Finding a flat in Bondi
After our Asian Adventure wrapped up, Cory, Federico, and I made a pact to re-unite in Sydney for a summer on the beach in Australia. After Nepal, I was headed back to the States for my sister’s wedding, Cory was off to do the SE Asian Circuit he had missed out on, and Federico had gone back to New Zealand for another winter season. I had lived in Sydney before- did a semester at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2000- and knew I had unfinished business of sorts left in the Land Down-Under- namely, spending a true Aussie summer on the beach. Sun, sand, and surf- that was the draw. It didn’t take a lot to convince Cory and Fede that that was the next move to be made on The Expedition, and before we knew it, individual travels completed, we were all en route to Oz…
On my previous stint in Sydney, I had lived in a cool little seaside suburb called Coogee, which is located in the south-eastern suburbs, about 20-30 minutes by bus from Downtown. While it was a great place to live when I was in school there (UNSW is just a quick bus ride up the street), I didn’t necessarily want to live there again. Nothing against Coogee at all- it is still an amazing little spot- but more so because I had already lived there once, and was keen to explore and experience another part of the city. We considered a few other spots- Maroubra, Manly, Bronte- but eventually came to the joint conclusion that the best place for us to set up shop for the summer was the Backpacker’s Mecca of Sydney- the infamous Bondi Beach.
For those of you that are unfamiliar, Bondi is an incredible place- it’s Australia’s version of Hollywood, NYC’s Lower East Side, and Southern California, all rolled into one. A little further north up the coast from Coogee, it is a bit closer to the city, but still maintains that relaxed seaside atmosphere. Think kitschy open-air cafes blended in with posh restaurants and fancy hotels, sprinkle in a couple fancy clubs and a few bustling beer gardens, line the streets with surfers and skateboarders, artists and actors, locals and tourists, put a bright Aussie sun up in a blue expanse of sky, and throw all of this against a backdrop of golden sand, rolling waves, blue waters, tanned bodies in bikinis and board shorts lining the shore, and you’ve got a snapshot of the reality that is Bondi Beach. It’s pretty awesome.
Upon our arrival, we immediately set to the task of finding a place to live for the summer. Similar to our previous flat-hunting situation in Queenstown, we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as we may have hoped. As mentioned above, Bondi is THE PLACE TO BE in Sydney for the summer, and we were far from being the only people looking for a seasonal lease on a flat. Luckily, we had a place to stay while we were looking for a flat in Bondi- a college buddy was actually living in Sydney at the time, and he and his wife let us crash at their place while going through the flat-hunting process. This saved us a lot of trouble we may have had with hostels and the craziness that hostel life entails while we were trying to get settled.
We started out with the typical channels- “For Lease” lists from all the agencies in Bondi, Saturday morning viewings with what seemed to be a hundred others interested in the same places, and pointless applications that we were almost certain would never be read. Again, like Queenstown, we quickly realized that this was not going to be the most efficient way of seeking out a summer residence. Thus, we turned our eyes to other options, scouring various Australian websites in the hopes of finding something through a private owner rather than having to go through a rental agency. It still took a few days, but in the end, we were successful.
We got hooked up with a woman- Kim- that managed several apartments in the Bondi area, and got on the top of her list of people to call when one of her units was coming available. In the end, we ended up taking the second place she showed us, a sweet little 2-bedroom apartment that was a short 10 minute walk from the beach and the main street in Bondi. Here’s the short version of the LONG story:
Cory and I had viewed several places during our search, had been in the ‘flat hunting mixer’ for about 2 weeks, and knew that places were going quickly. We waited too long on the first place Kim showed us- it wasn’t a great location, and wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. The second place was a much better location, but still wasn’t EXACTLY what we were looking for (We wanted 3 bedrooms, a nice little sun-deck for afternoon BBQs, a quick walk to the beach, etc.), but as another group of Kim’s contacts walked up the sidewalk to view the place, the pressure was ON. “We might not find anything else…”, we thought, both wary of the fact that summer was rapidly approaching, and that there might not be any more places opening up. “We’re 3 blocks from the beach- thats what we came to Australia for, right??”, trying to focus on the up-side and see the positives of the place. Alas, we both knew that as a traveler, you often have to make the most of what you’re presented with. So, after a brief discussion, we quickly sent a text message to Kim to let her know that we did in fact want the flat. We hung around for a few minutes until the other group left, and then went in to ask her if we still had a chance. She hadn’t checked her phone, but the group that had just left hadn’t committed to anything either, so we were still in the clear. Relieved, we confirmed that we did in fact want the place, and thus made arrangements to get together in the next couple of days to sign the papers and get everything in order for us to move in.
The anxiety of the hunt and the tension of the moment quickly fell away, and was rapidly replaced by the excitement of the imminent- a new place to call home, an approaching Aussie summer full of good times to be had and memories to be made, the amazing adventures and incredible things yet to come… We were in Australia- that country of beauty and adventure- and had just landed a place to live on Bondi Beach. We could see the waves rolling in from our front sidewalk, we could smell the sea in the air and feel the sun on our faces. The days were getting warmer, and The Summer Down-Under was about to begin…
To start planning YOUR adventure through Australia, click HERE......