Co-Housing

I’m binge watching youtube video’s, as I do when I’m doing nothing on the weekend and I stumble on this TED talk on co-housing:

This got me thinking of all of the different types of houses I’ve lived in over the years and I’d thought I share my stories and experiences with them.

My personal values are (I can actually use the mnemonic CASE to remember them);

  • Community
  • Adding value
  • Sustainability
  • Experiences over things

Living in sharehousing/cohousing actually aligns with my all of my core values in some way.

Student Housing in Sweden

I lived in Sweden as an exchange student for a year between 2009-2010. I lived in a corridor in a student housing complex. Each corridor had 13 separate bedroom & bathroom units and a central kitchen/lounge room that was shared amongst the 13 corridor tenants. Each floor had 2 corridors and most buildings 4 levels.

Stereotypical floor plan for a corridor

This student complex had a building for every letter of the alphabet. There was a communial laundry for every few buildings in the basement. The gym was in building A:

Google street view of the buildings and gym in the student complex DELPHI
Here’s a satellite view of that complex

I lived in a Swedish corridor that only had 2 international student rooms. I’m really grateful for this mix because another corridor in our building was all international students. In my mind this was close to pretty much ideal living situations for a student. I had never felt this socially connected before. If there wasn’t a party happening somewhere in Delphi there was another student complex up the road that someone else knew where a party was happening.

Costs

Rent for this accommodation equated to about $125 AUD a week and included nearly everything. It was very reasonable and within my means being on government payments even though I didn’t receive rent assistance. I was getting around $375 AUD every two weeks from study allowance. My only extra bill was internet which was crazy cheap and fast (roughly $10 AUD per month for a basic 200GB package that had fast fibre speeds)

Drawbacks

The only drawback I experienced in this situation was because I was only there for a year, I couldn’t personalise my space as much as my local Swedish neighbours could.

Variety of share houses

I’ve lived in a variety of share houses since then. While finishing uni I lived in around 5 different situations. Rents were between $60 AUD to $130 per week. I lived with a lady from Bangladesh and her two kids in a tiny apartment in Sandy Bay, in a old 3 story brick house in Glebe, an out the back granny flat in Glenorchy and a huge old house in Taroona.

Taroona

Taroona was my cheapest share house but they came with some big problems. The house it self was huge. It was a two storey 3 bedroom house with a second loungeroom downstairs. We converted the downstairs loungeroom into a 4th bedroom. The total rent for the house was $270 per week. We had split the rent to between $60 to $80 per week per room. Only thing is the house came with a troll.

The troll of Taroona

There was a granny flat underneath half the house and it was occupied by a single guy. He was the troll in our house. He would bang on our floor when when we were being “too loud”, fill our house with the stink of weed, have random burnoffs in the back yard, have loud aggressive arguments with his ex misses about shared custody of their kid. He made living in this house very hard.

Drawbacks

Another drawback to this place was one of my house mates was struggling with rent. Another housemate would vouch for him but he kept getting further and further behind. I ended up leaving that house with this person owing me over $1000 in food, rent and shared bills. I’ve never seen any of this money and I have never spoken to this person since then.

Communal Housing in Bland Street, Ashfield

Since moving to Sydney at the start of 2014 I’ve lived in about 9 different places. I haven’t had a lot of stability in my living arrangements. One of the more interesting places has become a old Victorian era town house converted into a communal community house in Ashfield, also known as Bland St. This house had around 11 bedrooms and 20-ish residents.

Sense of Community

I love the sense of community in this situation. I would often cook communal meals and had gardening and home brewing projects with a lot of the residents. I baked so many brownies. The average demographic was between 18-25 so I was a bit on the older side and most people were working holiday visa types. The house is always changing it’s personality.

Share rooms in Sydney

In Bland St most rooms were shared 2 person (usually strangers) per room. Sydney is ripe with this type of arrangement because rent is so dam expensive. I was paying between $150-$225 (ish) per week depending on the room arrangements and location. I’ve lived in this type of situation in Darlinghurst, China Town, Pyrmont and Ashfield.

Drawbacks

The main drawback to co-sharing a room is the disrupted sleep. My depression gets when I don’t get enough sleep. The young vibe of Bland Street meant I felt like I drank too much alcohol, I still feel that now but at least I’ve reduced the social drinking urge.

