A Trial Period For Home Owners

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I have a friend (weird, given that I’m a ginger). Let’s call him Rodney. Some years back Rodney bought his very first home. It was a modest two-bedroom flat in a large complex near Midrand. We all rejoiced because he was the first of our friends to own his own place.

As it turns out the neighbour to his left had a fondness for loud mid-week parties; his upstairs neighbour had a penchant for the type of adult-themed fun that you pay for by the hour; and somewhere in his complex was the creepy old guy who always wanted to borrow money. Add to that frequent power outages due to building in the area and a few break ins, and Rodney’s first foray in to the property market was short-lived.

I’ve started to think that a trial period would be a brilliant idea for homeowners. You stay in a home for a few weeks and if you like the place, you move in. If you discover it’s built on a fault line, near an old pet cemetery or have Jack The Ripper as your neighbour, you go somewhere else. Logistics aside it is a pretty good idea. There are some things you will only discover once you have spent a bit of time in a home.

Once we’d moved in we found out that our neighbour chain-smokes and as a result coughs as if she were trying to be louder than a jackhammer. We also have a resident cat that tries his luck with every female; a ginger Lothario who makes a nuisance of himself. He makes me angry but I shouldn’t be too upset. It’s not often you see ginger males with that much confidence around the opposite sex.

My folks live on a main road and I don’t ever recall being bothered by the traffic. On a recent visit I slept in my old room and lay wide awake as cars sped up and down. You’d think they stayed on a drag strip. I am convinced that you’ll get more rest in economy class on a budget airline. Yet my parents don’t seem bothered. As a child I had ear problems and probably couldn’t hear the cars all that well. I must have been desensitised by the time I was a student. Or too hung-over to notice.

I highly doubt that a trial period for home ownership will ever be a reality and this leaves us with two options. You either have to give yourself enough time to get used to the idiosyncrasies of your new dwelling; or learn to develop coping mechanisms. I am inclined towards the latter. For example, I don’t say anything when our neighbour’s kid blows the car horn in the driveway late at night. I just make a mental note to make as much noise as possible when I leave the house at 5am.

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