Sunday, June 9, 2019

11 Oz years (part 1)

In 13 days, I would have survived 11 full years Down Under. A lot has happened in these life-changing years and I must have known that would be the case back in 2008 and that must have been why I started this blog to document this new life. Now that so many years have passed, I'm not sure if I can still call this "The Next Phase" but I guess since I'll always remain an outsider to some degree and not feel 100% home regardless of how long I've been here, that name will stay that way. The next few posts (the entire series is here: 1 2 3 4) are not meant to be a detailed summary but a means to convey my current state of mind, which is a direct result of these 11 Oz years. Coincidentally, the themes all begin with the letter "H".


Hate

Even after being in Australia for more than a decade, I still don't identify with a lot of Australian practices e.g. sports obsession and beer-drinking, just to name a few. Moving from a country where your race forms the majority coupled with government policies favouring your race to one totally opposite did take some getting used to. One major thing I needed to get used to is racism, which is simply hate borne out of irrational ignorance.

When I was living in Sydney, I'd get screamed at on the streets and on public transport. Although that hasn't happened to me (yet) in Melbourne (though I've seen it happen to others), in both cities, I experienced inferior service standard because of my race from some people who make it really obvious to treat white folks better right in my face. Over these 11 years living in Australia, I also sometimes felt slightly "off" at work where you kind of knew you didn't get that job or promotion  you wanted because of your race but could never ever prove it.

Perhaps the bulk of racist episodes nowadays come from the online world which is a realm where hate-filled people who can't bring their ideas to the mainstream find it so easy to broadcast their venomous words. Personally, one of the best things that came from online racism is my feature on DNA magazine (you can find out more about that experience here and read the DNA feature here). Racism targetted at me is like a workout for my skin for it trains it to be thicker and now I can say I'm bullet-proof to racism, online or otherwise. For new migrants though, it's a seriously difficult thing to grapple with and might even break or worse still turn them violent. Imagine you've just arrived and trying hard to assimilate by getting online and encounter this:


By the way, the above are but a handful of online hate I've received (on "Grindr", "Gaydar" and "Scruff" from top to bottom). Nowadays I always report profiles that say "no Asians" just to make myself feel better even though I know this achieves nothing. I guess this is my feeble attempt to "fight back" knowing that you can't really fight effectively from a minority position. You know, I really should write a song with all that I've copped these 11 years and turn all this negativity into something positive. So watch this space, a new composition will be penned I promise you!

In this increasingly polarised world where immigration policies get corrupted by racism, laws of the land get applied unfairly along racial lines, and opportunities are not given equally to all, we should at least do what we can within our power to stop race-based hate. If you have these thoughts, just keep them to yourself and not be overt about it. Tell people what you like instead of what you hate. Live and let live and the anger you could potentially avoid is going to do wonders on your life expectancy.


House-Hunting

As you know I'm very frugal in my ways and many people have wondered why I've not bought any properties if money matters that much to me as they are a shoo-in in the investment world. My friends feel even stranger seeing I could easily afford the purchase. To be honest, I think it's fear and being too comfortable where I'm currently at. I'm also a very risk-averse person and someone who hates regretting so I don't like to make big decisions. The last one I did was to move to Australia but that didn't cause any regret (so far). Even though housing prices have dropped recently, they are still way overpriced because the housing boom before the drop have pushed prices to sky-high levels. This just means there should always be an ever-growing urgency pressing me to buy right? Surely there's no more reason for any further inaction after having delayed this for much of these 11 years right?

I currently have the majority of my cash stashed in a 5-year term deposit which was something I did to delay the eventuality of buying. I know I know, you must all be thinking what a fool I am but I shall remain foolish not much longer because I've made up my mind that 6 months before the term deposit matures in September 2022, I'd start my property research. Knowing me, I'll go super in-depth to make sure I minimise the chances of any regret. The resistance to buy all these years is also largely due to the inevitable need for this arduous research.

I've been told the best property-type to buy would be houses as they come with land and they must have at least three bedrooms to make rental income substantial. Another major factor in the research would be location and so "growth areas" need to be picked. As I don't drive, the location needs to not be too far from the metro area and accessible by public transport so that I can go and inspect it now and again. This imposes a size limit on the houses I can buy. I know I'd be like a helicopter parent always hovering above my babies. I know I wouldn't be able to help it! I'm not sure if my OCD character is conducive for any form of investment but it's sure not helping.

My plan is to buy two houses outright and rent them out. With the no-mortgage passive income, I'll then transition into part-time engineering work by age 45 and then fully retire by 50. From my friend's experience, although rental income from his two houses after all costs are deducted is much lower than what I expected, it's still enough for me not to work because I'm such a spendthrift. I just hope the recent interest rate cut and the future planned cuts all fail to stem property prices from continuing to drop. With any luck, the market would have cooled to absolute zero by the time I swoop in for the kill. We can always hope.


I'll be talking about two other topics in the second post of this series which will shed more light on how these 11 Oz years have shaped my life, so watch out for it.

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