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Housing fantasy quashed by culture of entitlement

  • 06 November 2015

When I was a child growing up in houses with overgrown gardens and irregular angles and the lingering scents of sandalwood and dahl, the house I longed for in my imaginary adult future was blonde-bricked, double-storied, concrete-paved and white-carpeted, with little white lions manning the gate.

This imaginary house would be perfectly clean and 'character'-less, except, of course, for the porcelain cherubs in the tea room. And it would be mine, all mine.

Now I am older, and the concept of renting a room in a concrete mansion in Preston (the manifestation of this baby's dream house) is totally possible, but only if I share the place with six other paying adults, and make sure I never dream of actually owning it. Because it is 2015, I live in Melbourne (the sixth-least affordable city to live in in the world), and I am not a merchant banker.

No concrete plot will ever by mine, I say in tune with the million other people my age who have just assimilated that knowledge.

I never really expected I'd be able to 'choose' where or how I lived. Most people just live where and how they can. But I also never expected that my generation would be the first in Australia to have to shift its understanding of housing (in)security, such that it is possible to imagine a full life of work without retiring in a home of one's own — or without even the prospect of retirement, in the traditional sense.

Grounded as I am in the lucrative industry known as independent publishing, it goes without saying that permanent, secure, or affordable 'housing' is a faraway fantasy for me. And maybe that's okay.

In my ten years of sharehousing, I've lived in all kinds of rooms, schlepping my worldly belongings from one creaky bedroom with wall cracks to the next. Everything I own is in some way disposable, and I accept that at some point I will dispose of it all. I have shared homes with all manner of freaks and geeks, and may well do it til the day I die.

I guess I can say I am lucky that I never sublet a corner of someone's living room to camp inside. But if things get tough, I won't rule it out.

Some of this is about personal values. I don't really believe that profiting from other people's housing insecurity is an ethical way to pay your bills. But some