Gaming vs Living: Blurring the rEAlity

Posted on December 8, 2008

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Top: Houses laid out  in Simcity looks eerily similar to the houses being constructed in Truganina.

Houses laid out in Simcity (top) look eerily similar to the houses being constructed in Truganina (bottom).

Can’t help but notice the uncanny similarity between Melbourne’s growing middle-class-dual-income-families’ realising their dream homes and EA Games’s cult classic. Surely this land-grabbing phenom has to stop? Perhaps the idea of Geelong, Sunbury and Melton as Melbourne’s suburbs won’t be considered too far fetched in the years to come.

When Michele and I started looking for a property to purchase, we were (almost) living off one single income and I had just started application for my spouse visa. It was a big risk – if my spouse visa was rejected, I had to ship back to Singapore with my head expertly concealed in a brown paper bag. Okay, it’s not that exaggerated but the fear was always there. Not a day went by when I did not think about my visa application. Having the rights to work more than 20 hours a week and not treated like outsiders (many public transport officials love picking on foreign students and FOBS) is something many Aussies take for granted. Besides, the Medicare card is a wonderful benefit. Gone are the days of paying full medical fees!

Anyway, we knew we were on a tight budget so we had to Go West. Silly Melburnians have priced just about everyone out of the market in the inner East, North and just south of the river Yarra. With the West, it’s much easier as it never had the popularity other parts of Melbourne enjoy. A few descriptive, choice words come to mind when one thinks of the West. Dangerous. Stabbings. Killings. Drugs. Minorities. Poor. Then again, apart from the inner East (where it’s always been a Anglo enclave and enjoys a posh reputation), are there any outlying suburbs in Melbourne that aren’t immune to societal ills?

I remember the day we moved to the West, after spending three wonderful and memorable years in the inner North (Brunswick). It was a complete culture shock. One moment we’re sitting with dreadlocked hippies, sipping chai lattes, op-shopping and enjoying a quick trip home in Zone 1, the next I’m standing next to towering Africans, buying products from Vietnamese-run shops, cooking more often and a lengthier commute from Zone 2.

But hear hear, really it’s all the West’s reputation preceding itself. It’s a stereotype that became a myth that led to a legend. I’ve been here a year, and yes it’s not all pretty. But it’s no different from living in the inner North. The locale might be different, but our lifestyles remain the same. Just because we’re in the West doesn’t mean we can’t have our chai lattes. It’s just a train ride back to our old stomping ground!

Property prices might have taken us out of Brunswick, but it will never take the Brunswick out of us.

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