I arrived in Melbourne not even knowing yet where I’d live. At first, therefore, I deemed it appropriate to check into a backpackers and start flat-hunting via the university notice boards and Gumtree. Neither of the two methods proved to be notably fruitful but, luckily, none of the two had to. After less then a week, with the help of friends of a friend who I met in Glasgow, not only did I meet up with a flat that was hunting for a new flatmate, but I also earned their approval.
That they decided to pick me must have been more due to a general unwillingness on their side to put more effort into the search as I have never been a person particularly skilled in making positive first impressions. However, suffering from a bad cold since I got to Melbourne, it only took me a few days to make a lasting impression on everyone in the house: I had lived up to the name of my people twofold as I spread my germs meticulously. Within days everybody was struck with flu, while only I was enjoying my convalescent stage and the viral immunity that came with it.
In regards to accommodation, I can only call myself lucky: it took me less than a week to get out of a hostel where I had been sharing a room with a guy from Manchester who was snoring so loudly that he woke himself up by doing so.
I also ended up with five housemates who are not only incredibly friendly, welcoming, and kind, but also interesting, cool, and helpful.
And then, of course, there is the actual house itself. A nice one-level bungalow with a garden and backyard. Though it is a bit noisy towards the street it is quite idyllic. It is also fabulously cheap, especially compared to what the university accommodation costs and what other students are paying. The location is, in my eyes, ideal.
Footscray is a suburb of the inner West that has a bad reputation with the people who don’t know it.
But in fact it is an amazing place to live. Close to the city, cheap and multicultural. The predominantly Vietnamese and Ethiopian community provide a good vibrant feel and an array of good opportunities to spend your money and time well. The northern part of Footscray is mostly influenced by its Asian population with vegetable markets, dumpling shops and little grocers. Towards the west the community is mainly Ethiopian and so sees a rise in cafés and clothing shops as well as graffiti and street art. It’s no more than thirty minutes into the city when cycling, or two train stops if you prefer public transport (at the moment it is still comparably cold and I can see the appeal of spending 15 minutes on a seat, reading or watching people. However, I can already predict that the Melbourne trams and public transport services will soon enough turn into a concoction of a Scandinavian Sauna, a Berlin Club, and the queue in front of a job centre in the Gorbals).
Footscray offers great markets for cheap and good quality fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood (Footscray Market, Little Saigon), good pubs and live venues (Dancing Dog, Reverence Hotel), nice cafés (Happy River Café, Guerilla, Milking Station), arts spaces (Trocadero, FCAC), op shops (Savers, Salvo’s), an amazing variety of restaurants (Roti Road, 8bar, Lentils As Anything), and, of course, “Olympic Doughnuts”.
Gentrification is visible all over Melbourne and does not stop at the Maribyrnong River. It is no risky bet to foresee a few more hipster places mushrooming in Footscray within the next year…
Any questions about Footscray, Melbourne or Australia? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or check out my blog for more: oneyearmelbourne.wordpress.com