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Wednesday, March 18, 2009


We received a letter from the Housing Department. We have been on a waiting list for low-cost housing for years. Last we heard, we still had a ten-year wait ahead of us. But now that Andrew has turned 80, we are given priority. They can’t say exactly when an offer will happen. The man I spoke to last night said, ‘We don’t know if we’ll get a vacancy in the next three months.’ The woman I spoke to today said cautiously that we’re well ahead in the running and will probably get an offer within 12 months.

This would be wonderful news if we hadn’t just moved house. I don’t know if I could cope with another move very soon. Even with help from friends and family, it was a costly and physically exhausting exercise. And now that we’re here, we love the place. On the other hand, the reduced rent would be such a huge saving for us that it would radically improve our lifestyle and remove a lot of stress – and they tell us we’ll probably get a 10-year lease.

We only get two offers. If we reject both without good reason, we’re taken off the list. If we reapply after that, the waiting time will start from the date of the new application. Oh how I wish we had accepted the six-month lease we were first offered here! But we said, ‘No thanks, we want more security of tenure than that’ and went looking elsewhere. The landlord came back to us with the offer of a 12-month lease because we were just the sort of tenants he was looking for, and so we grabbed it.

I looked up stuff about breaking a lease and found dire warnings that it can be very costly – although not necessarily. One legitimate reason for doing so, which might mean not owing the landlord compensation, is if we’d suffer significant hardship by staying here. That could certainly be argued, but in this case it’s not a matter for which the landlord is in any way responsible.

The lady I spoke with said she could suspend the priority until after our lease finished and then restore it without disadvantaging us, but Andrew was horrified at that idea, so we have left it as it is. And I dare say when the time comes we could always ask to terminate the lease early, and/or find someone to take it over.

We’re listed as wanting Murwillumbah, the town around which we’ve lived in various locations for the last 15 years. This is the furthest out from it we’ve been, here on the coast – and now we think we might prefer to be here after all. (Though we remain fond of dear old Mur’bah and have many friends there.) If we want to change our preference to Pottsville, we have to write a letter pretty swiftly. We won’t necessarily get the exact place we specify anyway; we might, but we’ll be offered whatever comes up in the general area.

I’ve hurt my back, Andrew’s had a crook leg and hasn’t been able to help much with anything, and in the last week or two I’ve been inexplicably weepy at the drop of a hat. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to depression in my life; just not a thing I normally suffer from. ‘You’re exhausted!’ says one of my closest friends. ‘Next time you move,’ says our massage therapist, ‘I’ll come and help. It’s too much for you!’ I tell her we had help, and she says, ‘I know, but I’ll come and help too.’ I do mental calculations and think, ‘Well, we’ll get our bond back, and that’ll mean we can pay the removalist to do the packing for us next time….’

Much as I dread another move, much as we love being here, it would be wonderful not to be always budgeting so tightly. So I think I’ll take Andrew’s advice and leave it up to the Universe, trusting that we’ll be looked after, as we always are. Meanwhile I’m going to get those books on the shelves and make the most of this place while we’re in it!


  1. Irony is cruel. I hope it works out for you. Why did Andrew not want to suspend the priority for a year? Unless I'm missing something here, that sounds like the best of both worlds.

    Still, as you say, you will find a way to cope if you are offered a place before your lease is up... and then at least you will have some security. Chances are, your lease will almost be up anyway when they offer you somewhere. A year can go very quickly, after all.

  2. Oh, he often feels more oppressed than I do about the money situation. My first reaction was to think as you do; he was more interested in the possibility of paying lower rent earlier. It would be only 25% of our income, I understand, whereas now it is roughly half.

  3. Oh, I see. Yes, that makes sense. I can see his thinking now.

  4. Those dire warnings are often made to sound more dire than what they actually are. From memory, I think they speak of having to pay the landlord's costs in finding a new tenant. I've broken a lease more than once and as long as you give plenty of notice, they don't seem too fussed. The timing is terrible on this isn't it? Still, I hope they find you a lovely new place.