This post topic will be the first of many as I am in the middle of flat hunting in Brussels. Now this can be an easy process for many, if your budget is unlimited. However, if you are watching your pennies (& who wouldn’t in these odd times) then you need to be a little more selective. In true drama queen style, everything I face is an “issue” and not an interesting obstacle to overcome. For instance, in Belgium the contract term is 3, 6 or 9 years and normally for my inner control freak that sounds perfect…. but not this time. I am only looking for one year so this initially complicates matters. There are many great areas to choose from in Brussels, from Woluwe St Pierre, Uccle, Ixelles etc etc but the inner Londoner in me has always decided that living near a metro is always the best solution. Regardless of the fact that trams and buses exist to help me travel from A to B – the inner Londoner has not fully comprehended this. So the list I have set myself is a simple 1 bedroom flat (which is DIFFERENT to a studio) in a nice area near a metro.
What single girl in the city wouldn’t want this? How difficult can this be?
The most recent viewing was yesterday. The advert description was “large airy 1 bedroom apartment in an interesting area” which translated to a small room which in total is one room and has a large ceiling and is placed in the late night convenience store area (some of you may recognise this as the “meat packing distract” (SATC)). The door on the front of the building was left open when we arrived and the guy showing us around whilst smoking explained that the owner was very fussy as to who he let stay in the apartment “you see, many families have come to see this lovely apartment (1 bedroom hole) and he is very selective as to who he would want to stay here.” My cynical mind goes into overdrive at this point – is this chain smoking unshaven bloke explaining to me that the owner is looking for a stable renter and wouldn’t mind a single girl staying in the family orientated building rather than another family??? Now although the chances of me having late night parties is fairly slim (tv addict) and I’m more likely to offer to babysit the other kids than stamp on them but still! Thats not the point here!
Other apartments have had the kitchen and sofa(bed) next to each other and a clothes line built into the ceiling to hang their clothes. One was on top of a bar, where the current occupant mentioned “no no of course you don’t hear any noise, its very quiet in this area actually, but don’t try using the garage as the owner doesn’t know we use it right now for our stuff…. WTF?? This hunt might actually kill me.
There is another issue of moving all my stuff – I have standard Ikea stuff, as do the majority of expats in Belgium and I have still thrown out the instructions for the bed and shelves but if I loose a screw between the 2 places, it could throw everything all off balance. It worries me. Hiring a lift, a van, removal men and then enlisting the time and energy of “friends.”
I say “friends” as it has to be a carefully selected bunch of people here, do they have cars? Do they know their screwdriver from a hammer? Can they put ikea furniture back together? (I certainly can’t) Or shall I just openly invite and promise free pizza to whoever actually helps?
Yes I am being fussy (yep you should see me in real life!) and I should probably look for other apartments (after being persuaded by friends) I will look for higher priced apartments (ugh) and I am hoping something comes up soon.