Saturday, November 20, 2010

How has moving to Altona changed me?

After coming to Melbourne in 2003, I had confined myself within the eastern suburbs and the CBD for the next 4 years. I stepped outside my cocoon with the move to Altona in 2007. The shift from east to west had opened my eyes to a much larger world that I was previously oblivious of. This prompted me to know more about Melbourne and I had since visited most parts of Melbourne including the western, eastern and northern suburbs. I believe that knowledge is power and a better understanding of Melbourne may come in useful in the future.

I was renting first in Glen Huntly, followed by Carnegie in the east prior to settling in Altona. Perhaps because I felt that I was a transient guest as a renter, I did not take an interest in finding out more about the local area. When I bought my own house in Altona, I no longer felt it right to live a hermit existence. Removed is the uncertainty of where I would lay my roots. I find it imperative that I should explore the suburb and environs thoroughly. For the first time, I became connected to the area that I live in. My fondness of Altona grew day by day and from this came the sense of identity and belonging to this beautiful suburb.

Postcode3018 Altona/Seaholme3163 Carnegie/Glenhuntly3056 Brunswick
Renting25.3%38.4%45.9%
Fully Owned45.9%29.1%26.4%
Purchasing24.2%28.7%24.9%
Others4.6%3.8%2.8%
Data obtained from domain.com.au

The above table shows the percentage of renters and owner-occupiers in 3 postcodes in the western (postcode 3018), eastern (3163) and northern (3056) suburb. Melbourne suburbs with a higher percentage of renters are usually nearer the City or universities. They also tend to differ in demographics compared to those suburbs with more owner-occupiers. The renters are usually young people, who have not yet established families. The mobility rate is high, with frequent movements of people in and out of the suburb. The suburbs are usually characterized by a higher proportion of students/city workers, a more multicultural character and a proliferation of bars and lounges to cater to the young people.

Altona is relatively low in renters compared to other Melbourne suburbs. I would say it is a more family-oriented suburb. This is reflected by many local activities being targeted towards families and children. In line with this family emphasis, Pier Street is designated an alcohol-free zone. In fact, many families in neighbouring suburbs such as Altona North, Altona Meadows and Point Cook are attracted to the beach, playgrounds and shops in Altona.

I feel that the high owner-occupier ratio is a plus for Altona. Only when you call a place your permanent abode, then will you feel that you are a part of that place and you will then invest time, effort and money, in making the suburb a better place for you and everyone to live in. I feel warmed by the knowledge that many Altona residents have strong pride for their suburb. Many residents would spend a lot of time tending their gardens, which will in turn beautify the streets and help to raise the overall quality of environment in Altona. I was too transformed from someone with absolutely no knowledge of gardening to someone who would visit Bunnings frequently to shop for plants, seeds, fertilizers and gardening tools.

When I moved to Altona, I discovered there is the so called east-west divide, not only of the better infrastructure and facilities in the eastern suburbs, but also of the myopic mentality that some segments of the population hold. A substantial number of people living in the eastern suburbs still harbour deep-seated prejudices towards the western suburbs. They would categorically pronounce western suburbs as undesirable places to live in, although they may not have even set their feet upon the western suburbs. What little they know of the region comes not through their personal experiences but from what they have heard from other people. Ignorance breeds ignorance. I feel that I could make use of my abilities and skills to do something for the local community. This leads to the birth of this blog, in which I will do my best in highlighting the positive aspects of Altona and showing interesting facets of life in Altona.

An unintended consequence of moving to Altona is the awakening of my interest in following Australian politics. When I was living in the eastern suburbs, I practically knew very little about the Federal and State politics. I only know that the Australian Prime Minister is John Howard at that time. I know of no other Australian politicians. It was by a stroke of fate that I purchased a house in the same street as Julia Gillard. It was several months later that I learnt that a politician lives a few houses away. From opposition, she became the Deputy Prime Minister and then the Prime Minister. This ignited my interest in Australian politics. I can say that now I probably know about Australian politicians more than most native-born people do.

To sum up, I believe that I have changed for the better since moving to Altona.

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