Owning a Crack Den

For those reading who’ve stumbled across this post and haven’t read the previous one, give it a quick read first then come back here. It provides context to the following story.

So I’ve just bought my first property with my little egg of savings from my time in Melbourne and now I’m babysitting my infant New Zealand bank account containing $0 and my obese mortgage that sucks directly from my non-existent bank balance.

My first crisis was that my mortgage is paid fortnightly (every two weeks for American readers) and the rent paid by my tenants was paid into my bank account monthly from my new property manager.

So on the 15th of October my brand new account fell hundreds of dollars below zero (because of the first automatic mortgage payment) and when I woke up the next morning I was greeted with an email from the bank written in all red letters.

Needless to say I panicked and ran around and freaked out all day until I could finish work and call my bank within New Zealand work hours; or far too late at night where I was in the world.

I explained to Westpac my situation and begged at their feet for mercy.

Luckily they show mercy the first time you screw up, but promised to come down with the might of Thor if it ever happened again.

Well I quickly moved money across from my work account and brought the balance back up to zero while I waited anxiously for the 1st of November for my first month of rent to pay me and push my account into positive digits for the very first time.

Time was slow but eventually the 1st came…. then it went.

I had sent money again over to New Zealand because yet again the mortgage had to be paid. But I was optimistic that it was all about to be worth it.

I opened my account on the 1st..

$0

The 2nd came…..

$0

The 10th came….

$0

I called my property manager panicking, she told me that she’d received no money from the tenant.

She had sent them several letters asking them to pay but they had been ignored. She asked if I thought she should go over and ask for the money in person..

I nearly dropped my phone as I spluttered down the phone at her to get my money!!

Things were not working out as well as I had hoped, so in the meantime I sent more money over to New Zealand knowing that the mortgage would be taken right on time on the 15th whether I could pay it or not.

The 15th came and went and the mortgage was sucked right out on time but nothing had come back in.

My manager called me back and informed me that the tenant was gone and the doors had been broken down by a police battering ram.

My tenant was a wanted fugitive who had been charged with drug possession and trafficking and the police had finally caught up with him.

I nearly passed out, then nearly downed in a pool of my own anxiety sweat.

Eventually he was found and charged and put on probation.

He was working somewhere in the district and now living on his brothers couch so my manager paid me his rent out of her own pocket, then took him to court to reimburse herself.

I got my first rent payment! Things were turning around.

That is until the next tenant moved in.

She signed the lease as a single person with no pets.

My manager inspects and sends me photos of a house full of ‘Disney’s Frozen’ blankets, toys, dog hair, men’s bathroom necessities and mattresses leaning against every wall.

The place just looked sticky, and I couldn’t imagine what it must have smelled like.

She didn’t pay her rent either (shock) and we got rid of her. Five more un-paying tenants went in and out and I replaced the doors (police battering ram) three more times until I decided to throw more money at the house and do it up properly.

I re-carpeted the entire house. The carpet was crack-den quality so it all had to go.

My grandmother made new curtains for the place that matched the new carpet and I had it all cleaned.

I ripped up the yard and re-did it and replaced the fence.

The place completely turned around, and almost like magic the people who started applying to live there were people who paid rent and weren’t on the run from the police.

The place has turned around and become much easier to own, but having a house in a small town has far too many small town challenges when you don’t live there so even though things are better now, I’ve decided to sell the house.

Luckily for me, late in 2015 almost by accident I bought my second property right on the tale end of the glorious Wild West days that came to a crashing end in mid 2016..

The Wild West Day’s of New Zealand Property

For those of you who read the blog way waaaay back in the day, and have a robotically good memory, you may recall that in 2014 I bought a house in New Zealand and in 2015 I bought a second one.

I’m not rich by any stretch, I’ve never been given anything and I’m not even a particularly good saver; but there is a story, and this is how it went down.

For an 8 month stretch in 2013 between working for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line I was working as a salesman for an insurance company.

During this time I lived in a hooker den apartment (no real hookers, but the paint was peeling, tiles were all coming loose and the bathroom lightbulb was pink….)

It’s since been demolished, but while I lived there the rent was super cheap and I was making bank commissions because even though I hate being a salesman, I’m really good at it.

Anyway, I was making lots of money and was depressed because I wasn’t performing; my only happiness was knowing that I was saving as the previous few years I’d been in university and America was dirt poor from both experiences.

So I relished in refreshing my bank account that was healthy for the very first time in my life.

On really sad days I’d open my bank app and just sit there clicking the total sum figure on the app home page and refresh the balance and see it confirmed that yep, I’d saved more than $12.

Anyway, 8 months into the year I was cast by Disney Cruise Line and was back in America but not depressed anymore, so I figured (and rightly) that I would blow any money I earned there.

Cruise ship employees that work Disney Cruise Line hours lose their minds and blow their money like crazy.

