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Worth the hassle?

November 4, 2010

It’s no secret that I’m not the hugest fan of our current apartment. The living room area is a smidge on the small side, there are no closets, the placement of the shower head is just silly, our stove/oven is hilariously bad – unless you like everything burnt on the bottom and, the piece de resistance, I hit my head on the sloped ceiling in the bedroom at least… um… twice a month. The place is just so very “meh.”

But. The price is great, the location isn’t terrible and the whole place is perfectly adequate for our purposes. Despite our many complaints, the few pros out way the many cons when you factor in the hassle of moving.

Ugh. MOVING. Does reading that word make you shiver a bit? Because it should.

It’s difficult in the U.S., but in Belgium?? Ooof. If you want to move from one apartment to another, here is a sampling of what is required:

1. Find new place via websites, word of mouth or, if you don’t mind paying extra, a real estate agent.

2. Visit potential places at odd times dictated by the property owner. “5pm on a Tuesday good for you? No? You work. Ok, how about 3am Wed.?”

3. Miracle of miracles, you find a place you like and there is no “option” on it – you take an option, think on it for a day or two, submit an offer and, if accepted, you meet on another date to sign papers.

4. You sign the lease and learn you need to set up things like bank guarantees and that the minimum lease is 3 years. THREE! If you cancel after one year you have to pay 2 month’s rent as penalty, if you cancel after 2 years, it’s a penalty of 1 month’s rent.

5. After signing lease on the new place you have to contact your current landlord IMMEDIATELY (if you have not already done so) and inform them that you are canceling your lease. Sometimes it is written into your contract that you must call and send a registered letter THREE months before you move. So that’s fun.

  • Extra special clause: If you do not make the 3 month cut off, you need to make sure your place has a new rentor by the time you wish to move out. Which means from the date you notify your landlord you need to have your apartment “viewable” at all times.

6. Cancel your internet and whatnot at the one place and have it set up at your new place. I’m sure customer service at these companies is top notch and that they live to serve you, so this should be e-a-s-y.

7. Hire a moving company of some sort. Unless you have family that you can pay in beer & pizza. But even then, you usually need the moving van + some professionals to move your stuff in and out of these tricky Belgian apartments where the only option is often to move lots of your stuff through windows. This is also fun.

8. Move.

9. Notify commune of the move. Communes are notoriously easy to deal with. This should be a breeze.

10. Have a stiff drink.

*** Disclaimer*** I know that I can’t complain too much! When we move back to the U.S. there will be a few things added to this list (like de-registering from the commune) but others will be removed. As far as the physical moving goes, a professional company will take care of everything for us. Like, from the packing to the lifting to the driving. Everything. I watched my friends move over the weekend. It was amazing.

Generally, just thinking about that list of To-Do’s was enough to keep BF and I from browsing the apartment listings. No amount of patio space could possibly be worth the hassle of sitting on the phone with Telenet or packing up all of our stuff. Just to move where? 3 km into the center of Leuven? Not gonna happen.

But then… the ceiling was leaking a bit last week. And the oven wouldn’t heat properly. And the window broke. So I hopped on

And saw this:

From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment
From Apartment

Ummmm….. yeah. Kind of stunning, no?
Apartment in the CENTER of Leuven. Just off the Vismarkt. Dates to the 1600s. Is some sort of listed historical building. Parking is included. It’s within our budget.

We signed the lease on Saturday. We move in mid-January.

Worth the hassle? I think so.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 4:22 pm

    wow, that appartment is worth a lot of hassle!!!

    you just made me curious: if you made a moving list for the usa, which tasks would be on there?

    • brittspencer permalink*
      November 5, 2010 10:06 am

      Thanks! We’re pretty excited! Also – I was looking at the pictures you posted of your place, the kitchen transformation is incredible!! Well done šŸ™‚

      As for moving to the US (from Belgium), the additional tasks would mostly be paperwork related – lots of canceling services (phone, internet, etc.), deregistering from the Commune and signing lots of documents to transfer our contracts from our Belgian offices to their U.S. counterparts.

      Or, did you mean a moving list if you are going from one U.S. apartment to a new one? In that case, I think things would be pretty similar. You usually don’t have that “3 month” notice of cancellation thing and leases are almost never for more than a year. You can always renew your lease, but you are never locked in for 3 years. When it comes to physically moving, you typically rent a big truck and have your friends help but while the truck here is several hundred Euros, a similar truck costs $40 for a whole day. The service ppl (internet, cable, etc.) tend to bend over backwards to help you out, offer you discounts or do things to make you choose their company. As for picking an apartment – I think that part is fairly similar. The big difference would come into play if you were buying a house. Then, you would go to lots of “Open Houses” and often work with a realtor to make the purchase.

      • November 5, 2010 3:27 pm

        thanks for your compliment on the kitchen… that’s probably the kitchen in our little weekend house in the Ardennes that you saw. We renovated our house in Leuven several years ago. ….as typical Belgians we always seem to be renovating somewhere :p

        yeah the 3-6-9 leases can be difficult but I think we’re more protected as renters as a counter side. not sure.
        There’s more people moving in the US and therefore more competing firms maybe in the US ?

  2. Melissa permalink
    November 6, 2010 7:37 am

    Must book a Eurostar ticket to see this new apartment!

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