For the better part of 18 months, Jen and I have been setting aside money towards buying our first home. As two people that love to spend money impulsively, its been an interesting challenge for us. I am a materialistic creature by habit and I am always distracted by something new and shiny to spend money on – whisky, football, fancy restaurants, the latest gadgets…there’s always something.
Happily, we’ve reached a milestone in our savings where a mortgage broker advised that we’re in a sensible position to buy a house. While we’re happy to hit this stage, we’ve still no idea when the time will come that we find the house we’re after. It could be weeks, months, maybe even years. We’re in no rush and most people recommend holding out. The once mighty housing market in Brisbane appears to finally be softening.
We spend some nights mulling over the latest listings on realestate.com.au and compare our favourite houses. Jen wants a big kitchen. I want a decent sized rumpus room. We both want enough bedrooms for overseas visitors and a potential Jedo Jr one day. We’re both shit at gardening so the smaller the front yard, the better.
Not surprisingly, I’m the more demanding of the two of us. Like most metropolitan areas, Brisbane has a wide range of architecture, including the well-loved ‘Queenslander’, the local term for post-WWII homes that are typically made of wood and tend to favour designs that feature wooden slats and stumps to accomodate our warm climate and allow cool breezes to pass through. I personally don’t care too much for them.
Part of me longs for a ‘Bruneian’ still. The Grekko-Roman pillars out front. That lovely cement finish. Chandaliers and gaudy furniture inside. Chairs that are more like thrones. Token Bali woodcarvings. I miss my old home in Simpang 700 with its pink room, blue room and band room. I miss my home after that in Simpang 800 with its sweet gazeebo and ten million rooms. For their last few years in Brunei, my parents lived in a five bedroom house. They say that all parents want their children to live better off than them. For kids growing up in Brunei, I think our parents set the bar stupidly high. That same house in Simpang 800 would cost two million dollars in Brisbane and wouldn’t come with an alma or the pillars.
It made me pause for thought as to how other former ex-pat kids from Brunei live, particularly those people who’ve got a mortgage. I don’t think any of us are going to get to live in a Bruneian and that makes me sad. It’s an often overlooked and underappreciated part of our upbringing. Those houses were so gaudy and white and gigantic. I miss them sometimes.