adjusting to small space life and the joys of terracotta
— at
Nightingale Studios
Nightingale Marrickville
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Tell us about yourself.

My name is Samantha and I am a nurse. I was first drawn to Nightingale because of my profession, so of course knew who Florence Nightingale was. I'm actually wearing a Florence Nightingale pendant. I've had this for years. So I looked into Nightingale Housing after noticing that the emblem was a cross and from watching Never Too Small. I was living in Japan at the time and eventually saw that a project in Marrickville was going to be built, I hopped around until the opportunity to apply was open, so I feel lucky. It was years in the making for me. A lot of patience.

Were you living in a small space in Japan? 

No. It was probably the biggest place I'll ever live in. I know it's quite common, but I lived in Okinawa and homes are a bit bigger there than the mainland.  I was married at the time and my husband was in the military, so I was working as a nurse for the US federal government there. When that contract ended and we separated, I came to Australia and I thought this community and this kind of living situation would be good for me at this stage in my life. 

While I was in Japan, I was going to Sydney Uni online and the only person I became close with online through one of my courses lived in Sydney. So that was why I ended up here. I applied for work in all different areas of Sydney and I ended up getting a job in Marrickville. It just kind of all worked out.

It's incredible that you were successful in the ballot after waiting so long.

I had a good feeling it was going to work out. It was meant to be. 

How has it been living here so far?

I was one of the first people to move in. I will say it has been quite an adjustment. I did have a two-bedroom place by myself and then came here into a studio-sized home. I've sold quite a few things, but the thing that I like about it is I was able to sell things like my microwave knowing that I can use one downstairs if I really need to. You don't need much in this kind of environment. 

You have room for your cookbooks though.

Yes! it's a growing collection.  Admittedly, I am a good cook. It’s been a process figuring out where to put all my kitchen stuff. The cupboards under the sink actually fit in a lot. I might buy an electric rice cooker. I don’t need another appliance, but I need rice. I also have a little waste digester that makes mulch. I’ve been giving it to my friends, but I’ll be able to scatter it on the terrace garden. 

Have you used any of the shared spaces yet?

I harvested some rosemary from the garden the other day. I watched YouTube on the downstairs TV in the community space the other day while I waited for my laundry. I was watching Never Too Small! They have lots of good tips.

Do you have a car?

I never wanted to buy a car to begin with. When I first came to Sydney, I lived quite far from here so I really needed to. 

I am American and I was going to school at Sydney Uni. It was really difficult to find housing.  Even though I'm a citizen here, people assumed that I was on a student visa and didn't want to rent to me.   I really didn't think that my career choice would make it so difficult to find housing, but it has been that way since I moved here sadly. I ended up having to go further out and moving into a place that was owned by my friend's parents. So I bought a car for that situation. 

Now because I live and work in Marrickville, I really don’t need one. I’ll save a lot. I’m from Southern California, so I don’t mind the driving, I just don’t like owning things. I like to be very intentional about my purchases.

Have you finished studying? 

No. Never. I’m currently doing my Master of Public Health. 

Do you have any favourite spots to go in Marrickville?

Because I work in Marrickville and one of my closest friends lives just down the street. I have gone to quite a few of the Vietnamese places here. I love banh mi. People are very partial to Marrickville Pork Roll, but I think there's plenty to choose from.

What is one aspect of your home that you’re loving?

Probably the colouring. I’m not sure if that's a good response, but I quite like Terracotta. The terracotta tiles remind me of home because Southern California is all very Spanish revival.

First published in
April 2024