What do you need in your life when you’ve kicked out the grown-up kids and you’re downsizing from your family home in the burbs to a trendy apartment in the city.
You’ve had the garage sale and the charity pick-up to clear out all your old domestic appliances, and you’re looking forward to buying shiny new things that are more apartment-appropriate.
Or maybe you are those twenty-somethings, moving out of home and realising you don’t have any of the basic stuff you’ve taken for granted for all these years.
Either way, before you go on your shopping frenzy, here are a few items that you might not want to waste your money on.
Vacuum Cleaners: There’s no point in buying a state-of-the-art cylinder vacuum cleaner when you only have a lounge and two bedrooms, timber floors and no garden from which to trail dirt and grime.
The newer stick cleaners are compact, powerful and perfectly adequate – provided you get one with sufficient battery power. Dyson, those mothers of invention, are phasing out their corded vacs because their sticks work so efficiently (they say).
So maybe think space saving and convenience rather than an industrial strength cleaner.
Sound System: You may be thrilled by a new integrated sound system with a throbbing sub-woofer that makes you feel the explosions in movies, or turns your lounge room into a dance club when the doof starts doofing.
Your neighbours, however, will be less than impressed, thanks to the transmission properties of deep bass notes, especially when you crank up the volume while you are in the shower.
Angry neighbours can render that expensive system a waste of money and space if you disturb their peace and quiet.
For TV, especially a wall-mounted flat screen, go for a sound bar. To fill your flat with music, get a system with satellite speakers so the music is plenty loud enough for you but may never disturb the neighbours.
Barbecues: Personally, I would ban barbecues from balconies – they are the most selfish of any domestic appliance in any apartment block.
Amazingly, however, while everyone is getting hysterical about flammable cladding, nobody dares suggest that we remove one of the more obvious sources of potential fires.
But if you must have a barbecue, DON’T use solid fuel and DO clean it by some other means than the lazy “burning off” of last week’s fat. You might not care where the smoke and smell go, but your neighbours do.
Wind Chimes: Amid the hubbub, cars and truck noises and police and ambulance sirens, that gentle tinkle-tinkle transports you back to that week in Bali where everything was peaceful and you were at one with the world.
Meanwhile your neighbours are lying awake, harbouring murderous thoughts about what they will do to the idiot who installed the jangle factory beneath their bedroom window. Give it a rest.
Pot planters: You can buy ingenious plant pots that hook over your balcony balustrade, you fill them with soil and plants that provide colour and scent and a privacy screen too.
Of course, if you are any higher than the fourth or fifth storey, a decent gust of wind and they become a lethal weapon, hurtling down on some poor passer-by.
As for large planter boxes against the balustrade, you have just reduced its effective safe height when it comes to climbing children. They would make your swimming pool fence non-compliant so you can see the problem.
Enjoy your shopping expedition – but think about what you need … and what you really don’t.
This column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.