Real estate in Sydney, as in New York, is a blood sport. Prices are out of control and competition for homes is intense. Real estate agents, who obviously never heard the phrase "A rising tide lifts all ships", plaster their faces around the city like they're rock stars for selling a place.
During the 15 minute showings for rentals it's not uncommon to have 10 other people looking at the apartment with you. As in New York, if you like a place you pretty much need to submit an application right away; the landlord then picks the best candidate. It's hard not to eye up the other people and judge which ones might look good on paper.
The apartment Sharon and I got when we first moved here was a five minute walk to the beach and had just been renovated. It would have been perfect but for two major reasons: 1) It had no outdoor space and 2) it was on the ground floor next to a major walkway, so we kept our shutters closed so all the people walking by wouldn't peek into our home. We felt like we lived in a bunker.
When our landlord decided to raise our rent, we decided it was time to find a new place. Sharon and I looked at a couple apartments that turned out to be dumps, and one day I went solo. It was the best I'd seen so I put an application down. Apparently, on paper we looked the best because it was offered to us.
We moved this past Saturday, which proved exhausting since we had several flights of stairs (and no elevator!) to contend with at our new location. But it was worth it: we've got a big balcony with a decent view (the trees are semi-blocking the water, but in winter when they drop their leaves we'll have a fantastic view), natural light streams in from big windows, and we're on the top floor so the only passers-by are some birds.
A view and a balcony are much more conducive to drinking wine, I've discovered. After all, savoring wine is about savoring life, and that's hard to do in a bunker. We might have opened one bottle of wine to drink by ourselves during the year in our old place; we already put down a bottle our first night here while wolfing down some Dominos. We just need to get a couple of chairs and a small table for the balcony and then it'll be off to the races.
Oh, and now we're a 15 minute walk to the beach, but I think we can live with that. :)