With the whirlwind of land release week at an end, we had made the call that we would go with the shorter 12.5 wide block that was available opposite the park. The balance between the cheaper price and not paying stamp duty, against extra costs for a double storey home and extra bushfire requirements didn’t balance out so we would be facing a larger mortgage, but in turn we would have a bigger house with a park out the front that could be a longer term home for us.
With the decision made, all that was left was to put a deposit on the land. We knew from talks with the sales team that people had been there since 4am for the previous land release so we debated – do we get up really early or do we camp out overnight. Every time we talked about it, we inched a little earlier. By Friday morning we had decided we might as well go straight after dinner and camp out, by Friday lunchtime we had bumped it up to leaving work early and going straight there. With only 1 lot that we wanted, we didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Honestly this was probably the most stressful few hours of the whole thing so far – deciding to commit to a huge mortgage and moving double the distance from our jobs was easier than this! I left the office at 3 to meet Alex, only for him to tell me he had completely forgotten about leaving early. OK, I would go home and pack the car up and pick him up from the station on the way. Then we get on the highway and there is a massive accident…we’re stuck for 45 minutes queuing in traffic. It was excruciating. I felt like I could throw up by the time we cleared the accident.
Finally we get there – it’s only 5.30 but we’re close to divorce I’m so stressed with my husband’s delay and its impact. No-one else is there and I pretty much cry when I realise it means we will get our land. We setup our chairs and our blankets and settle in.
I soon want the bathroom and we realise there are none we could access….time for me to go get pizza for dinner and a bathroom run. As it turned out, this was a good thing as every few hours one of us would go for a drive for a bathroom run (gas stations, McDonalds, we knew them all!) which really broke up the night and gave us opportunities to warm up. It got down to 1C overnight and pretty much stayed there until the sun came up, it was not pleasant despite lots of layers.
Because the land release was on election day, we were thought there was a chance we may be the only ones camping. But by 6pm another guy had already joined us. Turns out a lot of people said they drove past and saw us sitting out already, rushed home and grabbed their stuff to do the same. Crazy breeds crazy right!!! Slowly other people drifted in every half an hour or so, by 9pm someone else had arrived that wanted our lot and we were relieved we were first in line. All in all about 20 people camped overnight for 32 lots of land, by 9am the next morning there were close to 50 people.
We both had a few hours sleep in our car at different points, but by the next morning I felt like I had done a long haul flight. It was not pleasant. We had talked through the night with a few people but most kept to themselves, so we never found out who our potential new neighbours might be.
At 8am, the sales team arrived and ferried us in one by one to fill in forms saying which lot we wanted (everyone else had to list multiple choices except us as back ups if their first preference was gone) and give all our details. They bring forward a second release and we realise ironically we could now get our originally planned 12.5 x 30 with a north facing garden but we agree to stick with the plan at this point. My heart was set on the park opposite us. Everything had been pretty civilised until then, but one guy caused trouble claiming he had been pushed out the line (which wasn’t true). We missed most of this but apparently he started a fight and the police ended up being called in. Knowing this was one of our future neighbours made the whole situation a bit miserable.
By 9am, everyone had done their forms and we were called up to put down our deposits and mark off our lot on the map. It felt a bit like an awards presentation, everyone clapped when our sold sticker went up on the board, the guy who was 2nd in line congratulated us…and that was it, we were out of there and on our way home for a shower and some sleep!
For those who are considering camping for land in the future, I have a few pieces of advice:
- It’s the biggest purchase of your life, it’s worth investing the time if you think it’s going to be necessary. Expect higher demand for early releases and final releases or if there has been a long waiting period between releases. Don’t hesitate to ask the sales team about what other people have said they might do to scope it out!
- Go in a pair (or more) – the people on their own had to sit there all night, we swapped out so we could go for a drive to warm up/sleep in the car/get food/find a bathroom. It really broke up the night. Not to mention the company is nice, suffer together and all that! If you’re on your own you are stuck there.
- Bring comfy chairs – you’re going to be there a long time. We watched one woman pace around for 6 hours because her small plastic folding chair killed her back. A good camping chair is always a good investment IMO!
- Dress appropriately for the weather – so many people turned up in nothing more than tracksuit pants and a sweater, while we were sitting in big winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves etc. Those people who didn’t dress right really suffered through the night. Even in summer, remember it will get cooler overnight and have layers you can add or remove. I even had my sheepskin slippers that I wore most of the night.
- If you’re going to camp in winter, it’s worth borrowing or investing in winter camping gear too. We had summer sleeping bags from family, they kept the wind out but not the cold. The cold got to us more than anything despite all the layers.
- Make sure you have lots to kill the time – all our phones, laptops etc died really quickly because of the cold sapping the batteries. A book would have been a godsend.
- Bring snacks and water – we got peckish at 2am, and we drank 4 litres of water because we were awake most of the night. A thermos of something hot would have been even better looking back now.
- Scope out your bathroom options, be prepared to deal with using “natures” options. Petrol stations and 24 hour McDonalds wouldn’t let us in between 11pm and 5am for safety reasons. If they’re already building in the development, you might luck out and find a portaloo you can get to on a building site.