Wednesday, September 18, 2013

11 days to go

Here I am with some updates!

I guess the last two posts were a bit boring for those of you who are not looking for a job in the Netherlands and are only here for a sneak peek into my little, to make up for that, I'm telling you what's been going on over the past days.

I am leaving on Sunday September 29th, from Milan, flying Easyjet. It's a journey of hope, with 2 luggages, 1 train, 1 bus, 1 flight, and 1 more train.

I can hear you say now...."what on earth are you doing this for?!"'re right :(
Sometimes I am so stingy (especially when it comes to flights) that, just to save a few bucks, I can embark on journeys that would make Frodo shiver. On top of that, 3 days after the booking I was quite disappointed to find in my inbox the KLM newsletter announcing seasonal offers on flights to Amsterdam. Ouch.

But let bygones be bygones, I've stocked up on books and I have enough readings for all that traveling. However, there're still many entries on my to-do list!

First: find a house. Initially I wanted to start looking for an apartment once in Utrecht, so that I could see the neighbourhoods and be aware of distances, etc. Therefore I booked a flat for 2 weeks on Airbnb. Sadly, it is a bit costly...I tried to look for something cheaper, and I was even willing to share a flat with a woman, her two children and another tenant, but things didn't work out and I "fell back" on a more expensive solution. This miniature studio, with burners in the middle of the entrance/living room/kitchen and no extractor fan, clearly has a high opinion of itself and adjusted the price on its ego, not size.

Second: get my documents in order. I started to get information on the bureaucratic steps I need to take to lawfully live in the netherlands, and I found out about the existence of this mystic number: the BSN (Burger Service Nummer). Despite the name, it is not Mc Donald's take-away line, but the expat's holy grail in the Netherlands. Without the BSN in the Netherlands YOU DO NOT EXIST. You cannot rent a place, open a bank account, work, get paid, or go to the doctor.

Our good-natured fiscal code is no match.
As you might have grasped, getting a BSN it's a necessary step for any other task, and the sooner you get it, the better. I then started to chase this magic number, and I found to my surprise that one of the requirements is being in a rental contract. Ah-ah. Loving this catch-22 situations.

I asked my temporary Airbnb host to sign me a document where he declares that I live at his place, and of course he turned me down: off-the books sublet is not just an Italian plague.

All right. After this I started looking for a different accommodation where they would let me register my contract. Waiting until I found a final accommodation was not really an option, as this might take some time and in the meantime I would be unable to open a bank account and receive my salary. Also, as I am quite restless, I already had scheduled an appointment with the Utrecht Municipality on the day after my arrival, to register my BSN. I didn't really want to reschedule that. So there I was, quite in a hurry to find someone willing to declare that no, Linda does not live under a bridge.

Luckily enough, one of my future colleagues is a super duper nice Italian guy who is really helping me a lot with my relocation. He asked his landlord if I can register my address at his place, and the landlord said YES! See how nice people are in the Netherlands???
Now I feel relieved!

The adventure got a happy ending, but I still learnt a lesson: do not wait till the last minute, start early instead!

So I had a second thought on my house-hunt project and I started looking for a long term accommodation from Italy. I was happy to find that rental prices are not as high as I had feared: I mean, they do ARE high, but not as high as I had figured.

Let's say that if you are willing to share a students' house with 3 other people, you might get a room starting at 300 € (of course it's not the Hilton and it's not Amsterdam). The closer you get to the city-center, the higher the number of housemates, and the cuter the room, the higher is the price you'll have to pay. Still the budget I gave myself (which, to be honest, was scaring the shit out of me) is now looking more than adequate and this is heartening.

A few notes on house-hunting in the Netherlands:

  • You do not get many replies (so far I only got 3 replies out of the 20-something applications I sent). Is it because Italians are not regarded as good housemates? Why, when we know how to make pasta and other such stereotypes. Meh.
  • Visiting a house before renting it is a girlie thing. There is even a "viewing" field in every ad, and very often the answer is "NO". Ain't pics enough? Get lost. I must admit I am not so annoyed by this habit, as it comes in pretty handy when you look for a house from abroad.

On Saturday I had a sort of Skype interview with the owner of a flat where I might rent a room. I thought it would be something of a chat, just to avoid exchanging emails, but it ended up feeling as a test. When we hung up I was quite tense. They were lovely, but had I knew that the call was so important to get the room, I would at last straightened my hair... I am, fingers crossed, hoping I get the room... Pleasepleaseplease say yes!

The location is great, the house is super cute, my hopefully future housemate is a stunning blonde and a sweetie, the rent is fair, everything is perfect... There is only one tiny downside to this is place, and that's that it is only available in November, which means I should start looking for another temporary accommodation for October, but they were kind enough to say that I could stay at their place for a few days before I take the room...

Guys, please, cheer on me!!!

Sorry for the extra-long post. I'll try to write less but more often ;)

Until next time!


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