I’ve been quiet recently, but I’ve been absurdly busy -finally, we have moved in to our new house in Beechworth.
For a long time we had been planning to move out of Canberra when I retired, and shortly before Christmas we bought ourselves a new house in Beechworth in Victoria. The house is only new to us, in fact its core is a wooden miner’s cottage dating from sometime between 1900 and 1910.
Like all wooden houses, boards have been replaced, rooms relocated and so on, but the core of the house is still the original Federation cottage. For a long time I had fantasised about owning such a house and having a lemon tree in the back yard, and I now have both.
Of course buying a house left us with one to sell, and taking a long hard look at our Canberra house we realised it needed a few finishing touches, like new vinyl in the laundry and a new carpet in the bedroom, plus the garden needed a serious trim and tidy, all of which took longer than we hoped – we had hoped to have sold by Easter, but the house only listed the weekend after Easter.
Fortunately it sold after only a couple of weeks, so we made up some lost ground there even though the post sale dickering during the cooling off period dragged on a little.
And then we were done and had thirty days to hire a truck and move.
Now the removalists have rules about when they can take. They’ll take furniture, they’ll take household goods, even plants but they won’t take stuff like Judi’s paints and chemicals for her artworks, or the gas bottle for the barbecue, and they’ll tell you you’re better off moving things like computers and other domestic electronics yourself, so we ended up with a series of trips where we’d drive in convoy taking both cars, down to our new house, overnight and come back. Basically an 800km roundtrip. In between we became seriously adept with packing tape sealing up and packing boxes.
And then, the day before the removalists came, while we were taking the cat to the cat motel while we moved, our Subaru Forester stopped dead on an intersection and the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree – it turned out that the alternator had died and also fried the battery – fortunately nothing else had died.
I had to have the car towed to an NRMA service centre to be fixed, and that left us without a car as we’d stupidly left the old green car in Beechworth, so we ended up hiring a car, and ended up with a Corolla hatch.
Taking the positive view, having the car die in the city where there are tow trucks, garages and a choice of car hire options was a lot better than on the freeway out in the bugger all – the way it stopped dead could have been very dangerous – hopefully we’d have been able to coast into the breakdown lane.
The Corolla was a revelation – it was a 2016 model with all the toys – a reversing camera, six speed automatic transmission and ran the cheapest discount unleaded we could buy, and was miserly with it as well – driving it compared to our lumbering SUV was like fast forwarding twenty years – even if at times the automatic transmission sounded like a sexually frustrated washing machine – certainly something to give us food for thought as we were thinking about downsizing to single smaller car in a year or so once we were sorted.
And sorting is what we’ve been doing for the past three weeks – opening boxes, finding where to put things, screaming in frustration when we can’t but we now could say we’ve done most of it.
We had the foresight to buy a flat pack wardrobe from Ikea that once assembled should solve most of our storage problems, that and a couple of no name melamine pantry cupboards in the studio and we should be right for storage.
But unpacking isn’t all there is to moving, there’s the touchy little matter of settlement, when your buyers (or rather their mortgage company) pay you and you give them the title deeds which are of course held by your bank as security for your bridging loan.
In principle a simple exchange. In practice, a complete nightmare.
Our bank lost our documents. They store them in a secure storage facility somewhere, and when they are needed they get a courier company to retrieve them and take them to your local bank office to do the deed.
Well the papers were collected but didn’t arrive. Worse the courier company had lost sight of them, somehow they fell through the tracking system and it took a week to find them. It wasn’t just that they’d ended up in Broome (or wherever), but that no one knew where they’d gone.
Our buyers had of course got their own removalist booked and had given notice on their rented property so were effectively stuffed. They weren’t, we negotiated a deal where we let them move in as if they had taken possession, but that they would have to get out and pay us for any repairs required and forfeit their purchase deposit if for some reason the sale didn’t complete, but in the meantime they assumed responsibility for all the taxes and charges.
It took what was a fairly nerve wracking week for them to find the papers and complete settlement.
But it’s done now, we’re in. We still need to fight with the bank to recover the extra costs incurred due to their stuff up but everything is done.
All in all, moving interstate proved more difficult and stressful than moving half way round the world, but hopefully we won’t need to do it again.
But it’s not been all bad.
There’s been the simple pleasure of opening the back doors onto the deck on misty Sunday morning and hearing very English sounding church bells ringing through the mist, or late on a freezing night pulling off the freeway into Albury – our nearest approximation to a city – in the hope of finding somewhere still open to eat and finding a truly excellent (and genuine) Tandoori restaurant – complete with a gaggle of waiters standing around watching MTV India as things wound down.
And of course moving to an area which is kind of country brings some surprises. Of course the Albury hardware megastore has a range of shotgun safes in the home security section, just as the bike shop rents and services chain saws.
Different, but I think we’ll enjoy the change …