So. Rotary-Hoe. I’m off to step over corpses, dream of unmarked porcelain and end up learning to live with the dull thud of regret. And, after I’ve done all of that, I may very well become one of the Housing Minister’s most ardent correspondents.

6 Responses to “Realty to Reality Translation Tool”

  1. YB says:

    The state of housing is a national disgrace. The wiser amongst Gen X (and all generations) knows that ‘the man’ has no clue, and never had one. While people are sheep, and still vote for the big two parties, it will never be fixed. There are cracks in the duopoly, but whether they will actually force their way into real change remains to be seen. The issue is infrastructure – private companies will not build it, and will not pay real rates to maintain it. They simply will not, and cannot. They will purchase, run down, and bail out until people demand better from government, and run out the liars who want it any other way.

  2. army dillo says:

    Yep, I agree YB – everything’s fucked. (sigh) Too bad we have more important things to take to the street about….like what some cop said once in Canada….

  3. kimba says:

    Travel north.. east or west.. and leave the high rents behind.. Life doesn’t stop at Craigieburn, Sunbury or Dandenong.

    Two years ago I decided I had done the city, done the share-house rental experience, done the real-estate agent’s spot checks, done the grimey unloveliness of always living close to a main road/next to a panel beater and a car yard/ two doors from a sawmill/behind a pub [although the pub WAS The Annandale..] done the temporary living on somebody else’s terms. 20 years – Sydney and Melbourne.
    I travelled 3 hours north – bought my own renovated cottage – and found that the mortgage is less than I’d be paying rent. I have a groovie job, some good new friends – and I see my city mates more now I have somewhere for them to come and chill out on weekends.

    My advice is ‘get out while you can’..

    • Helen Razer says:

      This is sound advice, Kimba and certainly something that must be considered. However, as it does for many, work weds me to the city. And, as it does for many, mobility plays a part. (I’m legally blind and, therefore, cannot drive) Life in a smaller town has much to recommend it but, damn, cities are handy what with their public transport and employment opportunities. I do appreciate the suggestion; however, I also wanted to point out that rural idyll is just not a possibility for many of us. And, more to the point, it’s increasingly expensive with Victoria’s rural median housing price up at around $300,000. Of course, this compares very favourably with the urban median. But, we do have to add a monumental chuck o’ change for transport costs. The fact is: our cities must become more livable. This includes our smaller cities and towns, of course where homelessness and unemployment are monumental problems. It’s all buggered, really, and I DO wish I’d followed that scholarly urban-planning impulse back when I was a kid. Although, I’d probably just do dumb shit like colour-coordinated lampposts.

  4. Georgina says:

    If it were feasible for more people to move to regional cities/towns, the revitalisation would alleviate the current problem of rural towns being too underpopulated to offer the employment/transport convenience that people migrate to cities for! In NSW I was suprised at how many public service operated “call centre” type departments, requiring white collar officer workers, were kept in Sydney (with it’s high cost of living) instead of being spread across the 10-15 regional cities that have critical populations and where living on a moderate office worker wage is affordable.

  5. Tom HB says:

    Rather than the outright lies they’re famous for, I’m more amused by agents’ often ridiculous attempts to bend the truth.

    Two classics from my recent house hunting:

    “Enjoys a northerly aspect at rear….”

    So pretty much, it has a southerly aspect then doesn’t it?

    “Freestanding on one side”

    So it’s not freestanding at all. You might as well describe a half burnt down house as “Thoroughly habitable in places”.

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