I have purposely not written about one of the most difficult aspects of the build so far- Steve and I have been nomads for the past six months.
Not posting about this part of the build has been a deliberate decision. First and foremost, I would never want to come across as being ungrateful for the incredible hospitality and generosity which has been shown to us. I simply want to write this because navigating around the logistics of building a house is not glamorous and it’s definitely not easy. I want to share with you the tough times, as well as the exciting ones.
Last year, Steve and I had many a discussion about what we would do with our living situation as our house was being built. We knew that juggling the costs of a mortgage, construction of the house and you know, living, would present some challenges that we wanted to be prepared for. Do we try and rent our spare room (albeit illegally) on AirBnb? Do we try and rent our spare room long-term knowing full-well that during summer, that room reaches the temperature of a wood-fire pizza oven? Then came the question- do we move in with family?
My wonderful Grandmother (aka Nanny), who lives on the Mornington Peninsula had already very generously offered for us to stay with her during the build. My mum, who is closer to Melbourne, then offered for us to use my sisters room while she was away studying. This was definitely the most appealing option- we could save more money, while not being locked in to any rental contracts and the uncertainty that comes with building time-lines.
There have been many positives to come from the decision to live between two houses over the past six months. We have saved a lot more money which has allowed us the freedom that comes with not having to count every single cent that leaves our bank accounts. Above all else, as I am someone who so fiercely values connection to my family, the ability to see either my mum or grandmother on a daily basis has been an aspect I have cherished dearly.
There have been challenges though- not only for Steve and I, but for our family as well.
For starters, Steve and I have our furniture, boxes and belongings in four different locations across Victoria. Knowing where one possession of ours at any given time is a game I am sick of playing.
I am very aware that we have invaded the space of many of our family members. My sister has given over her bedroom- and sanity- to our abundance of clothes (Steve has double the amount compared to me as well). My mum can’t walk around both sides of her bed because we have our sideboard in the way. Nanny’s garage has been inundated with boxes, artwork and furniture. I’m pretty sure Steve’s Gran can’t access half of her own garage. We have been at a bit of a loss, working out how we can thank each person for the sheer annoyance of dealing with our stuff.
Above all else though, the biggest battle personally has been the mental one. I have always considered myself to be a staunch home body. I love the comfort of being in my own space, watching a random (yet thoroughly interesting) documentary on Netflix, in my pyjamas. The premise of ‘coming home’ has been a difficult one over the past six months because as homely as Mums and Nanny’s feel, it’s still not my home. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for many years now, I never realised the battle I would take on, not having my own space. For the first few months of living between houses, I wondered if it was really worth it. My anxiety was worse than it had been since my early twenties. Thankfully, I have adjusted and I no longer feel inches from hyperventilating.
The day to day battle of planning where we will be has been taxing on both of us. Every day, we have to consider where we will be staying and what we would need for that night and the following day. This has resulted in Steve and I having about five items of clothing on rotation and harks back to the days of travelling through Europe- just instead of seeing the Arc Du Triumph, we go to work.
The merry-go-round of beds would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so annoying. Over the Christmas period when we spent 8 nights in a row in 8 different beds. That's eight seperate occasions where people have taken us in to their homes- such a generous gesture from so many of our loved ones.
Here are some tips if you are considering living with family for all (or part) of your build:
Be really open with how you communicate to who you are staying with. When staying between multiple houses, it has been a real adjustment letting people know where we were expecting to be, and when (most of the time because we don’t know ourselves).
Be realistic about your travel times between where you are staying and work. At times, it has taken us 2 and a half hours to get home from work- I have no clue how people live on the Mornington Peninsula and drive to the city to work each day.
Work as a team- one of my absolute favourite parts of living with family is that Steve and I have started carpooling in to work. That time we get to spend with just each other has been so valuable and has become one of my favourite parts of each day.
Expect to live out of your car- it becomes your only place which is truely your own so don’t be surprised if it turns in to a hot bed of random life stuff.
As difficult as it has been for me, I am very aware that we have been staying with my family. It is a damn good thing that Steve is as cool, calm and collected as anyone I know because the challenge of living with people you never have before is not easy. The strength of our relationship throughout the last six months has never waivered. The support he has given me, and that we collectively have given to our relationship, has been one of the greatest wins of all.