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February 2, 2009 / Amy Bradney-George

On sharehouses

So long and thanks for all the sh*t

So long and thanks for all the sh*t

Photo: Amazing Amazone

In the last three years I have lived with an average of nine different people a year in sharehouses around Brisbane, and in that whole time I’ve never written all that much about them. I thought John Birmingham said it all pretty well in He Died With a Felafel in His Hand and that Richard Lowenstein’s film adaptation showed it all. Turns out there’s an endless amount of stories and angles you can deal with, so I’ve got my five cents’ worth to add.

It all revolves around house work.

Things might start with the dishes getting to a stage where they devour the benchspace in the kitchen, move on to the garbage and recycling spilling foul-smelling unidentifiable watery stuff on your clothes and escalates from there. Maybe you have to cut the hedges at the front of the house with little pink stationary scissors because no one else will organise to get it done. Maybe you have to throw out the rotting pile of fruit that’s claimed the floor adjacent to the dining table.

Sure, you get that all the time. It’s part of the Great Sharehouse Experience, and it makes up half the funny stories you can tell once those days are behind you.

What I didn’t know was that moving is just as much a part of this Great Sharehouse Experience. I’ve never heard much about it before – I suppose because in sharehouses you often get people coming and going in between lease renewals. So when my last sharehouse got sold I got the full moving fiasco without warning.

It starts small enough, like the dishes. Someone accidentally takes something that’s clearly yours and brings it back, no problems. Then you realise that they’ve also left behind furniture, plants, rubbish and, oh? Is that a bean bag filling up our garbage bin so we can’t put anything else in there? Wonderful.

It’s even more fun in a big house. Play clean-ups and find the giant box of skank clothes left by one girl, or the broken outdoor seat that someone brought home and no one wanted to claim after they realised how unfixable it was. Plus, if you have an owner overseas, enjoy finding stuff he’s hidden away like that giant, scary metal lamp behind the hot water system.

My favourite, by far, is the endless masses of cardboard boxes, bike parts, car parts and other rubbish – usually found in, or adjacent to, the garage. This is always more rubbish than you could fit into two giant garbage bins and more than enough recycling material for two of those wheelie bins. Imagine a pile of cardboard and rubbish so big it starts to take up a third of the reasonably-sized driveway, and comes up to your knees in height. Now imagine trying to squeeze that into a compact two-door car.

Now imagine realising you don’t have anything to do with 90 per cent of that crap. Bike? What bike? No one who ever lived here ordered a new bike – oh, wait, our housemate’s sibling got it delivered here. Our housemate who is conveniently out of town while we’re here slaving away in the sun, ripping up stupid boxes we aren’t responsible for so we can have a better chance of getting our bond back.

We stood there, hot, sweaty and tired. A day before the lease runs out and seriously pissed off that we have to deal with this stuff at our old house, even if it is only to let the $800 cleaners in and get rid of the crap. Fuming at our (friends) housemates for ditching us with so much crap and swearing as cardboard cuts our fingers and dust clogs up our airways.

I was pissed off, doing the work with my two current (and thankfully amazing) housemates but feeling like even a barking dog would set me off on a crazed, hissing rampage.

Enter the real estate agent, a day before the lease expires, with a bitchlook at us for being there and a glimmer in their eye promising us bond hassles.



Leave a Comment
  1. Denis Semchenko / Feb 5 2009 11:40 am

    Ah, moving out. When I left my Forest Lake unit early last year, the cleaners broke my glass tabletop when I misjudgingly left it to sit in the garage for a few days before I could entirely disassemble the table and fit it in my car – something I’ll never forget or forgive.

  2. Nick James / Feb 8 2009 5:11 pm

    Alack! Did you get the bond back?

    (They wasn’t meant to rhyme…)

  3. amybradneygeorge / Feb 15 2009 4:28 pm

    @ Denis – that’s terrible! I hope they compensated you.

    @ Nick – stay tuned for more on the bond, it’s yet to come my way.

  4. Denis Semchenko / Feb 15 2009 4:37 pm

    No they didn’t compensate me Amy, and in all fairness, I was slack about hitting them up for damages. I ended up buying new glass from IKEA…

    • amybradneygeorge / Feb 15 2009 6:52 pm

      Ah yeah, I guess if you don’t get onto them about it they’re apt to not offer compensation. Glad IKEA helped though!

  5. Birmo / Feb 19 2009 8:51 pm

    You have my sympathies. But I’m not helping you move.

    • amybradneygeorge / Feb 19 2009 9:23 pm

      But Birmo Movers has such a nice ring to it!

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