Co Housing in the future?

It seems that co-housing in Sydney is starting to open up. For example apparently we opened our first co-housing in September this year. Only thing is, the rent for this is incredible expensive ($525 per week). I currently pay $300 per week for a my own room in a 2 bedroom apartment in Wollstonecraft. It’s a stone throws away from the train station. $350 is my maximum budget that I’m willing to spend on renting in Sydney.

Tiny Housing

Tiny house that comes with a green house 

I have an obsession with tiny houses. I have a loft bed in my bedroom. it’s pretty cool. I love the idea of tiny housing and being efficient with space. Small housing also has less environmental impacts, requires less resources to maintain and all that stuff. It’s been really nice to furnish my own room with second hand furniture and to experiment with space saving ideas. 

My ideal living arrangements

Is probably a share house communal living arrangement. I would love to live in something like I did in Sweden where I can furnish my own space but partake in communal cooking. I’d love to live in a place with an easy to access community garden. It’ll probably be apartment based if I was in a city like Sydney or maybe wooden cabins based if I had my own land in Tasmania. I want something that’s nicely designed as opposed the regular cheap as possible option often seen here in Sydney.

What would be your ideal living arrangements?

Hop Nation & Two Birds breweries

I was in Melbourne for a conference yesterday. I arrived during the weekend and I spent my Sunday evening exploring two local breweries and tasting craft beer. It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday in my mind. The first one on my list was Hop Nation. Second was Two Birds. This blog will go through the atmosphere and beer tasting of these two breweries.

Hop Nation brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/V8RWA7eHCdm

The Atmosphere

This is the first time I’ve been to a brewery that felt more like a barn than a big industrial shed. The exposed brick is a pleasant change from the big shed feel. The building was built in the 1880’s and was originally used as a whale fat candle and wax factory. There was extra seating upstairs and big “stained glass” paintings which gave the feel of a church. I believe the idol of worship here is the humble beer. Considering their slogan is, “in hops we trust” the theming feels on point.

The Beer

Having 15 tap options is an impressive amount to choose from. Hop Nation specialise in hoppy beers (Who da though it?) but they do experiment with other styles. There’s plenty here to tickle your fancy. I’m not a huge fan of Hoppy beers, I’ve been drinking craft beer for 7 odd years now and it’s taken me this long to start to aprreciate the IPA (which stands for Indian Pale Ale). Basically if you see IPA on a beer just assume it will be hoppy and bitter.

Malibu Stacey – milkshake IPA sounds interesting. I had one from a can a few weeks ago. The sweetness comes from adding lactose into the beer post fermentation. Lactose is a non fermentable sugar that adds sweetness without being fermented into alcohol. It’s weird at first but drinkable once tastes are adjusted. Other milkshake flavours can be added to bring out different flavour profiles. 

Beer Tasting

The Punch – Mango Gose

I like a good sour beer, this one was my favourite out of the tasting paddle. It wasn’t over fruity or over sour and it was nice to kick off a pretty heavy paddle with this one.

Jedi Juide – NEIPA

Hop Nation is probably best known for this beer. NEIPA stands for New England Indian Pale Ale. This beer doesn’t have much to do with England or India and is more of an American invention. These beers usually use fruitier hops, tend to be cloudier than other IPA’s and I feel like they can be a good introduction to the hoppier styles of beer. This one was a bit offensive to begin with (most IPA’s are). I probably wouldn’t use this beer as an introductionary NEIPA. Once accustomed to the hoppy taste it went down easy enough.

The Dawn – Double NEIPA

Another offensive IPA. Once you get past the initial shock of the bitterness it was easy enough to drink. Watch out for that 9 percent alcohol though, you wouldn’t want to drive after having a pint of this stuff.

2018 Kalash – Russian Imperial Stout

I like a dark beer. However getting a strong russian imperial stout that feels easy to drink can be challenging. It’s easy for these beers to feel over powering because of the high alcohol content. This one will kick you in the teeth on your first sip before you are able to settle in to enjoy it.

Blonde Melange – Golden Sour

I also had a sample of the sour beer on my way out. I probably shouldn’t have done this after a Russian Imperial Stout; but I’ll say, “Forgive me father because I have sinned”, and I believe this venue will forgive me. This was more of a sour lemon pucker up type of beer. Not for the faint of heart if this isn’t your style.

