12 February 2008

What to do???

We have a small problem in the Gardner-Sullivan household. What might that small problem be you might ask? Well I'll tell you what the small problem might be. The small problem is actually a huge problem in so much that James and I are being faced with a hard decision as to where we should live. Ever since my little hospital stay up in Sydney we have realised that living in our quaint, quiet, beautiful home may not be sustainable at this point in time.

We moved to Tasmania a little over three years ago after spending six years in the buzzing metropolis called Sydney. James lived in and around Sydney all of his life and that is of course where I met him. We stayed in Sydney during the time in which I was awaiting the outcome of my application for permanent residency in Australia. Once approval was received on the application we felt like we could finally move forward, as we didn't feel like we were able to do such up to that point, because if the application had not been approved I would have had to go straight back to the US within 28 days of the applications rejection. We lived with that fear for quite some time and because of that fear we never felt like we could make plans. We dreamed a lot but never made any solid plans.

Shortly after the application was approved we started looking at our options. A few months before the application was approved we took a short trip down to Tasmania. I had never been and James had not been there in over ten years. I don't know what it was about this place but as soon as we started over the bridge that you have to cross over to drive into Hobart, I knew this was a good place. It just felt right. The more we looked around and during the time that we spent in Hobart the more we knew that this was the place that we needed to be.

We started to look for a house in earnest and we had many to choose from. We also were being very picky. As I said there are a lot of beautiful old homes in Hobart, many of which date back to the 1800's. The houses exude old world charm and add to the quaint atmosphere that surrounds the city and for the matter in every town in Tasmania. One of the key selling points along with the homes was the slow and even pace in Hobart compared to the constant buzz found in Sydney. It is only natural that there be a difference between the to cities seeing that Sydney has over 4 million people compared to Tasmania in which the entire state only has roughly a tenth of the population at around 400,000 people. Nearly half of those people live in and around Hobart proper at a population of 200,525. Based on those numbers I think you can start to get a picture of the differences between the buzz of Sydney and the slow quiet pace that is Hobart.

After four months of looking through real estate guides and making a few more trips back to Hobart merely to search for and to look at houses we found this one. James had flown down to Hobart on a Thursday and I stayed in Sydney with friends from out of town. There were a few houses James had arranged to look at while he was there, and they all looked promising. I got a call from James around lunch time and during that call he told me that none of the houses had been right for one reason or another. He was going to see one more in the afternoon and if that wasn't right he would be back in the morning. I had in the meantime been looking some more on the internet real estate sites and had found one more house that we had not previously seen. This house was just listed with the agent James happened to be using while he was in Hobart. I said why not ask if you can see the place and sure enough the agent said no problem. The house had only been on the market for a week and she hadn't even thought about showing it to James as it was such a new listing she had basically overlooked it. Anyway, long story short I get a call back from James after he sees the house and he says book a flight and get down here first thing in the morning so we can look at the house together. I did, we did and by 7:00 pm that next night we owned our new house.

Moving to Hobart was a huge move for us on so many levels. It was a really big move for James as it would be the first big move for him from Sydney. James easily found a job and we settled in quite nicely. This was our first foray into suburbia and we had no idea what to expect. The last three years we have grown into this house and we have made it a home. We know a few neighbors but we didn't really come here to make neighborly connections. I mean it's fine if we do but I don't need to be best friend with the people next door to make my life complete. We made a few new friends who became very close friends over the next few years. Going out to dinner never found us in a situation where the staff at the restaurant were trying to rush you out so that they could seat the next table. We never have trouble finding a table when we go out for breakfast and once again we don't have people staring over our shoulders waiting to take our table. The local produce, food and wines are some of the best in the world. The air is clean as is the water. All in all this place is pretty damn near perfect, and that is where the needle scratches across the surface of this story.

