On the whole, 2008 has been a pretty good year for me. I enrolled in a post-graduate course at Melbourne Uni - if I keep it up I'll be a licensed Master of Publishing and Communications. Hell, I might even go do the mortarboard and gown thing for the first time when I finish this one. By dint of not so persistent practice and application my drawing steadily improved to the point where I felt up to hanging a few of the better ones on the study wall. Things were looking good, as long as I ignored the 'housing affordability crisis' - in plain English, Australia's chronic housing shortage.
Then in late October, when I was out in the outer leafies, dog-sitting again, the usual happened: that cantankerous old bastard in the sky, the one in whom I refuse to believe, dropped a big, fat jobbie into my life. I came home for an overnight stay, after a class, and Zeppo Bakunin showed me the notice to quit that we'd received from the agents. Our landlord and landlady were splitting up and the landlord and his daughter needed a place to live. Moving us out, so that they could move in, was cheaper than moving into a rented house, in a tight rental market, and keeping up the mortgage payments on this place, regardless of the rental income and negative gearing. I used to like our landlords but, sooner or later, this country's housing market forces everyone involved in it to act like a bastard.
So now Zeppo Bakunin and I are looking for the opportunity to perform our own little act of bastardry - we're looking for a house we can move to. Whatever we look at, there's bound to be at least one young family looking at the same place. People who'll use the extra bedrooms for sleeping in, rather than accomodating desks, computers, books and assorted stuff.
Since the market is very tight at the moment, it's wise to have back-up plans. My plan B is to get really active on internet dating sites, and try to find someone with really low expectations with a bungalow in the backyard. Plan C is to pack up all or most of the stuff, put it into self-storage and use my pensioner Christmas bonus to do a bit of travelling: the way the economy is heading, I reckon the first edition of The Rough Sleeper's Guide to Australia will find a ready market.
At times like these, I envy the Swedes. Back in 2002, I read a World Bank report which gave the Swedish government a slap on the wrist for allowing a surplus of public housing to develop. This was, of course, a waste of economic resources and therefore economically irrational, if not irresponsible. Given the choice between economically responsible government and a roof over my head, I know which one I'd take right now.