Whilst I was in Melbourne recently I had what I can only term as an epiphany. I was sat on the grass at a small local market listening to a musician, with annoying children running around screeching and the mozzies biting, and yet I suddenly realised that this was the place I was meant to stop travelling and settle.
I don’t mean the market, or Melbourne itself particularly, but I think it’s fair to say that Australia has been life-changing for me.
I have been battling for a while with the dichotomy of wanting to be ‘at home’ and to be part of a community, whilst also having this compulsion to travel and to be somewhere else all the time.
It turns out that Australia may just be big enough to contain both my need for community and my wanderlust.
I love that there is enough space here for everyone, so slightly artsy old hippies with pink hair and a bit of body art (just supposed I know anyone like that) have a nook where they can fit in.
I went back to my Airbnb that night and concocted a plan. I was going to find a way to return to Australia next summer (that’s winter if you’re reading this in a normal country) with enough of an independent income to be able to settle for a while. I had idea after idea and I scribbled them all in my little notebook; I can be surprisingly productive when I want something badly enough.
I trotted happily through Melbourne and into New Zealand with this idea building momentum. Then suddenly it all fell apart.
The main part of my travels are financed through a small flat in London, which I have rented out.
People who don’t own property think that renting out your home is like a license to print money, but it really isn’t.
Unless you have somebody in your home town willing to ‘manage’ the place for free (elderly parents work well for this purpose, I’ve found) then you need an agent to take care of everything, and they take a sizeable chunk of money, meaning that sometimes the rent payment you receive is not as big and hearty as current rent values would suggest.
However when it works it provides a small, reliable income that can be used for travelling (this works best when the countries you’re travelling to offer cheaper prices than your home country).
This has worked well for me for a year and a bit now, after a few teething troubles at the beginning.
Now suddenly my tenant (who, it turns out, is also the person managing things) has decided they are not going to pay the rent anymore and they are not going to leave the property either.
Then they ceased all communication with me; they don’t respond to emails or answer the phone or sign for recorded delivery letters.
My solicitor estimates the cost of removing them from my home at between £2000 and £2500 and the time scale as anything from two to six months.
During this time I still have to pay all the expenses on the flat and then will have to pay to put right any damage they have caused to the property.
I think it’s safe to say I am a little bit angry and more than a bit frustrated.
So the offshoot is I am headed back to London. Sorting out this mess from 10,000 miles away is proving more than a little difficult, and so I am putting my plans on a back-burner for a while.