Saturday, September 15, 2012

Everyone says it'll be an adventure, but the truth is it's going to suck a lot first

I feel as though I'm living in the book "If You Give a Pig a Pancake", which is extremely similar to the more commonly known "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", but I've read the pig one recently so I'm going with that.  In it a girl gives a pig a pancake, and he then wants syrup, gets sticky, wants a bath, somehow ends up trying on all her clothes, some other stuff involving a fashion show, and then builds a treehouse, using glue which gets him sticky again, which reminds him of the maple syrup so he wants another pancake.  It's one of those books.

Or maybe it's more like a version of the song "There's a hole in the bucket dear Liza, dear Liza", if anyone actually remembers all the verses.

There are very few things I think I really need right now.
--a place to live
--a bank account
--and a phone would be nice, though Dan needs it more as he's used to having internet on the go and I can just call my parents on Skype if need be.

So here's how my (somewhat reverse) version of the pig book goes:

Ultimately, I need a cell phone.  Before I get a cell phone, I need a bank account.  Before I can get a bank account, I need a rental contract, I think to prove that I actually live here.  I also need something called a BSN which is a personal registration number that all people who live here need to have.  Also before I get the BSN I need a rental contract.  So housing is the number one priority.  But in order to find a house, you basically have to sign up with rental companies in order for them to pay any attention to you, and to do that you usually need to enter your phone number.

And that's the short version of the book.  There are other branches that tie in.
--We tried to get a Skype phone number, which you can do for a bit of money, but you need to be a resident of the Netherlands and have info that proves that.  Does anyone know if Skype was designed by the Dutch?
--Apparently, you're supposed to get your BSN within about a week of being here.  But finding an apartment is supposed to take 'at least a few weeks'.
--You need to have health insurance that kicks in before you start work.  On the application, they need your BSN.  Dan doesn't start work until 1 Oct, which gives us two weeks yet, but we are no where near to finding an apartment, so it seems he may have to start work later, or get paid under the table, I'm not really sure how the Dutch handle that one.
--And here's the one that really has me scared, though it doesn't quite fit the pig/pancake model.  The Dutch housing market is TIGHTLY controlled, it seems to be so no one gets a place they can't afford, or someone who makes a lot can't get a really cheap place, those are saved for people who make less money.  There are also often restrictions on how many people can live in a place.  Places around 750e (e is standing in for the Euro sign, as I'm not sure how to insert it in blogger and I'm on a rant and don't want to take the time to look) or under seem to be only for one person, though this (I think) is often at the discretion of the landlord (apartments around 750e in the places we're looking are often small 1 bedrooms).  So many of those are not for us.  But many places, so that the landlord knows you can afford the rent, often have the caveat that you make 3-4 times the rent amount, but this seems to be an unwritten rule and completely up to the landlord.  If a landlord wants 4 times the rent in monthly salary, we could afford a place for 625e (net) (it seems they want net and not gross).  So there's a clear problem there.  If a landlord wants 3 times the rent in monthly salary, we could afford a place for 830e (net).  So our window is really small for rent cost--750-830, but again this ruling is only explicitly stated in a few places so I have no idea if the places we're looking at online are even available for us to rent, which is really frustrating.  I feel almost as if the Dutch are telling Dan that he doesn't really make enough to keep two people on his salary.  That he doesn't make enough to have a wife who doesn't work--when of course I really want to work, I just probably won't be able to as I will never be fluent in Dutch in the time I'm here, or the fact that all jobs go first to EU citizens (which I do agree with as a sound rule, it just sucks for me), so the only museum job I may be able to find is as a tour guide to Americans here on vacation, and I think I'd rather shoot myself--maybe just a pinkie toe off or something not too vital, but I'm pretty sure I'd still rather shoot myself--and that's taking into account the fact that Dutch hospitals don't believe in pain medication (though that's probably another post).

So congratulations if you made it to the end.  And if any of you have the desire to comment, if it's anything positive or encouraging or how to solve my problem (unless you actually know, like literally), keep it to yourself.  I'm in a bitching mood, so if you have any stories that you want to share about how your life is absurdly complicated at the moment, I'd LOVE to hear about it.


  1. Beth, I can order you guys a global phone and send it over. Or you can get a calling card to make calls if they still have regular pay phones. I can get you a phone fairly quickly: send me an email and I can order it today!Liz Butter

  2. Can you rent a phone? Sorry to hear about your vicious moebius strip.