So before I could do anything with it I used all of it as a deposit in a house in Wairoa, a small town in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

I’m an Australian citizen born and raised, so why did I buy in New Zealand?

In those days, New Zealand was sizzling hot for investors. Back in what I like to call the “Wild West” days, New Zealand had curiously lax investment laws which had fostered a free for all bananza.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand had no stamp duty (an enormous tax) and at the time had no capital gains tax.

It was tax heaven, and even without a New Zealand tax number (an IRD number) someone like me could swoop in and pick up one of the extremely reasonably priced properties that were ripe for the plucking.

Those were the days..

So even though I was a cast member on a cruise ship in Canada, buying a property in a country I’d only holidayed in felt like a smart idea and something that wouldn’t be hard.

Well I was wrong about the hard part, but it was possible.

Without so much as a New Zealand bank account, tax number, nothing; I put an offer on and bought a falling down 2 bedroom house in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful countryside.

The process was very long.

I included a 12 week settlement as a condition of the sale because I was on a ship and in Canada, and thank God I did. In those days most forms needed to be physically signed, so I was back and forth to the post office physically mailing forms I had printed off my ship computer, signed and put into a first class envelope.

Several forms had to be witnessed by someone from a very short list of trusted officials, only one of which lived in Canada.

Originally I had printed the list of trusted people which mentioned ‘lawyers’ as people who were trusted by the New Zealand Government. So I had my law trained friend on the ship sign my form and sent it in.

It was after sending that form that I was informed that a lawyer could only be trusted if they were certified by the New Zealand Government and living in New Zealand.

So it was back to the list.

The only person on the list I could conceivably get was the Consulate General in Vancouver.

So out of necessity I was also back and forth between the ship and the New Zealand Consulate in Vancouver where I’d visit the Consulate General who’d sign and stamp all my forms.

She did all of them for $20 which at the time felt fair, only years later did I learn while applying for my Chinese visa that this price is insanely low and she was probably just being a super nice person.

I only just made my 12 week settlement and within 16 or 20 weeks it was all over.

I was now broke but owned my first property; a property quite far away from anywhere I’d ever been in New Zealand.

I had emails that confirmed that I owned it, the woman who sold me the property had signed on to manage it, and I had a fresh, never been touched bank account that was hitched up to my sparkly new mortgage.

I had about a week of bliss before the shit met the kiwi flavoured fan..

The Sticky Couch in the Small Town

Noosa is melting my face off.

Why is it that everyones parents live in a small town? Some of my most city loving, hip, forward thinking, corporate type friends that only have friends in big city type places – have parents in small towns.
I dunno, but it forces me to come back here fairly regularly and I’m always faced with those moments when everyone is carrying out their lives and your stuck alone thinking “how did this happen?”

Because of course when you visit somewhere, your only visiting! Your on vacation and have no worries, whereas the people living here have been caught in the middle of their everyday lives and are expected to fit you in.
So because of this, there are those hours every so often that everyones either working or busy, and your left alone. It’s never anywhere good either, it’s on a couch in someones living room. It won’t be a hot day, but only in this living room its 1000 degrees and the couch is becoming one with your back. It’s only really when I’m super hot, my clothes are dirty, and I’m alone in a small town that I really re-evaluate my life.
Even if everything in my life is perfect! I’ll still re-evaluate. “I have a job for Disney that has me travelling the world entertaining and pays for all my expenses …. Where did I go wrong?” I dunno, it puts me in a weird state of mind.
Although my job has a lot of pitfalls, not that anyone will hear about it. Everyone thinks I’m a terrific douche whenever I complain, because the good parts of the job are so loud, they can’t understand that anythings bad.
I’ll say “the hours are long, I really want the job that my job promotes into but its not happening, the job can be really frustrating.”
But all anybody hears is “I live in Miami, I’m a jet-setter, I can go to Disneyland for free giggle giggle giggle I’m a douche.”

I’m aloud to have problems too! Does anyone out there have problems that no-one will acknowledge? Because I can’t be the only one. Yes I’m going to the Magic Kingdom this saturday, but in a couple weeks I start working 75 hour weeks again, don’t you think something might be bad?
I’ve gotta say though, if I ever get promoted into the job that I want, I’ll never complain again. (errrr lie).

You should have seen the look on the guys face in the games shop today. He asked me if I wanted to subscribe to the gamer magazine I was buying a copy of, and I said no because I’m living and working in America at the moment, so I’ll just get the American one.
——- His face read “what a self entitled model of a douche”
So from now on I’m just gonna say — “no”. Easy

But here I am at the end of it all, at my parents place with the most constant and reliable part of my life. The sticky couch in the small town. I’ve got 3 more days here and then I’m off, so can you stand my complaining until then? I sure hope so.

I hope you guys have had an awesome day, please message me as some of you are, I’m really enjoying chatting with you. Subscribe and chat and I’ll see you real soon!