Friday, January 16, 2009

Pipe dreams

Back in the days when I really worked part time, I often downed tools after lunch and spent some quality time watching lifestyle shows with my sister - notably Grand Designs and other property type shows. Somewhere in that era, Nerida first broached the concept of the Uber-house.

The idea was to get ourselves a bit of land somewhere big enough to build 3 medium sized houses and a central building with the uber kitchen and entertaining space. This would house our family, Nerida and our mother and her partner. We fantasised about eco-friendly buildings, solar panels and a truly awesome kitchen. We even looked a little at land prices in a few places, but it mostly confirmed my suspicions that we would never find a location that would suit us all.

Then last week Nerida said that another two people were keen to opt in, and we all starting dreaming again. So whilst in the Hunter this past week, we looked again at land prices. What we found has fuelled all sorts of silliness. The prices are extraordinarliy low. I don't know whether this is everywhere, or whether there has been an excess of people investing in property up there on the back of market portfolios that are no longer sufficient security.

We don't really have a plan, and I suspect everyone has a slightly different vision of what the uber-house would be. But for me, the real question is whether I could really do this, should the myriad other issues be settled.

I am a city person, I like going to the pub on a regular basis. I like being within an affordable cab ride of the city for a show or good meal. But mostly I like being close to my friends. Moving bush scares the bejesus out of me. On the other hand, I hate the restrictions put on the kids' independence by the city. I am attracted to the possibilities of building and living sustainably, and especially of living slower.

There are a host of practical issues - education, making a living (although there is no shortage of theories on this one) and ultimately the balance sheet. But none of those concern me, if this is a Good Thing, all that stuff will resolve itself.

Would I be happy? I just can't imagine living more than a couple of hours from the people who are such an important part of our lives. But if it was within that zone, on the north side of Sydney, and we had guest accommodation (always a part of the uber-house plan), a social life would still be possible. My experience growing up in a country town after living in the city doesn't give me much hope of making real friends in the sticks. And that is a great concern for the kids. It would be awesome for them to be able to roam about on their own, but they need friends too. Or maybe we just keep recruiting like minded people and create our own commune. :)

This is very unusual for me, I normally make decisions in the blink of an eye. Hence the long, incoherent ramble. I am looking for a pattern in what I am writing, but all I am seeing is contradictions. I get more of the life I would like to live, but far away from the people I want to be with. The kids get more independence, but less people to find real friendship with.

Maybe we just need to make a squillion dollars so that we can buy a block or two in a leafy suburb...


  1. Either that or invent a teleporter. Then we could set up the commune anywhere we liked - oh, yes, we'd so be coming too under those circumstances :)

    Here, have a letter: G

  2. It is no suprise you can't make a quick decision on this one, it would be a huge move...but sounds like a great idea. I too, have fantasised about acreage in the countries, with my sister and our families, horses, lots of space ... but we too are city slickers at heart and so used to access to and choice of education, entertainment, etc.. Maybe, one day.