Two Birds brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/Wii6iS7jEBy

The Atmosphere

This feels more industrial compared to Hop Nation. The artwork on the wall adds a nice touch. There is this huge bridge you can see from the banks of where this brewery is. It was pretty quite on a Sunday evening, maybe daylight savings had an impact on this?

The Beer

There’s another impressive selection of 12 taps here with a variety of styles to choose from. I went to a Two Birds dinner and beer party at the Kirriblli Pub for the Sydney Beer week last year when they were first launching passion victim. You won’t find many IPA’s on their menu; their beers are more geared towards the easy drinking with family and friends on a weekend backyard BBQ with some experimental flavours thrown in.

Taco Beer

Their taco beer is always a good introductionary craft beer that sounds very gross but is pleasantly nice. They’ve changed the recipe recently so I thought it was worth trying again in this tasting paddle. It’s easy to drink, light and refreshing.

Sakura Sour

Look at the colour of this beer. It’s just amazing. This one is done with a sake yeast. I’d say it borders on the pucker up sour but it’s not going to make you screw your face up on first sip.

Hibiscus Saison

Again there’s an amazing colour for this beer and it smelt amazing. This one was my favourite that I sampled on this paddle. I enjoyed sipping this beer while I read my book in the brewery.

Irish Red IPA

This beer doesn’t look like a red IPA, it’s pretty dark in colour. It wasn’t offensive for an IPA which is always a pleasant surprise

Spring Saison

I finished my beer adventures with this farmhouse ale. Saison is my preferred style and this was a good beer to finish on. It was one of the least “pucker up sour” beers I’d had all night. It is a crisp and dry with wine-like characters.

Summing it all up

I really enjoyed checking out both Hop Nation and Two Birds breweries. I got very toasty sitting in breweries and ready a good book. I’m not going to go out of my way for a Hop Nation beer any time soon, hoppy beers aren’t my style but I’ll always grab a new two birds sour if I see one.

Lessons in Branding : HelloFresh

In a world of time poor families and social media every where; HelloFresh is nailing their branding.

I got my first HelloFresh box this morning. I really like the idea; a food subscription with fresh ingredients delivered to your door with recipes to make for easy meal prep at home. I think their branding is just top notch:

Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/ToXrwp

I’m going to walk you through my unboxing experience while I delve into the branding behind it.

Unboxing & Recipe Cards

Woo the box, each recipe actually came in separate brown paper bags
My box came with 5 recipes
Here is the back of one of those cards, pictures make it easy to follow

Leveraging Technology

HelloFresh has a sleek website that was easy to use and an app that pairs with their product offering. I haven’t used their app but having that digital way to plan meal preps sounds like a good idea for them. You should leverage technology as part of your marketing campaigns as much as possible. If I had discovered bugs with my first ordering experience I would have viewed the overall product with less favor. The on boarding experience here is super important to get right especially when you are pairing a physical product with a digital offering.

Product Idea

Hello Fresh could sell a binder and each recipe card could have a 2-3 punch hole on the side to add to the binder. It would be an easy way to keep the physical cards. They are so nicely put together it would be a shame to toss them. It would be similar to the magazine subscriptions I use to have back in the day:

Source: http://www.modernbookbinders.com/

Aggressive marketing

I see HelloFresh everywhere; at least in Sydney they frequently have reps on the street giving out vouchers. I’m sure I have 2 floating around somewhere. Even the box comes with coupons to share with your network. Partnerships are important. If you had a similar product to HelloFresh and partnered with them to give out a coupon code on their next delivery cycle you’d get a reasonable amount of reach. Postal marketing is seeing a resurgence lately.

Good branding needs good marketing to support it.

They also have an instagram photo competition (#HelloFreshAU) going on to engage customers around their brand. What marketing tactics have you seen HelloFresh use that you’ve also tried?

Will I continue with it?

Short answer, probably not. I had 80% of my stomach surgically removed for weight loss surgery 2 years ago. I can only eat tiny meals now and I need to focus on protein first. I would waste some food on this program because the protein to everything else ratio doesn’t suit my dietary needs. I also enjoy researching my own recipes and perusing fresh food markets on weekends to get ideas for meal prep. The convenience doesn’t sell me because I am a foodie at heart and love putting my own research into food. I do think this company is doing an awesome job at branding.