In December 2020 I smugly barked on about excessive rental prices, the high cost of living, student loans, and never being able to enter the housing market - one brunch at a time. Then, without the help of the bank of mum and dad, I purchased a 52 square-metre apartment with my friend, who I had known for just three months at the time. I became a capitalist overnight.
It's all very insufferable especially amid a backdrop of extreme tragedy and sadness, which has plagued the world over in recent years. But to recap: my landlords told my flatmate and I a week before Christmas in 2020 that they were going to sell the apartment, leaving us until February 2021 to find a new home.
Absurdly, we thought it would be hysterical to try to buy the Wellington CBD apartment privately. What was initially a joke gone too far became a reality, until we almost lost out on securing a mortgage after the official valuation of the property came $20,000 under the purchase price. We had to front up with cash that we didn't have. I embodied my best "Karen" and requested to talk to every manager I could find. Come February it was a done deal. My performing arts degree had finally paid off.
Thanks to delicious Bernie at The Home Loan Shop we secured a 12-month fixed loan with an interest rate of about 3 per cent - or was it 2.5, I didn't pay enough attention. All I cared about was the fact the mortgage was about the same rate as rent. What a triumph!
After a meeting with delicious Bernie last week I'll be paying an extra $50 a week in mortgage repayments as we're now sitting at a fixed rate of 4.6 per cent for three years. Was it better to take a gamble and go for a lower interest rate for a year?
Projections suggest things are going to go south as a result of inflation. I'm disgusted to admit I've become Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I want a cheap interest rate and I want it now, daddy.
The value of the property has gone up dramatically but that means I have to alter my lifestyle of buying overpriced mugs, needless outings to K-Mart, soda stream bottles, Uber Eats, and superfluous miscellaneous items from Typo.
In contrast, the tighter loan-to-value restrictions as a result of changes to the Credit Contracts Consumer Finance Act have made me realise I was incredibly lucky to secure a mortgage. The changes that came into effect in December require all lenders to complete thorough checks to ensure loans are suitable and affordable for their customers.
It has made me question whether I needed to buy that mid-century knockoff cabinet for $95, which resulted in transportation costs of an additional $300 to get it from Tauranga to Wellington. Or those chairs that resemble a paperclip for your butt from AliExpress. Or constantly favouring cheese and other supermarket goods from my local dairy 20m away as opposed to venturing slightly yonder to the actual supermarket. I could go on.
There have been some other brutal financial pitfalls. Our washing machine resembles a 50-year-old diesel truck that can often be mistaken for an earthquake. There are the Wellington City Council rates - which are set to rise this year by 9.1 per cent - or the fees for airspace that come with having a balcony.
Residential car parks are so scarce and expensive that I haven't moved my car for the last three months. I've even contemplated hoarding one of the many cones that are sprawled haphazardly around the city.
The Body Corp is unsurprisingly brutal, but recently it's given rise to some legal questions I've been pondering. For fear of being slammed with a fine of up to $12,000, last week we had a health and safety meeting to discuss self-isolation requirements. It was decided that in the event anyone was sick we were allowed to go on the roof but had to wear a mask and gloves. Clothing wasn't specified.
We didn't discuss whether we should start to employ a QR code policy to visitors and we didn't verify whether all or any of the dwellers were vaccinated. Could landlords and AirBnB hosts be considered a business? And would I be living in my apartment for the next month only to be allowed on the roof in gloves, a mask, and potentially my birthday suit? As a millennial I've never been afforded so much responsibility and I dare say I don't love it.
Spending and frugality aside, a highlight over the past year has been making a true friend with my fellow dweller. We kicked off the relationship with a tight-knit property agreement that ensured we were to have bi-monthly check-ins over a glass of wine, or two, or three.
How we've laughed and laughed. When I first mentioned I had worked on the Russell McVeagh investigation into sexual assault he genuinely thought it was a new walking track in the greater Wellington region. If that doesn't put things into perspective, I don't know what does.
There was the time we tried to carry a three-person couch up four flights of stairs and realised the entire operation was fruitless. We looked at getting a crane to hoist it through the window. It stayed wedged along the walls of the second-floor hallway for a week.
Once I sprayed fertiliser on all of our plants thinking it was a misting spray and the smell lingered for about a month. There was a point where we both literally cried over spilt milk - in this case it was a bottle of lemon cordial. Just last week we went to yoga together - shock, horror - and were in fits of laughter after trying to harmonise the "om" at the end of the class.
We survived a lockdown without killing each other and no beloved mug has broken in the process. But best not to jinx it. One year down, 29 to go.