Posts tagged housesitting

Discovering Perth

When Oli and I began talking about and planning our trip around Australia, we knew we would have to find some work along the way, to keep us going. WWOOFing, seasonal farm work, fruit picking and other temporary jobs were all on our list of work options. I never pictured myself getting stuck into a professional role along the way, but strangely enough, that’s how things have turned out.

On our way down the West Coast in October 2011, we discovered that we were way too late to pick up any fruit picking work … the backpackers had snapped it all up weeks earlier. So we started talking about finding some work in Perth.

Being a landscape gardener, Oli can find casual work almost anywhere, so he had a job lined in Perth before we even got there. Great, that took the pressure off.

But I had no idea how difficult it would be for me to find work. I applied for anything and everything, from temp work in admin through to retail jobs, hospitality work and even thought about going back to childcare. But after two months of relentless job hunting, I landed a great job –  a 12 month contract with The University of Western Australia.

I’m now half way through the contract, and really enjoying it. The team I work with are fantastic, the role is interesting, and it’s been a great opportunity to grow my skills and also learn about working in a tertiary institution.

And I’m so pleased we’ve had the chance to live in Perth for a while. It’s quite an unusual city, but I’ve come to love it. Here, it’s all about the lifestyle. The weather is (mostly) great, the beaches are sublime and the people are friendly and welcoming.

In many ways, this city is a little bit behind the times: for example, almost nothing is open on Sundays (not even Woolies!). Perth people can be quite conservative – people with dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings, unusual clothing, and even facial hair (e.g Oli’s beard) attract stares and comments from strangers; in Newtown, they wouldn’t get a second look!  Some locals can tend to be just a little bit suspicious of anyone from ‘over East’. And it’s impossible to find anywhere to watch the State of Origin rugby league live here – it’s AFL or nothing!

On the other hand, Perth can be quite cosmopolitan in its own way, and we’ve enjoyed discovering all that it has to offer. There is a thriving local music scene here, supported by some fantastic music venues like Mojos and Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle, The Bakery in Northbridge, and the Indi Bar in Scarborough.  We caught some comedians doing their thing at Perth’s very first International Comedy Festival, and one weekend in summer Oli and I enjoyed a boozy bicycle ride out in the Swan Valley, visiting some gorgeous wineries and micro-breweries. On top of all this, there are plenty of quirky little bars and cafes, and some decent markets to be found too.

We’ve made a conscious decision not to get too settled here in Perth, as it’s too far away from Sydney and Canberra for us to want to stay here permanently. Plus, we’ve got a trip around Australia to complete!  

So instead of renting a place, we’ve continued our nomadic lifestyle by becoming house sitters. We’ve stayed in a number of different homes, minding peoples pets and houses while they are away overseas. We get to enjoy their pets company, spend time in some lovely homes and save on rent, and the owners don’t have to worry about the garden becoming overgrown or their pets fretting away in a cattery or boarding kennel. 

It’s kind of weird living in someone else’s home. You come to realise how different we all are, and how much people’s lifestyles vary.  Some people are so organised – everything has its place, is labelled, alphabetised and there is a routine or instructions for everything, while others are much more casual in how their home is set out and organised.  Some places seem really warm, comfortable and lived in, while some places we’ve stayed in feel like the owners probably don’t spend a great deal of time at home, preferring to be out and about most of the time.

It’s an interesting glimpse into how other people live, and often makes me wonder what our home will be like, when we eventually finish this trip and find somewhere to settle.

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