Zoe, Luke, Ari and Teresa

organic community building and giving up car ownership
— at
Nightingale Studios
Nightingale Anstey — Laneway
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Zoe, Luke and Ari live in Nightingale Anstey - Laneway with their cat, Nathan. Zoe’s mother Teresa lives in the neighbouring community, Nightingale Anstey - Station. 

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

ZOE: I'm a graphic designer. I studied in Canada. I’m originally from Brisbane.

LUKE: I'm a writer and poet, and I teach creative writing. Zoe and I both grew up in Brisbane, but we met in Melbourne and then discovered we were probably at the same parties and venues in Brisbane many times.

ARI: I’m Ari, I like soccer. I play piano and this year in high school I’ll be playing guitar too.

TERESA: I’m a retired person. I used to work at Queensland University. My family lived in Brisbane for 40 years.

ZOE: But before that, you’d lived everywhere.

TERESA: Yes. Six years in Canada, two years in Sweden, and 24 in the UK.

How did you come to live in your Nightingale Anstey homes?

TERESA: About 12 years ago, after my husband died, I came down to Melbourne because Zoe’s my only relative in Australia. I bought a little house designed by [Nightingale founder] Jeremy McLeod.

I followed his career, and we eventually went to one of the Nightingale information sessions. We thought it would be a good idea to sell my house and buy a smaller place, which would mean we could be fairly close. That's how it's worked out, and it's wonderful. 

LUKE: We ballotted separately. Then we got the call to say we got our first choices. It was an amazing day.

TERESA: I actually cried.

ZOE: It felt as if we'd won the lottery! 

What made you want to live in a Nightingale building?

LUKE: We've been familiar with Nightingale through Teresa's house, and just always loved the architecture. 

ZOE: We were on the mailing list for a few years.

TERESA: I think also that these particular apartments are cheaper than the equivalent, because of the construction, and the fact that there are no cars, and there's a communal laundry - all of those things.

Did you have any reservations about moving into a Nightingale building?

ZOE: I certainly felt nervous about downsizing, and I felt nervous for Ari because I knew he didn't want to give up the back garden and the trampoline at the place we were renting in Thornbury. But there's always something you've got to give up, and some things you gain. 

How have you found the experience of downsizing?

ZOE: It's been way easier than we thought. We are three people, one of us being a kid, and I think that comes with a whole pile of extra stuff that a couple wouldn't necessarily have. We have a huge amount of Lego, and that is not something that I had, before I had a child.

This move was a great impetus to get rid of a whole pile of rubbish. A lot had to go, but we don't miss it. We have to be more mindful now of what we can bring into the apartment, and I think that's really healthy.

Have you got involved with the community since moving in?

LUKE: The community is incredible. There are so many lovely people in the building who feel the same way as us, in that they’re really keen to connect, but there's also a self-awareness and respect for each other's space.

TERESA: Even though there was a lot of security at my little house, I feel more secure here. And you don't have to mix with everyone. It's your choice.

ZOE: I think more introverted or private people might mistakenly be frightened off by the idea of this big community -

TERESA: But it seems to develop naturally according to how much you want to get involved.

LUKE: It is very organic in that way. It's not like there's some manifesto! We're all feeling our way and everyone seems to respect that.

Did you have a car before you moved?

ZOE: We had a Renault that died about five years ago - a very painful, slow, expensive death. We decided around that time that we couldn't afford a new car, and we didn't feel that we needed one. So we've been using GoGet for about five years. It's enabled us not to own a car, which is excellent.

LUKE: It's so much cheaper than having a car.

ZOE: It is, when you crunch the numbers. 

How have you found living in west-facing apartments over the summer months, with no air conditioning?

TERESA: Wonderful. If it really gets very hot, I just pull the blinds down and turn the fan on. I'm retired, so I can put my feet up.

LUKE: It certainly was one of the things I was worried about - especially when you get those consecutive days over 40 degrees. But so far it's been amazing. I make sure to lock the cool air in, and put the blinds down in the afternoon. But I've actually started getting lazy with it, because the place stays so cool. 

What has surprised you most about living here?

ZOE: It's quiet. I was worried that we would hear a lot of noise from our upstairs or downstairs neighbours, and we really haven't at all. 

LUKE: Our neighbour said to us, ‘I'm so sorry about the party,’ and we were like, ‘What party?’ Apparently they had this party until 2am, right above us. We didn’t hear anything.  

Are there many other kids in the building?

ARI: There are two others. The closest to my age is a girl who's seven.

ZOE: I think it's unusual to have an older child in an apartment. In Australia we still have an idea that it's somehow annoying for older kids to live in apartments. But I think it's great that people's attitudes are slowly changing. 

LUKE: There's so much happening in this area. Ari is realising that you can just use these green areas around the apartment; he’ll have a friend over and they'll go down to the bike path or up to Moreland Station and play some soccer, or go to Bulleke-bek Park. 

What are your favourite places in Brunswick?

ARI: I like Sydney Road and all the cool stuff there, like A1 Bakery.

LUKE: We became members at Glencairn Tennis Club, which had its 100-year anniversary last year. It's a beautiful little three-court club.

ZOE: Having Russel’s on the corner is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. 

Find out more about Nightingale Anstey — Station.

First published in
February 2023