Wendy’s story

It all began with a burst of energy that took me completely by surprise. Within a few days  I had contacted a women’s help group, got advice from a Legal Aid lawyer,  organised a Sole Parent Pension,  found a place to live, enrolled my fifteen year old ( youngest of four children) in a new school, told the family and close friends and started to pack!. The reason behind my life changing move was a much longer story! Suffice to say I wanted out of a twenty five year very difficult and mostly unhappy marriage. On reflection, I have no doubt at all; this out of character behaviour was a result of recently fired up midlife hormones.  Hot flushes, it seemed were a signal to change my life!

And so began a nomadic life; to date I have “upped sticks” ten times in twenty two years! When I first moved, I had no car, furniture or white goods. My youngest daughter, almost sixteen came with me, which meant I qualified for a Sole Parent Pension for seven months. In addition, I was studying  at university externally and part time and about to commence my first “prac” or work experience in the town I was moving to.

  1. Home number one – after moving from a small country town to a regional centre.

Found in a local newspaper;  a  lovely semi furnished  two story unit/granny flat on a private property, overlooking the town and close to the beach. Affordable (in 1994) at $100 per week excluding power bill;  no fixed term lease. It became not so affordable when changing from pension to Job Search after seven months. I managed to find a bed and a  washing machine. Then, after nine months, the owners of the property asked me to move as they wanted to put one of their children in the unit.

  1. Home number two

I was fortunate to know a few people in the town and one asked me to house-sit for 3 months. This helped a lot as I was now on Job Search and looking for work. My daughter had moved to Perth by then. One of my friends wanted to sell her small old car and I managed to get a $1,500 loan from Centrelink by persuading them I needed a car to travel to work.

  1. 1995 – Home number three

I made contact with a housing cooperative nearby and went regularly to their meetings. I was fortunate to obtain a house there within a few months. The rent was 25% of my gross income and we all managed the collective ourselves. This took quite a lot of effort and time. I looked after the rent books. During this period I kept up my Library Technician studies and eventually found full time work in the profession mainly due to contacts I had made prior to moving to this new town. I had a HECS debt to pay off which now started to be deducted from my pay. My living arrangement was very successful until 2001, when the organisation became dysfunctional due to much infighting. After several attempts at mediation, several of us decided to move out of town. I had, in the meantime been offered a semester’s work in a private school library in Perth and decided that would be a good move to be closer to my immediate family.

  1. 2001 Home number four

On moving to Perth, I moved in with my daughter and granddaughter for a short period and house-sat  for a few weeks. My job finished at the end of 2001 and I had to live on my meagre savings as I wasn’t eligible for a Centrelink benefit.

  1. 2002 Home number five

After several months of looking for work I found a short  contract  job in a university library at the start of semester one and an affordable rental not far from my new job. The job did not offer the security of extension and as the time drew closer  I found another job in a school library for a term. Prior to finishing this contract, I was offered another contract at the previous university. Meanwhile, after a couple of years,  I was a given rent rise which was very annoying as I had improved the gardens and was a good tenant. I decided to rent another place nearby which was more affordable.

  1. 2004 Home number six

I stayed here until I had difficulties with a son who was on drugs and it  became unsafe. By this time I had several health problems and was now working part time with a view to retiring soon.

  1. 2007 Home number seven

I moved in with my daughter who had a horse property in Perth Hills.  After a couple of years we all moved to a different property. Both places were a very long distance from my job and the travel was 2 hours per day. Rents were very high in Perth at  this stage and I couldn’t afford them on a part time wage. Living with my daughter was becoming difficult, even though I did regular house-sitting.

  1. 2011 Home number eight

Rents were sky high in Perth at this stage and I was working part time while living with my daughter. So rental was not an option. By now I could access my superannuation at age 65. I bought a park home as the site lease was affordable. A big mistake, even though the owners told me they had no intention of selling the park in the near future. After four years they decided to sell, giving us a year’s notice.

Here is the story of the park home:


  1. 2015 Home number nine

By this time I was retired. I moved to a granny flat  with an amazing landlord who helped me with my park home removal. This rental was affordable on a pension and what was left of my superannuation.

  1. 2016 Home number ten (present)

I decided to look around for another place as rents were coming down and my volunteer work was in the Perth Hills; a long way from where I was living.  I have been here in a lovely granny flat surrounded by bush land for a year. However, the owners are selling  the property and I will be moving again!

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5 thoughts on “Wendy’s story

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  1. Yes, how many of us mirror this story one way or another. We became itinerant when we went solo, and have had various journeys since then. We imagine that the next change will solve the problem, only to be moved on, either by being evicted because the owner wants the property back, or because we lose work and have to move on or default. And of course, retraining doesn’t actually help because age and gender discrimination exist at ALL levels of the workforce. It just gives us hope that we might start to feel safe some day.

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