We have now officially signed the contract to live in an apartment in the center of Utrecht– yay! Living in an apartment in the city center in a building made centuries ago, I’m excited to live that dream! BUT, of course there’s a “but”, why wouldn’t there be a “but”, life would be so totally boring without buts! Anyway, BUT, preparing to move into an apartment abroad is more work than I thought.
Seriously annoying thing one is buying furniture. I thought this was one of those things I had nailed down. Whenever I’ve rented before (I’ve never bought a house), buying furniture was not something that I lost sleep over. It’s not difficult in the US. When I was younger, I had a more “flexible” approach to making sure I had the basic necessities. Step 1: show up to empty apartment, Step 2: ask neighbors for the wi-fi password (they’re too stunned at my audacity to do such a thing that I’ve never had a problem), and Step 3: order a bunch of shit online. I didn’t need someone to tell me that that wasn’t going to work here. But I had no idea that waiting for a couch for 8 – 10 weeks was completely standard. I absolutely don’t get this because you can’t get an apartment to rent more than 3 weeks before the moving date (many braver women before me have tried and failed), but you can’t get anything to furnish your place until 2 months later. Doesn’t make any sense. Although you can order some things to be delivered within a short period of time, it does limit your options. Clearly, yours truly isn’t going to be showing up without a plan to an empty apartment this time.
Seriously annoying thing two is curtains. Arguably, this should fall under “seriously annoying thing one”, but I find this extra annoying so I’m giving it its own category. I don’t think I’ve ever moved into a place without blinds or curtains or something. It’s not something I’ve thought about before moving to the Netherlands, but you are one lucky dog if you move into a place with something to shield you from the harsh judging eyes of the world. The Dutch are famous for ensuring that the outside world gets a little peak into their private lives. If you walk along the streets of Amsterdam, you will see EVERYTHING that goes on in someone’s apartment because many of them won’t shut their curtains (if they have them even!) . Last week, we had visitors from the US, and of course, we mentioned this fun fact to them. We were walking near the Vondelpark on their first day here and lo and behold, someone in their apartment had the curtains open while they were changing. This is a ground floor apartment near a major tourist attraction! So yes, no curtains. We were so happy to get an apartment with floor to ceiling windows, and now, we’re not so sure because… curtains. How does one install curtains in a 150 year old building without causing permanent damage? We’re about to find out.
And finally, seriously annoying thing three is that many places and events require a Dutch bank account. Getting a Dutch bank account is way harder than getting a bank account in the US. In the US, you pick a bank, you walk into the bank, tell them you want an account, and you walk out with one. Done! In order to get a Dutch bank account, you need to be registered. In order to be registered with the government, you need an address. To get an address you need to pay rent and show money in your Dutch bank account… you see my problem here? How has no one figured this one out already? Well, lucky for me, I have my more than understanding girlfriend to help. I can’t even buy shoes online here without a Dutch bank account, let alone conduct everyday business. I also can’t get a train pass because you need to order one in advance… using your Dutch bank card! Well, I hope I can register soon so that this is resolved, but right now, I am frustrated all the time! Just kidding, how can I be frustrated when I have unlimited access to Dutch cheese and Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate (SO GOOD)?