'I’ve owned a property for 8 months. Here are the 5 things no one tells you.'

In 2021, at the age of 30, I ticked off a huge life goal: I bought my first home.

By home I mean apartment. And by bought, I mean half bought with my partner. And we had a sprinkle of help from The Bank of Mum and Dad, aka Australia’s ninth-biggest mortgage lender, just so we're keeping it transparent. 

The actual buying part was hard. I wrote about how hard, here.

Watch: 5 money lessons your parents told you, that you should probably forget...

Video via Mamamia.

But fast-forward eight months and I've been the proud owner of a two-bedroom Sydney apartment for a good chunk of the year.

Here are five things that no one tells you.

1. The previous owners don't have to leave your place... clean.

You know how you have to fork out for an 'end of lease' clean when you vacate a rental? I mean, you can try to do it yourself, but those cleaning inspections are strict. The place has to be spotless.

It turns out when you buy a place, the previous owners can leave it in whatever state they see fit. Sometimes they might leave surprises; like the broken washing machine we found hidden beside our carpark AFTER we'd done our final inspection on settlement day. Had we found it before, we might've been able to get them to remove it. But once we had signed on the dotted line - it was all ours. Including our broken washing machine. 

When we walked into our place with the keys for the first time, there was a grime over everything. Nothing too hectic, but it was not like walking into a sparkling clean rental that's been prepared for your arrival. 

I am very happy. But this is just a tad gross.  


We got a cleaner in ourselves quick-smart. But it did take away that initial 'wow look at our new place' vibe I'd been envisioning when I walked through our front door for the first time.

Nothing like a million dirty removalist footprints and some soap scum to bring you back to reality. 

2. Fixing things is expensive. 

As a renter, I took it for granted that we could call a real-estate agent and have them fix things for free. 

Broken dishwasher? Give em a call.

Toilet having a plumbing issue? Give em a call.

Mould? Broken blinds? Give em a call.

And then a wallet would open somewhere and *poof*, the things would be fixed and I'd be on my merry way.

Hi Sharon, my toilet is broken. Can you fix? Thx.  


That shit is expensive. Not to mention time-consuming, because you've got to track down a relevant trade and make sure they're giving you a competitive price, blah blah blah. 

No. No thankyou. I unsubscribe from this part of home-ownership.

3. Why are there so many bills?!

Water bills. Strata bills. Council bills. WHEN WILL THEY STOP. 

After a decade of just power and gas bills this is confronting. 

4. Renovations are not fun. 

Coming up with renovations ideas is fun. Executing said ideas is... not fun. 

For one, I don't think I realised how EXPENSIVE renovating is. A few light replacements and a couple of fan installations is going to set me back a few thousand bucks. 

Paint is expensive. Landscaping is expensive. Blinds are expensive. 

Replacing our floorboards is not as expensive as I feared. But I have to apply to my building's strata, pay for a Zoom call to plead my case, and wait for their approval before I even touch it. 

Oh wait. I need to get approval. And my preferred builder is not available for three months. And I might need  


Why. Is. Everything. So. Complicated.

In the movies, renovations are done in days. Click of a finger and there's a brand spanking new space. But renovations are slow and trades are hard to navigate if you've never used them before and have NO idea what you should be paying. 

This ain't The Block where things get done overnight.

5. I have a sense of pride in my place that was... unexpected. 

You know how a parent is allowed to bitch about their child, but if anyone else even WHISPERS a critique, they're sin-binned?

That's how I feel about my home. 

My sister came to see the place and stay a few nights. She's from the country. I live on a busy road. She didn't sleep. I was mortified. Even though she was very polite and just asked if she could perhaps borrow some earplugs, I felt personally attacked. Even though I recall turning to my partner on the first night in our new place wide-eyed at just how clearly I could hear the buses outside our bedroom window. 

But they are my buses. And it's my noisy apartment.

I am nesting in a way I've never nested before. Every new 'corner' I design or spruce up I obsessively share pictures of with my poor loved ones. 

The sense of achievement I am feeling is...immense. 


Now that the stress of actually buying the place has dissipated, I just feel so PROUD. It's sickening. 

You can keep up to date with Gemma Bath's articles here, or follow her on Instagram,   @gembath.

Feature image: Gemma Bath.

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