I moved to Shepparton in November, and it’s the best I’ve ever felt about my living situation.
I’m originally an Adelaide boy and grew up with my extremely kind but strict mother Jane and my older but less mature sister Harriet.
Living with Harriet was my first test of living with others.
She and I are polar opposites: I’m logic whereas she’s emotion; I’m carnivorous and she’s herbivorous; I want the footy on but she wants to watch Mean Girls for the 100th time (great movie — but still, 100 times?).
Harriet and I are great friends as well as siblings, but living together meant we would always clash, particularly over nothing.
When Harriet moved out, Mum's sole focus was on me, who, as a young man, yearned for independence — but I never had cash and still wanted my washing done.
Moving on to 2016 on a university exchange in The Netherlands, most students didn’t do their dishes, left their washing mouldy in the machine, ate my food and drank my beer — which is as bad as murder or treason in my books.
While attending an international university in Europe was a real eye-opener for seeing how students from around the world came together to solve problems as they arose, the living situation was far from desirable. Because I’m a clean freak, I would often be picking up after others for my own peace of mind, but felt like the more I did this, the more of a pushover I would appear.
After the exchange I was glad to be home again, but last year I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne with a couple and their dog.
Not working full-time, I was the one most often at home with the dog. I ill-considered I would become the de facto dogfather, particularly with a puppy kelpie, so I moved on after six months.
Then, moving in with two mates, there was a blend of good and bad: red wine was on the menu every night, but issues similar to my exchange experience were at play once more.
I love my mates, but they either didn’t know how to clean, or just wouldn’t.
And when I was at odds with anyone I lived with, I felt isolated and lonely.
Now I’m in Shepparton, where all the mess is made by me, no lights are left on and there’s no tiptoeing around other people’s plans. I’m fine with my own company, my TV programs, my book, my dishes. At home, I am the master of my own destiny.
As Diana Ross said, “It’s my house and I live here”.
● Ed McLeish is a News journalist.