The problem is there are not enough if no services avaiable to handle the growing population. The biggest area to lack services is in the area of medicaine, doctors, hospitals, etc. The hospital James works at is the largest one on the island but is it is grossly understaffed and unable to cope with its burden. As for it's ability to offer James a challenging work place the only challenge is dealing with the shortcoming and lack of resources. Now you may be starting to see where I'm heading with this drawn out post. You see with the fact that I am and have been HIV+ for the past 21+ years I occasionally need to be able to access appropriate medical services when needed and in some cases that may mean almost immediately. During our recent experience with regards to the treatment of my peripheral neuropathy we discovered that the medical field here in Tasmania is unable to accommodate my needs either through service availability, rapid response time and or a combination of both. Living in Sydney that was never an issue.

Our problem as for what to do is just that, what are we going to do. We love this house/home. We love the quaint gentle approach that we are able to take in everyday life. We love that changes of seasons, along with the temperate weather it brings. Basically we love living unhurried. So now we are in a dilemma as to where we might live and how to go about this transition wth out losing the kind gentle life we have created and at the same time move back into the sprawling landscape which is Sydney.

We do have a few things that work in our favour and those being that we own this home mortgage free and we still own out apartment in Sydney also mortgage free. Let me state from the start we have no intention of moving back into our old apartment. That will not happen! We don't plan on selling either place. We also don't want a new mortgage even though the rentals from both places could easily pay the mortgage on a new house. We just don't want to be saddled again with debt. We could at least rent some a nice big place and pay the rental with the rents that we receive. So again you say what's the problem well in the end the only real problem is we love this home and having to leave it is turning our world upside down.



Nathan said...

Tough spot to be in.

In one scenario, you are rolling the dice by staying in Tasmania because you know the hospital is not so good. But looking at it optimistically, you could go for the next 366 days (since it's a leap year) without any problems at all. So in that case, you'd be so much happier staying in the nice little town you enjoy so much.

In the other scenario, you live in the big city, close to a hospital. You feel more secure, but life is way too frantic and there is too much hustle. So even though you feel closer to healthcare, you might spend 200 days out of the year fighting crowds, long waits, etc. That only leaves 166 days of happiness compared to 366.

I tend to dislike the idea of planning around illness. I know other people who have done this, and I feel like when they expect sickness to come, it will show up everytime. Even if it's sub-conscious, I feel like we become the things we fear the most.

Now I realize that's just one way to look at it, and don't want to discount the very real struggles you face by not being close to a good hospital. It could be a life or death situation if the hospital is understaffed.

I'm just saying it's a matter of planning for more good days per year vs. planning for illness to be right around the corner :)

Lewis said...

Maybe decide if the health issues are going to be time limited and end at some point or if they are going to continue throughout your lives. For me, life must be simple. In as many respects as humanely possible. I can't do drama, things that require huge time commitments, complicated issues/matters, deal with people or situations that suck the life out of me, and definitely couldn't commute to my job or health care or anything that may require it. But it sounds like you're happy to be out of the city too. Which would be easier? Which more difficult? What is the worst thing that will happen to you if you stay where you're at? How about the worst thing if you moved to the city?
I don't envy these types of tough decisions.

Ur-spo said...

dear me
what a dilemma
i don't suppose you have an instant tranporter device that allows you to go to syndey in a mere second?

all kidding, follow your intuition and the rest will be OK; going with the safe route, driven by fear, usually doesn't work out anyway.

tornwordo said...

Maybe you could find another medium sized town that has better infrastructure.

seymour said...

Start dating a qantas steward, then qualify for free flights to the mainland!
As an ex tassie boy, I understand what you're going through. I miss the gentle pace of HoGood luck how bart and the friendly communicative spitit of the city.
But theres no way I would risk my well being on the Tasmanian hospital system.
Best of luck for whatever happens.

Moys said...

Some good advice there!
At the end of the day, you and James will weigh up all the advantages/disadvantages and make the right decision. You always do. Food for thought anyway.

CJ said...

Men are supposedly more decisive and your in a loving relationship. So I'm sure the two of you will find a resolution soon. It sounds like a lovely place. Even Sydney seems nice compared to Houston. Be thankful for what you have and for the choices.