In the past 2 and a bit months, D and I have been casting around for a new place to live after our landlord in Dulwich Hill gave us notice.  It is a wrench.  We have been here 10 years.

Dulwich Hill is a relatively obscure suburb in the “Inner West” of Sydney: many people from out of the district have to ask where it is and indeed I confess that before I moved here it was a bit of a mystery to me too.

If you’ve been in a long tenancy, all new lettings look horribly expensive.  We found Dulwich Hill beyond our means and looked further abroad.  We found affordable places in Arncliffe.  Arncliffe too is a bit obscure, though less so than Dulwich Hill because several prominent roads meet there.  It is in the unnamed orange section of the maps above between “The Shire” and the Inner West.  That’s a part of Sydney that doesn’t even merit a name or a map from its own perspective.

Finally, after protracted negotiations with one agent, it was looking almost certain that we would be moving to Arncliffe.  A deposit was paid; removalists were organised; a date was set to sign the lease and pick up the keys; the initial rent and bond were paid by EFT.

The new house was good inside but I wasn’t crazy about the location and the locality.  When a member of the Dulwich Hill gang with whom I go to concerts asked how the move was going, I told him that we would be hanging up our harps and weeping on the far side of Wolli Creek, but that we would never forget Dulwich Hill.

Then, the Friday before the Saturday the lease was to be signed, I received a copy of the residential tenancy agreement.  It had special conditions which were unwelcome.  The agent said they were standard – which means standard for that agent.  Things have definitely got worse for tenants since I last signed an agreement, and it’s not just a question of market conditions.

We “negotiated.”  That means that the agent made 1 change (the draft erroneously said “no pets”)  rejected 2 other changes I requested and offered a compromise on a fourth which was conditional on a shorter lease term.  As the length of the lease term was more important to us than the issue in question, that wasn’t really an attractive proposition.

In the meantime, as you have to, we cancelled the move for the time being and started looking again.

By Monday I had paid a deposit on a place in Ashfield.  We withdrew the application for the Arncliffe place.

It’s not as if the lease conditions were much more favourable. At least this time I was not taken by surprise.  The location is quieter; the house inside is daggier; the garden is nicer.  It is a bit more expensive.

So we shall be staying in the inner west after all, albeit in a suburb which I would once have thought as being right at its edge.  Real estate supplements now routinely include suburbs well west of Strathfield under this rubric.

When I was younger I used to laugh at my contemporaries who grew up and stayed in the North Shore.  Why would you want to do that?  But after living practically all of my adult life (apart from short stints interstate) in the inner west of Sydney, I find I am loth to leave.


I first encountered the above maps courtesy of Jim Belshaw.   They come from the UNSW student newspaper, Tharunka.  It appears to be a kind of a meme, mined extensively (if you can mine a meme) by Yanko Tsvetkov.  A global version of something similar was used for the opening titles of the straight-to-ABC2 Dumb Drunk and Racist.

2 Responses to “Self-Identity”

  1. Yvonne Frindle (@frindley) Says:

    Welcome to the ’burb!

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