Our adventure around the world continues with another edition of The Places We Live: Melbourne, Australia! A seven hour, red-eye flight got us from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne for about $150 each. We left one growing and bustling city simply to land in a new one. We were immediately struck by the familiar sounds of the English language, as well as the bitter chill that comes with the fall in May (?!). Read on to find out more about our first home sit in the land down under!
Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria, on the southern tip of Australia. With a population hovering around five million “Melbournians”, Melbourne ranks as the second most populous city in Australia, just behind Sydney. Thanks to its highly rated educational, cultural, and economic standing, Melbourne has been ranked as the World’s Most Livable City for the last seven years in a row!
We are in Australia as a short reprieve from the more foreign lands of Asia to celebrate our six month nomad anniversary. I didn’t specifically pick Melbourne for any real reason except that it was the cheapest city to fly to. Once that was decided, we started looking for house sits and found two back-to-back that would last us through the entire month of May. That would leave us with just enough time to fly back to China for our scheduled sit in Chengdu this June.
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Our New House
Our first home in Melbourne is only a few miles outside of the CBD (Australian for “downtown”). Using the trolley system (ranked as the largest in the world), we were able to get to and from town in about 20 minutes for $3 USD each. The trollies are very convenient, clean, and easy to navigate.
The house itself is a Victorian row house (look at me pretending to know what I’m talking about!). It is part of a very large duplex with a small front and back garden (Australian for yard). It didn’t look very large from the outside, but it was deep and had two levels, so it was actually quite spacious on the inside. There are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a den, two living rooms, a dining room, a large kitchen, and a garage. The prices I saw for homes of similar size in the neighborhood were going for about $750k USD.
Our house looks very similar to the other homes in the neighborhood. We get the impression that indoor-outdoor space is important to the Melbournians. Like most of the neighboring homes, the first floor was covered in windows and doors to the outside. Despite the cold of the upcoming winter (that’s right, it is FALL here), our host had the majority of the doors and windows open.
Our New Family
Our host, Ms. J, only recently moved into the home and works as a Vicar at the neighboring church. She has traveled quite a bit and has a lot of experience hosting house sitters in her home. She was super welcoming and made us feel very comfortable.
We were very excited about this sit because we would get to enjoy the company of two adult cats. They, unfortunately, we far less excited to meet us. We did eventually become friends, but it took a lot of pandering.
I know we’re not supposed to pick favorites, but Marley was my favorite. He was the ruler of the house and was not afraid to wave his authority over us. Marley was the first to wake us up each morning for breakfast, yelled at us when we left the wrong doors closed, etc. I wormed my way into Marley’s heart one night with an invitation onto my heated blanket. He slept with me each night after that.
Betsy liked Josh right away. Although she would hide from me, I could usually find her cuddled on a chair as close to Josh as possible without actually touching him. She did warm up to me after a little bit and at least stopped hiding from me. She liked that I fed her minced kangaroo meat for dinner (a common pet food in Australia) and I loved her beeping mews.
Living in Melbourne
As with all of the places we live, our budget in Australia is $200 USD per week. That affords us $38 Australian dollars per day, including housing, food, transportation, entertainment, visas, and tickets back out of the country. That is a pretty tight budget here, so we are very grateful for the free housing our house sits provide.
Shopping for groceries has proven to be fairly inexpensive, and although some of the names are unfamiliar, most of the food is recognizable. We were able to do quite well on our budget with our usual staples, plus some local microbrews and snacks. We have all of the kitchen appliances are we are used to and have been finding it easy to cook at home on a budget.
The weather has been cold and very rainy since we arrived, so most of our days are spent working at the kitchen table. We have gotten in the habit of keeping our eye on the windows, ready to run outside for a walk during every break in the clouds. There are a lot of parks nearby and so many interesting birds and plants to look at.
Overall, we are liking Melbourne a lot. It has a hipster vibe very similar to Portland, Oregon but with the cleanliness and seriousness of Vancouver, Canada. We’re really excited to do more exploring in this amazing city and country!
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