At long last, after months of planning and organising movers, Matt and I moved in with his mum and dad in Greytown in mid March. Why did we decide to move?
There was no one reason. In life, changes often come about lots of reasons. I’ve written this blog post to explain why we did it, what we say to people who look shocked that we’re commuting in to Wellington each day and what changes we’ve encountered in our daily lives so far.
Why We Moved
Around this time last year, our property management company who looked after our Oriental Parade flat informed us that we would only be allowed to sign a 6 month lease because the owner of the property wanted to sell the house. Naturally, we were gutted. We had such a great location, opposite Fryberg Beach. Our rent was initially $475 per week which was raised after the first year to $500, reasonable for Wellington (we also had a spare bedroom and our kitchen was decent sized). It was a cosy place (well, as cosy as a non-insulated house with no sunlight in any room at most times of day except the front one can be, and at permanent risk of the St Gerard's Monastery coming down upon us). We loved that house and Matt and I took care of it as if it were our own.
After realising their initial proposition didn’t work because the upstairs neighbours had already signed a lease until March, we were then told we could stay if we wanted until March 2019. This was all happening while we were planning our trip in 2018 to Europe. It proved to be all quite confusing. Did we give up our lease when we came back from Europe? Or did we stay for a few months extra, and find someone to house sit our property. Eventually, the latter worked out well, but there was on-going pressure with renting life for some time. The house ended up being bought by a wealthy family on Oriental Parade who had their first-year-university year old kids move in. Matt and I were a bit like Victor Meldrew in the last few weeks, as they clumped around at all hours of the night, dropping furniture and yelling at each other loudly. It kind of ruined our final fortnight but alas, such is being eighteen!
When we were travelling in Europe, we decided that instead of renting again when our lease was up, that we wanted save money. This was in part prompted by the shocking rental market which has become normal in Wellington. My parents live in Wellington but are apartment dwellers. Matts parents lived further away but absolutely had more space. At first, we didn’t think that we would be able to save living so far away. The train pass alone costs $378!! But once we sat down and actually did the math on returning back to Wellington, we worked out that a year of living with family could save us a considerable sum of money. Not enough to waltz into the bank and slam down a house deposit (ironically, despite the name being somewhat of a relevant tie-in, we’re not going to get into talking about property on The Residents in depth, as I may claw my eyeballs out) but enough to look at ourselves in the eye and say ‘You’ve got this’.
I should add that on 1 January our friend Ben told us about the book ‘The Barefoot Investor’ (actually he had lent us the book months before but we didn’t read it). After having done some lose calculations working out what we could save, I had started to become vaguely interested in our personal finances at the grand old age of 29. So I decided to go and buy it straight away on January 3rd. Having read it, I can declare Matt and I have started following the steps, set up our bank accounts in the way author Scott Pape describes and are feeling extremely onto it versus our approach in other years past. Are we rollin’ in the dough? Far from it. But we have a plan. I would like to dedicate a whole blog post just to describing how the Barefoot Investor approach works as I think it is THAT good. But overall the takeaway is working out your money issues with your partner or spouse is a mission but it is a mission you can enjoy together, like the Avengers or Batman and Robin. This has been one reason we actually came to look forward to moving in with Matts parents in Greytown.
Finally, I need to add - we love Greytown. It is such a nice place to be living and our weekend trips to visit Matts mum and dad convinced us we could enjoy our lives there. Beautiful shops, rolling hills and a warmer climate than Wellington - what’s not to enjoy. Also, Matts mum and dad are very lovely people and were open to the idea. We are paying our way as adults (it isn’t a free ride when you are 28 and 29 and rightly so) but it will help us overall make progress with our goal of having a bit more budget in the bank.
Taking control of your finances, especially as a woman, is a hugely empowering thing. Through my twenties I didn’t save much and now it has become apparent that like a gardener putting fertiliser on the flower bed, I need to give things a place to grow for the future.
We are commuters!
Who would have thought! Commuter life just got real. Loads of Wellingtonians commute from the Wairarapa, including the Hutt Valley, Petone and not to mention the Kapiti Coast. More and more, it is becoming a way of life for Wellingtonians.
