Making It real
My story in attempting to bring a new housing type that improves affordability, livability & community resilience
Knowing that I wanted a house project that would have an impact beyond its boundaries, I embarked on exploring the property market of my neighborhood of choice, Northcote. I should also state that my journey to concluding Northcote was to be my home is not common to many. To get here, I lived within 13 suburbs of Melbourne exploring every point on the compass. From Vermont to Yarraville, Carlton and St Kilda, I covered a fair bit of ground whilst coming familiar with the different cultures that made each of these suburbs unique. Yet with Northcote, it took just 5 minutes one sunny Autumn’s Saturday afternoon whilst sitting in the front bar of the Wesley Anne that determined my fate. As I listened to the live stringed band in the sunlight with a beer in hand, I felt a general calmness that reverberated from within and outside the establishment that made me feel at home. That feeling was what gave me the fuel to pound the streets back in 2008 as I raced from opening to opening in search of my own slice of heaven. It wasn’t long before my excitement quickly turned into frustration, exhaustion, and utter despair.
At that time, the market was hot and real estate agents didn’t care if you were Arthur or Martha. Any house would sell and all they had to do was wear a nice tie, drive a fresh sports BMW and show up. I started daydreaming that when they would go back into their cars, golden hay would simply spew out onto the road as they opened their car doors. Not unlike what happens to many, my expectations dropped and I started looking further afield where prices seemed more acceptable. Even though at this time I was looking on my own, I was in conversation with many friends who were also going through the same process, yet they had different needs for a house. They were either on the cusp of starting a new family or needing a place to house a growing one. On top of this, it was becoming evident that the inner-north was going through a gentrification process as many of the original inhabitants were aging and could no longer take care of their dilapidated homes that were also not suitable for their aging needs. Even though this presented an opportunity for others, it made me wonder where these long-established community members were going, where their families were and whether we were building or renovating homes that in the future would prevent this from happening again.
There are challenges in all stages of our lives yet it's not hard to just focus on those that affect us now whilst delaying confronting others that we will inevitably face. As I knew there were housing affordability issues on the horizon, I was convinced an approach to buying a house needed to have more emphasis on the full gambit of life expenses that are not often considered when we first look at buying a house. And it was these expenses I thought I needed to better understood before determining what my future house would need to resolve.
My next entry will focus on these indirect and direct cost of living and how a house, through design, might be able to address these.
A property expert with over 25 years experience working across both private and public sectors, predominately within the housing space.