Escape plan: Get a job – 5

This post comes to you from Adelaide, where we’ve been house- and dog-sitting in the lovely inner-southern suburb of Unley for the past four weeks. Paul and Banjo joined Kim here at the start of October, after we decided against Paul staying on in Mildura to work until Kim found a job in Adelaide. Weighing up accommodation costs, living five hours’ drive apart and the increasing heat (39 degrees in early October… not ideal for sleeping/living in a camper trailer!) against the three or four days’ work per week that Paul might get, we decided that it made sense for him to come to Adelaide, where we’d have no accommodation costs and would be in close proximity to the CBD for job-hunting (albeit temporarily).

Where we’d struggled to find one or two jobs per day that we could apply for in Mildura/the Riverland, we both had a multitude of options in Adelaide, so quickly established a daily routine of running the dogs, spending the morning searching and applying for work, then enjoying the afternoon getting to know Adelaide and around. There are a LOT of labour-hire agencies in Adelaide, and although much of the agency advertising was clearly ‘list-building’, we applied for every casual/fixed-term role we found. As usual, Paul had success more quickly than Kim, and after only two or three days of applying was attending agency interviews and inductions. This would keep him busy for another week or so, before he was interviewed and was successful for a casual stores role; after a mad rush to complete and submit the much-requested (but maddeningly bureaucratic, difficult and expensive to obtain!) ‘DCSI clearance’, he started the next day (last Wednesday) and has been working full time (and some overtime) since.

There seemed to be fewer agency jobs in Kim’s field, and after three weeks of writing cover letters, expressions of interest and responses to key selection criteria she was feeling like she’d never get a gig. However, the Universe suddenly delivered an embarrassment of riches on the job front for her: having applied directly for a couple of fixed-term contract roles in higher education, and pushing to get a face-to-face interview with the agency she’d worked for in Melbourne and Ballarat, she scored two interviews, a second interview and a temp assignment all within a few days, and was then faced with having to choose… a pleasant dilemma indeed! After much deliberation and discussion, we agreed that temping work would be the best option; even if that proves to be sporadic over the next couple of months, Paul’s job is at least up until Christmas (and looks likely to go beyond that) – cash flow won’t be an issue. So with Paul gainfully employed and Kim confirmed to start work on Monday (and both of us still getting calls from agencies), we can breathe easy, knowing that we have money coming in again…

As a result of this latest job-hunting process (and with our previous experiences in mind), though, we’ve come to the conclusion that unless we’re house-sitting (or staying with generous family and friends!), both of us working at the same time isn’t ideal, and can in fact end up being less cost-effective than just one of us working full time! Although we’re well set up to free-camp (ie we can be self-sufficient in terms of our power and water needs), free camps within reasonable commuting distance of major cities (which is of course where most of the work is!) are few and far between. As well as the potential security risks of leaving our camper trailer unattended for nine or 10 hours in a free camp five days a week, there are additional fuel costs and wear and tear on the car. So, we need to stay in caravan parks: kerching! Then, even if we’re staying at a dog-friendly caravan park (which, again, are few and far between in major cities), Banjo needs to be in a kennel (or some kind of ‘doggy day care’) while we’re at work. This not only means another cost, but (kennels mostly being out of town) entails considerable running around and, with kennels having strict opening hours (understandably), less flexibility with working hours. With our tendency to spend more on takeaway food/eating out for ‘convenience’ when we’re both working full time (let’s be honest, who hasn’t been there?!) on top of all that, it just doesn’t add up. And with just the one car, transport is another challenge for us when we’re both working: unless we’re employed in the same place (which hasn’t happened so far), staying close to reliable and efficient public transport (if that’s not an oxymoron!), or one of us can walk/ride to work, one of us inevitably has to drop off/pick up the other, meaning the other inevitably has to fill in time/wait around at the start/end of their working day. We’re not complaining, mind you; it’s all still our choice, and we’re making it work for us. Just putting it down on record, for anybody else who might be considering this lifestyle and who might find our experiences/thoughts useful J

All of that said, we will both be working for at least four weeks once our current house-sit ends (our house-sit hosts return this Sunday), so we have been working out the logistics, researching caravan parks and kennels, and considering various plans… Our hosts have very generously offered for Banjo to stay for another week, so Kim will stay on too. Paul will relocate, with the camper trailer, to a caravan park just 5km from here; we still have some Top Tourist Park vouchers that we received as gifts before we left Melbourne, so figured this was a good opportunity to use them. Her job being located in the central CBD, Kim will be able to walk or take a short bus trip for her first week of work, leaving Banjo to keep his new playmate company during the day. Beyond that first week, we’ll set up in another, dog-friendly caravan park a little further out, and Banjo will go into a kennel/doggy day care five days a week for the other three weeks of Kim’s assignment. With only three more weeks after that until we move into our Christmas/New Year house-/dog-sit (which takes us through until late January), we’ll just see what happens beyond the end of November…We don’t like to plan TOO far ahead, after all!!

Needless to say, now that we’re no longer focused on job-hunting, and our accommodation is sorted until the end of January, we can enjoy being in a new state and city. We’ve loved South Australia when we’ve been here on holiday in the past, and it remains the strongest contender for where we might (eventually) settle (south-coast NSW being soundly eliminated!), so we are looking forward to being able to explore at length over the next few months (and possibly/probably beyond…). While we really like what we’ve seen of Adelaide so far, and each day seems to bring yet another item for our ‘reasons to like Adelaide’ list, it’s still a capital city, so we’re keen to venture out into regional areas, some of which we’re already familiar with and can’t wait to revisit. With so many gorgeous destinations within very easy access of Adelaide, our weekends look set to be filled with much eating, drinking, sightseeing and walking – what else is working for, after all?

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