Owning a lot in strata management is a bit like Christmas day: don’t you remember how you felt when Santa bought you a bike only to have your parents to tell you to share it with the kid next door. One minute you own it, and the next minute your life mentors are using quaint terms like ‘sharing is caring.’ Well what is it, mine? Or everyone’s?

Well, when you move into strata, you are told by your solicitor that you own your lot, only to find out that you’re sharing with everyone else. You pay full price, and to your amazement – you find out you only own the air space that you live in.

When living in a strata complex, nothing is sacred: although you are given guaranteed title of your lot, you are connected to your neighbour and share the common property with everyone else. Even your balcony is common property and is governed by your neighbors.

It may be your castle, but you have no freedom to behave how you would like. You can’t smoke on the balcony, you can’t make changes to your premises without everyone agreeing, you can’t even have noisy sex without you breaching the requirements under the bylaws. You have no freedom.

It’s a bit like Australia believing in the freedom of speech, but only free if everyone thinks so. Most of us have no freedom of speech, because if we insult anyone we have breached the Racial Discrimination Act.

The challenge of strata living is how we deal with this riddle. How we can have our own castle, have the freedom to live the way we want, but accommodate the necessities of sharing.