April 21, 2021
Recently I was struck by how much I like where I live - it’s a nice location, and we have great neighbours, but in particular this area is where I feel I really turned my life around for the better and we started building a solid family life together.
In a reminiscing mood, I was also thinking about how I’d explain to my children where I’d lived over the years, and thought I’d create a bit of a photographic history …
Milson, Palmerston North
This is where I arrived with my parents in New Zealand, to live with my grandparents while our house was built. It was on the edge of the countryside at the time; across the road was fields and animals, and there were farms a short walk away. There’s still a field there in 2021, but it’s built up on all sides.
One of my earliest childhood memories is looking out of the sort-of-bay-window at night, warmed by a portable kerosene heater.
We then moved here, to the back subdivision (just visible), with my grandparents moving in to the house in front a few years later. Memories here are of my father and grandfather finishing the house in front, as it was provided as a shell; they did the wallpaper, flooring, ceilings, etc.
Roslyn, Palmerston North
I lived in Milson until I was 18. The most significant event in my life occurred then, when I met my now wife. We initially lived with some University friends in a student flat. I recall some beautiful details about the place, like wooden floorboards and high ceilings.
There were multiple buildings on the site; our rental was the one at the back in the photo.
Random Internet trivia: the house next door was the home of Alan Brown’s Manawatu Internet Services, known then for the controversial ORBS spam-blocking list. One of our flatmates at the time did some contract work for Alan, and we had a Cat5 cable strung out our window, and into Alan’s.
Terrace End, Palmerston North
The next student flat, um, wasn’t quite as lovely :) It was pretty run down when we moved in, but it was cheap. And we didn’t get much grief from the landlord about damage to carpets, or the window that fell off, or the derelict motorcycles we collected.
This time, ours was the building in the front of the photo; I think the grime on the building may date back to the mid 1990s when we lived there. It certainly doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned or painted since then. The fences are new, though.
Awapuni, Palmerston North
From there, we - not just my wife and I, but our flatmates too! - moved to another student flat in Awapuni. While living there I started working for Massey University’s IT department, and we started saving to move out into our own place.
West End, Palmerston North
Our first place of our own! We occupied a small one-bedroom flat in West End. I remember saving for months, making regular trips to The Warehouse to buy essentials like cookware, cutlery, and bedding.
We lived here for a year or so, until our move to Auckland.
Mt. Eden, Auckland
Our first house with more than one bedroom. We lived up the back of a large block of flats, and even had the luxury of our own (not connected) lockable garage. Mt. Eden was a lovely location but expensive to rent in, and (on our budget) impossible to buy into, even in the early 2000s.
We purchased our first house in the early 2000s in a suburb of Auckland, Onehunga. It was a very solid three two (or three, depending on how you counted the sun room) brick and timber house which we made a few improvements to over the years.
This is the first place we’ve lived in that has changed notably since we moved out. The photo above was taken on the day we moved in; the Google Street View shot below is much more recent and shows some of the extensive work that a developer and later owners have performed.
After years in Onehunga, we moved to …
… Australia! At the time (2007), Sunshine was pretty rough. But it was cheap, well connected to public transport, and a great base for my wife to train as a helicopter pilot, and me to co-found OffByZero. We used it as a share house and home office for nearly two years.
It didn’t have that air conditioner fitted when we lived there, sadly :)
In between Sunshine and Upwey, I spent a few months living in a rental property in Balwyn while my wife worked in Coolangatta, and we house-hunted around Melbourne.
This was an … interesting … rental. They were happy to have a short-term lease with pets, which surprised me. It turned out that parts of the building were condemned, it was literally falling to pieces, and a developer was planning to bulldoze it but had run out of money during the 2009 GFC.
I spent an odd three months living off frozen Sri Lankan meals from a local Sri Lankan food store, lifting weights on my bench I set up in the sunroom (no need to worry about damaging the floor!), and continuing to work on OffByZero in the evenings and on weekends.
It seems that in the years since, the developer accumulated the necessary funds, demolished it, and replaced it:
Our first house in the Hills. A lovely, airy, place with amazing views into the valley - this is where we started growing our family :) The only real downside was the extraordinarily steep slope that claimed a few people; my wife and several of our guests had nasty falls down the driveway.
Since we sold and moved out a few years ago, there’s been extensive work on the site to create a new carport, and resurface the driveway - it looks good, if perhaps more optimised towards functionality than towards being “nestled in the trees”: