Have you ever tried to prove that you lived somewhere when you didn’t actually live somewhere? Or prove who you are when the requirements of proving who you are fall outside of what you are able to provide? We’ve had to do both of these recently, and flubbing and faking our way through it has been challenging and hilarious. But, getting back to the global homelessness post from weeks ago, it has also made us think about how hard it is to live without proof of residence or current identification, and how hard it must be for people to access services and facilities for people who are actually homeless.
We’ve already reported on the challenges of trying to get mobile phones without having a credit rating or the 100 points of identification that the provider wanted (we technically met the Australian government’s requirements, but the telephone company’s system didn’t allow for anything outside of the norm: Australian ID). And we’ve also briefly mentioned how we thought it might be challenging to get a house too, for the same reasons.
Well, getting the house didn’t turn out to be that hard. It seems that they don’t require you to prove that you live somewhere so that you can find a place to live. Some of the things on the forms were a bit of a challenge though. They wanted to know who our past landlords were, for example. We had owned our own house. They wanted references. All we could provide were Canadian. They wanted a budget. We have no idea how much things like electricity will cost. But, despite all that, we really liked one of the first houses we saw, put in an application, and got approval a few days later. Much of this, of course, was due to the work that Lisa did before we left Canada, obtaining written reference letters from the insurance company, the bank, the electricity company, etc., all of which were dutifully copied by the leasing agency. We are now living in our house (as we wrote about in the last post) but it is not, however, our ‘permanent residence’.
In between getting approved for the house and actually moving in, we bought a car. We were in a bit of a rush for both of these, because CSU was footing the bill for just 10 days. Hotel and car rental beyond that were on our dime. One possibility to get a car was through a leasing agency that CSU works with, but because we are on temporary resident visas that expire in under 3 years, we could only get a 2 year lease agreement. This made the cost of the car way too much. So we decided we had to buy. We scouted out a car, then Dan spent a day of hilariously silly bureaucracy getting things finalized. First, he goes to the dealer and negotiates the price. Then they discuss when we can pick it up, and how long it will take to do the rego. This is on Friday morning, and we want to get the car on Monday, the same day we get possession of our house. This is where it gets goofy.
Because we are not permanent residents of Australia, we can’t get New South Wales driver’s licenses for 6 months. So to rego a car in Dan’s name, he had to go to the NSW Road and Traffic Authority and get a customer number. This, however, requires a permanent address (not residency, just proof that you live here). Here’s how the conversation went:
Dan: Hi, I’m new to the country and buying a car and need a customer number so it can be registered…oops, I mean rego’ed…in my name.
RTA Customer Service Lady: No worries, I just need to see some identification.
Dan: Here’s my passport, my Alberta license, my credit cards…
RTA: Do you have anything that says you live here?
Dan: No, I live in a hotel. I get a house on Monday. Can I bring in a letter from the rental agency saying that?
RTA: They probably won’t do that. Do you have a receipt from the hotel?
Dan: No, it is paid for by my wife’s employer.
RTA: I knew you would say that…will they give you a letter saying you live there?
Dan: You mean that would be all I need? No problem
Next conversation of the day, back at The Lawson.
Dan: Hi. I’ve got a really weird request for you.
PerkyGirl: Oh I doubt it. I’ve heard everything.
Dan: I am buying a car, and to register it I need a letter saying I live here.
PerkyGirl: That is a bit odd. I have to call the owner.
Dan goes for lunch, stops back in the office, and PerkyGirl hands him an envelope and says “too easy”.
Back at the RTA office, Dan hands clerk a sheet of Lawson letterhead that says Dan “is a permanent resident of The Lawson Motor Inn at 117-121 Tarcutta Street, Wagga Wagga, NSW.” Clerk keys in the details, Dan gets customer number, goes back to dealer and buys car. Too easy!
By the time we actually picked up the car (after only needing to rent for one extra day), we had keys to the house (we stayed at the hotel 3 extra nights, to give us time to get in some furniture and vacuum up some spiders) but more important, we had a rental agreement stating that we were renting, therefore residing in, a house in Wagga. At some point, Dan just has to go back to the RTA office and change his address.
In the little more than a week that we’ve been in the house, we’ve established more identity; we have ATM cards, credit cards, and also utility bills with our name on them. We exist. We have a residence.
We don’t have permanent residency…in either the official or unofficial way. Unofficial is that we have a 6 month lease on our house. It is owned by Australian Defence, and they don’t do longer leases in case they need the house for air force personnel. That works for us, because we don’t know if we want to be there longer than that, and if we do it will probably be on a monthly basis anyway. Over the next few months, we have to figure out when, where and how we are going to buy a permanent house.
As for official permanent residency…that is a couple of years away still.
Sorry for the lack of photos…we didn’t have anything new to put in after last post about the house. And we are writing from Bathurst, a city about 300 km from Wagga so can’t take any pictures of anything relevant.
Search terms of the week: 1967 el camino hyde; grizzly attack; binging and purging is fun.