Affluenza – so hot right now

>Our 1980s-renovated 1960s worker’s cottage home is in a street of a well-established inner south Melbourne suburb. The turnover in houses around us since we moved in (2006) is remarkable. When we bought our house, there was one being constructed next door (and we lived next to this construction site for many months before the house was finished, and even then the landscaping didn’t happen for another half a year or so).

On the other side was an abandoned old worker’s cottage much like ours would’ve been before renovations. It was there for ages, then taken away and demolished. We liked living next door to a vacant lot.

A month ago, the vacant lot was invaded by builders and a new house is now almost done on that side, too.

The houses on both sides of us are double-storey (we’re only one level), rendered brick, off-the-plan jobs. They’re both HUGE. The one that’s going up now is even HUGER than the one on our other side. I find them both aesthetically offensive, and the new one is looming over our house in a really unpleasant way. It resembles a very large toilet block. I resent these houses because they’ve been built right to the edges of the allotment, which means both houses’ driveways verge on our property (as do their garages) and their living areas are about an arm’s length from our place. It’s intrusive and anti-social to be so greedy for internal space that your external space is minimised in this way. There’s a lot to be said for buffers between you and your neighbours. The other thing is that these houses aren’t huge because they have to cater for large families. The residents of the first one are a youngish couple; the other will have two adults and their young child. Hardly enough humanity to fill the bathrooms of those places.

Why do they feel they need for so much room? Is it purely a status thing – a ‘look at the size of my colonnade’ competition?

The word affluenza‘s been bandied about a lot recently, with a few books using it as their title, and someone even setting up The Affluenza Project. It’s what keeps floating into my head when I think of my neighbours. Feeling helpless in the face of ugly, encroaching architecture, I’ve been growing increasingly resentful of our neighbours’ inconsideration. They see their homes as culminations of their dreams. They feel that their double-storeyed contributions to our street enhance its value (they actually said this) and that we should be grateful (this was implied). Our house – extremely comfy and with all mod.cons – was considered merely “liveable” (by the 1st set of neighbours). We’re moderate consumers and, as with many folk, do our best on the conservation/recycling fronts (and could always do better). The blatant and high levels of consumption from both sides appall me. It indicates a lack of acknowledgement about caretaking our community/world/environment. I despise Green nazis with the best of them, but those who live so heavily do my head in as well.

A friend of mine said that people had passed comments about how ‘quaint’ or ‘difficult’ it must be for their (young) son and daughter to share a room. She laughs about it and talks about when she and her siblings shared a room till they were in their teens. I shared a room with my sibs till we were in our late teens. There’s nothing wrong with kids not having their own rooms – it’s not a natural entitlement. One facet of affluenza is the fraught notion of entitlement, or as LJ-speak expresses it (in highly sneering tones), acting like a snowflake (thinking themselves very special).

I need to get over the house-rage because it’s not like these monstrosities will be going anywhere soon.

Oh, one last rant: When neighbour #2 was planning his house, he actually asked the people behind us whether they would consider cutting down the gigantic, gorgeous elm tree that’s on our border (i.e. the tree was between us and the neighbours BEHIND us; it wasn’t on his border at all). He wanted it gone because the tree roots would mean he’d have to pay extra for root-barrier work. OMG! The gall of that request floors me still. This tree, 100s of years old, can be seen in Google Earth images of our suburb. And he wanted it destroyed for his convenience. @#$*(@)*!!

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8 thoughts on “Affluenza – so hot right now

  1. Kirsty 01/08/2008 / 9:19 am

    >Oh gourd! This is the kind of thing that enrages me too. One wonders if they would build to the border if your house was also a monstrosity built to the border? They’d probably have requested you knock a few walls down. If only all that money came with equivalent amounts of self-awareness. I do think that ‘entitlement’ is a key word here too.

  2. tseen 03/08/2008 / 11:44 pm

    >I try not to think about it too much because I have the ability to stew like a champion. My (architecty) sis said that if people were going to do this border-to-border living, it’s much better to be up front about it and have a row of houses built to be side-by-side, rather than things that are meant to be separate houses jostling each others’ eaves… I don’t want to be this close to either neighbour but we’re without choice!

  3. lbw 04/08/2008 / 5:17 am

    >What a nightmare. Must feel quite claustrophobic. Does it affect the sunlight entering your house? or create a wind tunnel effect?

  4. tseen 04/08/2008 / 5:34 am

    >Heya LBW – Wind tunnel: not sure yet; sunlight: not in a super-dramatic way (the house on the other side has already done that), but the view from our living areas is definitely compromised with the new house. A brick wall has v. limited aesthetic or soothing qualities, I find…

  5. Book Boy 05/08/2008 / 12:12 pm

    >Ummm i’m building at the moment, actually bout to demolish a house – now i’m worried. Though single story – is that ok??

  6. tseen 05/08/2008 / 11:48 pm

    >Oh, Book Boy, this is one of my current rants so that’s why it’s so loud… 😉 Added to this is the fact that our new neighbour is proving himself an utter wanker – totally not helping.The main things I have against McMansions are that:* they aren’t built to be energy efficient so these stupid high ceilings and cavernous rooms are blasted with a/c or heating all day long and take ages to heat/cool. The one that’s going up now is an el cheapo job and hasn’t bothered with double-brick or double-glazed windows. * They’re often UGLY (seriously, the one next door’s like a toilet-block).* They’re bloated in proportions and (I think) rudely overstep civil buffers between neighbours (e.g. the new house’s ‘entertainment area’ is a large roofed bit that ends less than a metre from our fence). I could go on ad infinitum (I know you know this).All that said – single-storey houses can still be monstrous but they’re rarely as intrusive as double (or triple!) storey ones.

  7. Lisa 06/08/2008 / 2:59 am

    >Oh dear, McMansions are bad enough, but ones next door with wankers living in them must be almost intolerable. Living in close proximity is an art. Might I suggest finding when his favourite sports programs are on and mowing or using a very loud blowervac for the duration?

  8. tseen 06/08/2008 / 5:24 am

    >Hi LisaYour suggestion is most excellent, but we are ham-strung by two things: 1) we have no grass to mow [S. has ousted almost all lawn – he hates the stuff], and 2) we have no blowervac [we have an old-fashioned rake 😉 ]. BUT we do have a baby who can be encouraged to be loud, and a dog…

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