I lied to my friend today. Jules, did too. We looked at one another as we told the lie one after the other like children doling out sweets.
One for you
One for me
One lie from me
One lie from Jules.
Jules and I are not by nature of the lying kind, but today we lied out of a need to protect our friend.
Mara moved out of her home yesterday. She’s lived there for five years. It is a lovely house – very warm and welcoming. She had to sell it due to her husband losing his job and not being able to find another one for over a year. She had to sell it because the pressure of paying the huge mortgage by herself led her to collapse one day at work from stress and fatigue.
Mara has moved into a rented house. She is navigating her way around it with a slightly downcast air. Most rental properties in this part of Sydney are not terribly plush. They are old Victorian houses with landlords who in some cases are probably just as old (*smirk*) and gave up caring about the aesthetics of their property long ago.
Just pay the rent and shut up. Be grateful you beat the rest of the unfortunates to this outstanding property, they say. Outstanding, my Aunt Frida. The only WOW factor in most of the rented properties I’ve seen is that none of the taps drip. That is important, believe me.
When your washer needs changing it can actually cause danger to life and limb. Plumbers sent by the rental agent have a habit of not telling you they’re coming beforehand. They turn off the water before they even knock on the door which is particularly dangerous when you end up with half a litre of shampoo on your hair because you bought one of those stupid squeeze bottles and no matter how hard you try the bloomin’ shampoo won’t come out so you squeeze and squeeze until SLPURGTHROOEY – most of the shampoo is on your head. And you have no means of washing it off because Gazza has come to change the washers.
Australian plumbers are irritatingly guilty of stating the obvious. Gazza the plumber upon seeing me with a mound of intensely nourishing, revitalising shampoo in my hair will more than likely say : ‘You’ll be wanting to wash that out.’
Or if he’s feeling cheeky : “Nice towel.’
Meanwhile, the shampoo is getting warm from the heat of my head and is changing consistency, oozing into my ears where the zesty citrus concentrate designed to energise my hair from root to tip is causing an odious ringing sound. Try as I might I cannot stop it from sliding into my eyes. It burns. I get red rings around my eyes that are itchy and flaky. They stay there all week. People whisper behind their hands.
See how I did that? I totally went off the point so I could distract you from the fact that I lied today. But I realise there’s no getting away from why I lied now. Nor why Jules joined me.
I have rented for the past 7 years. Before that I owned my house for ten years. Jules has rented for three years. Both of us know how hard it is to crack the Sydney property market. Once you’re out it’s very hard to get back in. There are lots of reasons for this.
Selling your house due to financial hardship actually changes your perception of what’s important. You don’t chase the dollar as much as you used to. You literally take a step back. In doing so you accept that your salary may drop. It doesn’t bother you as much as you might think. But because your salary has dropped you can’t get a loan as easily as you could in the past, nor can you save the minimum of one hundred thousand dollars most people need for a deposit on an average house in Sydney.
Most of the people I know who have sold their homes have done so because one or both of the mortgage holders was ill. Or disenchanted. Or needed a change from the corporate grind. That kind of stress takes time to recover from and when you do recover you are not so keen to get back on that mortgage merry-go-round.
Mara asked us today if we thought she would be able to buy another house in two years as she is planning to do. In this part of Sydney. We are aware of the small amount of money she has left after clearing her debts and setting money aside to live on. We know she will change her attitude to home ownership after six months, one year. We know the price of property will continue to rise. We know she may never have the money to buy a house again. So we lied.
Of course you will, we said. There is nothing surer. Two years from now you will be sitting in your new house thinking that everything has turned out for the best.
I hope Mara recovers from the stress she has been under. I hope she is able to bear the patronising attitude of acquaintances who learn she is now a humble renter. But most of all I hope that the lie Jules and I told today turns out to be the truth.