Lots of people living in Wellington are horrified when I say we’re catching the train in to work each day, and every evening we catch it home. I understand. When we lived in Oriental Parade, a big part of our Wellington lifestyle was a short commute, either walking or driving into town.
My commute used to take me 7 minutes walking. Often I would go to be around 11pm or even later, and wake up at 7:30am. Now, we go to bed around 10pm and wake up at 5:30am every day. We get ready and then drive about 6:10 to Woodside Station. The train arrives at 6:18 am and we get on, trying to find a seat together (not always possible - the trains are now busier and busier according to Matts dad).
I read a book or write a blog or write something else, just for myself (I’m trying to work on getting something else started). It is a good time to write because I can just go uninterrupted for a full hour and a quarter. The weather outside the train today is rainy and I’m not particularly looking forward to leaving in the dark and coming home in the dark in a few weeks time. But overall, I like the train. We remind people that if you live in London, catching a train for an hour to work is fairly standard. People still shake their heads and can’t believe that you’d commute in from Greytown. Apart from the fact that there could be a few more trains and it would be nice if the train sped along a bit faster, Matt and I don’t see it being too much trouble. He’s been studying for his CFA exams. Life continues. Life is busy. Generally, I haven’t been too tired, but I do get sleepier faster during the evenings. I’m trying to listen to my body clock and take myself to bed.
Changes in daily life
The change from living in Oriental Bay to Greytown is pretty big, but overall we are loving it. Not to sound ungrateful for our Oriental Bay life, but I was ready for a change up, especially after returning from Europe. 3 years in one place in your twenties is a good slog!
Apart from our changes in our bedtime and wake up time, we now obviously spend a great deal more time around Matts mum and dad. That is pretty great most of the time because we really like them! We do need to figure out how to have some quiet time for just us still so we are going to start going on dates more. It’s important to keep a sense of closeness as a couple.
In Greytown, I now have an actual bathroom to put my skincare and makeup in! This is amazing for me because the only place in our old flat I had space was a long desk in our lounge. It feels very luxurious to actually have some space to organise my stuff in.
Another lovely improvement is that the house is miles warmer than our old flat in Oriental Parade, and it is making me so so happy. As mentioned above, I think one of the reasons the owner sold the house was because they had to insulate it in the future as a landlord. It was very cold in Winter.
Matts mum has been wonderful and cooking us dinner when we arrive home at 7pm on the train in the evening. This means that the ‘mental load’ of looking after the house which used to mainly fall to me, just because being in a nice environment bothers me more than Matt, has been lifted. It actually is so lovely! I know it can’t last forever but for now it is great.
I do need to leave work a bit earlier these days, around 5pm to catch the 5:30pm train. This is a bit of a pain but I do get in around 8am so I suppose it’s okay.
Finally, I am having to say no more to blog related engagements. It is reasonably difficult but it has made me really focus on what I started this blog for. Having an excuse can actually be a relief. While it is lovely to be invited to theatre shows 5 nights a week or go to dinner with a group of farmers breeding a special kind of lamb, this isn’t why I started writing. I started writing to share my stories of life and conversations with you! So in some ways, not being able to go out in the evenings and needing to get on the train is a blessing.
I do feel like my lunchtimes and week days have more crammed in, especially as I am going to personal training twice a week in the afternoon with Matt. That means I only have 3 days a week for everything else which is 3 hours! 3 hours a week to do all my blog coffees and meetings is fairly tight. So if I decline something for you in the future, please don’t take it personally. I just had zero hours to actually get stuff done now!
Overall, I am loving commuter life. The weather is still warm and sunny in the Wairarapa and last night we all sat on the deck for a chat with a bottle of beer and enjoyed the mild weather with the cats, and Matts parents dog Ruby. From the sounds of my Instagram Stories, you guys are keen to see some Wairarapa centric blog posts, which I’m thrilled about! Let me know if you have any other ideas about what I should blog for Winter 2019 below. Otherwise, I’ll ACTUALLY be back soon with a good old fashioned interview for you to read. Have a great Monday!