Populating the House for Free Again

I, the gurung guni, of Perth
Pledge to find myself a dining table
Regardless of Pine, Jarrah or European Aspen
To populate a house spending nothing
Base on the local people's generosity
So as to achieve, happiness, prosperity and yummy food in the kitchen

Did I tell you gumtree.com.au is my lifesaver? I got lotsa things there for free. There are a few reasons why the "freebies" sections is bursting with life everyday. 

  • The community in Perth are generous
  • They believe strongly in sharing and recycling
  • They practice the spirit of paying it forward
  • (and so do I)

To be honest, I doubt most Singaporeans will find gumtree useful, not in the picking up freebies sense at least. In general, we do not like used stuff and I can prove it to you. Or rather, the situation will prove it for me. Just take a walk along HDB void decks during the year end holiday season to Chinese New Year to see how much usable stuff Singaporeans throw away. Don't tell me those were done by the foreigners. It was already a consistent trend all the way back to the 80s, when foreigners were a few and far between as compared to these days. Well, I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. The original point I made was: Read the first sentence of this paragraph.

To me though, Gumtree freebies section has been great because it saved me thousands of dollars. I am not exaggerating here. I can easily list out the most costly items that total a few thousands. If I do it all, it'll come to several. Should I buy all of those brand new, I would be thousands in dollars worse off. No doubt about it at all.

Last weekend I decided to do all over again. Over the years, I have agonized friends by refusing to change my dining seats. Mr Stephen, the donor of those chairs would sigh and shake his head whenever a screw drops out when he sat on a chair.

"Paiseh lah," he would go. "I shouldn't have given you these creaky seats."

One of the seats was broken and little Albany would always remind me who broke it cheerily in her innocence, not realising it was rude. "Auntie M broke it!" she would go, before breaking out in giggles. I would laugh loudly because, well, it was funny and I have low EQ. In fact, I would secretly wait and see which unknowing new visitors would break another chair. If not, it has been fun to see their expressions when they found loose screws randomly dropping if they move the chairs too fast.

Anyway, a generous lady in her 40s offered her dining chairs (above) for free. So I drove all the way down to Singaporean's favourite suburb in Perth, Canningvale, to collect them. Caucasian lady, busty and happy to see me. Nice. I was told that those who contacted her were a pain to deal with. Some wanted only 4 chairs, some asked for more pictures of the chairs, some asked for delivery, some didn't even turn up to collect them as promised. Me? I turned up on time, collected them and left without a fuss. I told myself to never give any trouble to people who were nice enough to give out their things for free. The chairs looked great to me, not sparkling new but good enough for me. They were all sturdy too. My friends would be happy if they read this, especially Auntie M.

I had no time to waste. I needed to rush all the way up north to collect a beautiful swinging chair. Albany was on my mind throughout the journey. Several times when we visited Masters, she would run to one of the swinging chairs, sat on it and refused to leave after that. Trips to Masters always ended up in tears. When the owner told me I could have it, I was elated. One of those would cost me $300 up from the shops and they wouldn't last long at all if anyone put them up free. Wouldn't last even an hour, I bet.

When Albany saw the swing when I set it down, she exclaimed in joy and hopped on to it without invitation. She couldn't stop laughing throughout. I knew it would entertain her to no end for years. Swings have always been her favourite ever since I put her on one of those when she hadn't even learn to walk.

That night when we finally brought the swing back home, Albany couldn't take her eyes of it. During dinner, she suddenly exclaimed, "Look daddy! Lights!"

I turned and was surprised to see what I saw. "Look Albany, lights!" She threw a series of giggles and continued her dinner, pleased. The next day, her first request was to raise the blinds at the sliding door. "It's still there!" she exclaimed and began to hop around on one leg. I wondered when her enthusiasm would die down. Knowing my own daughter, it would be quite a long while.

Sorry about the freakish picture. I live in a twilight zone after all and now you see my point.

I have a odd corner in the house everyone asks me about when they see it. When I told them I intended that as a computer nook, they all gave me an unconvincing expression. One even called it a "Man-cave" and asked me if I am thin enough to squeeze in there to use a computer. I couldn't believe that actually plant a small doubt in my mind such that I took a chair and sat down there staring at the wall. There was more than enough space like I thought. How could I doubt myself and listen to people who didn't know anything about computer nooks.

The problem was, since it was such an unusual dimension, I was mentally prepared that I wouldn't find furniture that fits nicely there. If there is, it probably wouldn't come cheap.

Imagine my delight when I found someone giving away a desk in good condition in gumtree. Immediately, I texted the lady and asked her for dimensions. I couldn't believe my luck. It was a perfect fit for the computer nook. So I replied, "May I have it please?" when I really meant, "I WANT IT NOW!" I was prepared to drive there if she gave me the green light. However, it was already 8pm. She told me to try 10am in the following day instead. I had to brave the rain to get it back the next morning but it was worth it. Just look how spot on the dimensions were (left). There was even a section that slides outward intended for the keyboard.

I requested to Jen to make a makeshift curtain with a tension rod so that the nook could be veiled during gaming time. She predicted that the kids would eventually find me out and start crawling into the place to huddle around, treating it like a clubby house. Hmm, looks like that child gate is going to come useful in the future.

Other mentionable stuff I got for free are such as a swing set, a 6 seater dining table and matching chair set, solid kids table with 4 sturdy tiny chairs, a queen size wooden bed frame that will look great after I restore it for the guest room.

Installed at MIL's place (she just migrated here T_T).
 Didn't take pictures of the rest of the good stuff

If you are a pissed poor peasant like myself, you can consider borrowing some good will from the community here to start off life. It may take you as long as 8-10 years to settle down fully. Try your best to pay it forward by giving away things that you don't need. That way, the spirit of sharing will grow. I cannot say enough how grateful I am to Perth gumtree's community.

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