Sydney House Hunting

IMG_3953Well…never a dull moment.  A big day today.  Did our first grocery shop – super easy.  Much easier than I recall the last time we lived in Sydney, when you had to run hither and yon and then schlepp it all home.  Met with the rental agent for the first time after months of email correspondence.  She is way more beautiful then on TV (we found her by watching House Hunters International) and has great energy!   When we saw her on HHI, her energy came through – positive, upbeat and a bit quirky, funky style.  I was not disappointed when I saw her in person.  I wore jeans, boots and one of my sanscrit gauze hippie tops.  Hello!  She came up wearing jeans, boots and a hippie top.  Felt meant to be!

First we saw a house in Paddington that we’d seen online and frankly, assumed would have been snatched up long before our arrival.  Available to see, so 464 Glenmore Road was our first port of call on the official house hunting tour.  And as our rental agent had advised us when we were still in L.A., what you see online may not even remotely resemble what you see in person.  This was indeed the case with Glenmore Road.  Ended up being a big boo hiss.  Teeny tiny little terraced house with such steep stairs that tumbles would be inevitable.  Hardly the sort of place for big people like us!  Or a squatty little dog with 4 inch legs.  No no!

13 Caledonia Street view

Front porch

Second house we went to as a lark.  I was, of course, familiar with the house and had seen that morning there would be an  inspection at noon.  I thought it would be fun to check it out.  From what I could make out from the photos online, it was an old sandstone cottage, likely built around the 1850s – 1860s.  All stone inside.  Think small.  Think dark.  Think cave like.   Think…Flintstones.  Front porch something out of Appalachia.  All it needed was a rocking chair and a still.  Yet – the pictures showed a beautiful backyard with a pool!  Something that you just don’t find in the middle of the city.  So, seeing that it was open for inspection, we headed over for the giggle.


Lounge from front door




Lounge from kitchen looking to front door


Master with balcony overlooking pool

It was love at first sight.  Charm bursting out of its tiny little windows and doors.  Much bigger than expected, but you would never know from the front.  Anyone with any decorating vision would salivate over the potential of this little diamond in the rough.  Situated on possibly the tiniest little street (more an alley) called Caledonia.  Original, original, original.  Great area in Paddington.  Front porch adorable – needs a couple ficus trees to give it some punch.  Open front door, enter main lounge area.  Sandstone walls – thankfully, nails to hang things.  Not a huge room, but not small – especially for Paddington.  Walk thru main room into kitchen, funky and wood with stainless oven, dishwasher, fridge and stove.  Room for farm table and then beyond kitchen, bi-fold doors that open all the way to reveal a killer – killer – backyard.  Spacious.  Tall walls for privacy.  Mature trees.  And a beautiful saltwater pool.  A pool in Paddington!  And a good pool, at that!  Mind boggling and such a good vibe out there.

Back inside, another front room, which we’d use as a guest room.  Small nook under the stairs with fireplace for reading a book or watching tv.  Upstairs lit like heaven!  Skylights grabbing all of the north western aspect.  So…where potentially colder on bottom level with all the stone (there are 2 working fireplaces!), super warm upstairs.  4 bedrooms – all compact.  Different quirky levels.  Master with balcony overlooking this beautiful backyard.  Feels sooo serene.  You would never know to look at the house from the street that this oasis existed.

Stu initially so-so about it.  I think reminds him too much of dreary and cold English cottages.  Me – I can see the potential a mile away.  To have an authentic 1860s sandstone house would be quite something.  And one with a pool and great backyard?  Please!  Sold!

Our rental agent, engaged to be the voice of reason, of course pointed out the flaws.  Storage.  Feels a bit confining downstairs with the stone work.  Hot upstairs (but A/C).  But she didn’t have much of an argument.  The price is the best part.  We could negotiate this to a reasonable rate which would allow us to have a great apt overlooking the ocean in Surfers Paradise, which is the budding metropolis adjacent to where Stu hopes to be working!  So…the best of both worlds.

The rental market in Sydney is white hot, with 40 couples lined up behind you to snap something up if you don’t.  You have to strike while the iron is hot.  A challenge for someone like me, who can’t make a decision quickly if my life depended on it – especially a big decision like a home!  Our rental agent suggested we see another Paddington property for comparison.  Did that the very next day.  Very large and very boring.  We completed the application for 13 Caledonia that afternoon, providing all kinds of forms of income, bank account balances, character references – even dog references (which I wrote myself).  Got the call the next day – we were IN.

Went back to look at it yesterday, seriously hoping we didn’t make a huge mistake.  In fact, couldn’t be more opposite.  Fell hopelessly in love with the house.  Much bigger than we remembered.  Seems as if custom made for our furniture.  Met the neighbors, as well, who could not have been nicer and already feel a camaraderie.  They spoke of banning together and parking on the little tiny street the night before the movers come to ensure there’s space for the moving truck.  Nearly shed a tear, so thoughtful.  I need my neighbors!  I need people!

D-Day is September 16.  Of course, we won’t have furniture till the 21st, so we’re back to glamping again, which suits us just fine.  Dogs arrive the 27th, so the end of this month is going to be key key key for us.  And of course, I can already envision the parties and the kids’ rooms and the comfy cushions in front of the fireplaces where the dogs will undoubtedly sleep for hours on end.

So – we got our quirky little home and NO SNAKES!

After finding our little Caledonia cottage, we shot out to Eastern Creek to visit the dogs in quarantine.  But this time, we had gifts.  New beds.  Cuddle toys.  A tennis ball and treats.  Relieved to see them much more engaged.   Indi did her dinosaur welcome for about 10 minutes straight, falling all over me (and Ray).  So much better from last week.  More energy.  Clearly, Horatio has bonded with Michelle, the ward of cellblock 5.  She is so good and kind and takes extra special care of our dogs.  Tomorrow I will write a note to AQIS (Quarantine Station) praising her.  I have no shame about flattering for better treatment for my dogs for the next 3 weeks.  I drove to the quarantine station this time and have gotten right back to right-hand drive.  Love it – easy as pie.  Somehow more natural.  No idea why.


Indi with her bunny


With their new check beds


Getting love from dad


Ray giving the guilt look


Greeting the next door neighbor


Dad loves


Sitting for a treat


They love Sue!


After quarantine, drove back into the city and met Craig for a late lunch at our new favorite haunt,  The Beresford Hotel.  Then walked home through Paddington in the warm spring night.


The Beresford beer garden


Perfect meal – nibblies & wine


Stu relaxing


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