After the bad luck of losing the place we’d rented for the next year, we had to go back onto the house hunt. Looking for rental properties from abroad is, at best, difficult, and at worst, soul-destroying. We were not looking forward to it at all.
The estate agent who found us the first place, though, was keen not to lose his commission. So he scrambled around and identified another place that might suit. Maybe. It was more expensive, though he managed to get us a break on the price. But it looked suitable, so we went out to see it (we’d been planning to visit schools on Monday, so we were going to be in the Netherlands anyway.)
The one thing that the estate agent hadn’t explicitly confirmed to us was the rental time. I had asked him to look for a house that was available for a year. He thought (or says he thought) that I meant a maximum of one year. We spoke to him about 15 minutes before the viewing, and he said that the place was only available for eight months.
Our hearts sank.
We went to the viewing anyway. It’s a very pleasant, large place, owned by a nice couple, with four kids (one, a 7 month old baby girl, was there the whole time and flirted outrageously with us). They’re going to the Netherlands Antilles for a while. We talked it over, and they said they would consider whether they could extend their trip from eight months to a year. If they could, we said, we’d take the house.
They said they had to think it over.
We left, feeling deflated. We reckoned we had, at best, a 50% chance to get the place.
So we went to open a bank account for me, which was a whole ‘nother round of trouble. (If ABN Amro treats all its potential customers like they treated me, I can see why they’re a takeover target. ING, though not able to actually give me an appointment, had a motivated and intelligent man who helped me get the paperwork I needed to physically sign. All praise (and all my business) to them.)
And I got a Dutch mobile phone. It’s a prepay phone, bottom of the line, but it’s a phone I can use to make & receive calls without paying a fortune to my British provider. I’ll dual-run the phones for a while, because I’m going to need phone capability in both cultures.
We returned home, trying to turn the few success in the day into cause for some cheer. Not easy
But this morning, I got a phone call from our estate agent. The owners of the house are willing to rent it out for 12 months, less 1 week. 51 weeks is good enough.
So, once again, we have a house. It’s in Oostzaan, close enough to my job that I may cycle on good days; the bus will take me close enough to walk the rest of the time. The school is about 4 minutes’ slow walk away, and the local nursery is another two or three minutes beyond that (though getting places may be a problem).
Oostzaan, as any of my Dutch readers may already know, is notable for voting overwhelmingly either socialist or communist in national elections, and for being the founding place of Albert Heijn, the Dutch grocery chain. Having worked on the legal affairs of a supermarket, and dealt with the economics around staff pay, I find these two facts plausible.