What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
Nothing really comes to mind. I can get most everything here that I can at home, with the exception of certain food products. I guess I would say more money, fewer clothes. But every traveller knows that rule.... :)
Moving to Netherlands
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
FINDING an apartment is the difficult part of moving to the Netherlands. Amsterdam is probably the most difficult place to search. People are on waiting lists for years to get even a small place. The more you are willing to spend, the faster you will find a place. Knowing people helps you find a goods place both in terms of getting advice on neighborhoods and in terms of hearing of vacant places. The best places never even get advertised--a friend will offer his place to another friend first.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
I live in a small flat. I have a large bedroom, a small open kitchen/living room, and a shower/toilet with no sink--so I have to use the kitchen sink. I consider this very below standards in the U.S. I did have to buy my own oven, refrigerator, and washing machine. Likewise, I had to carpet the place. To leave the floors bare was not an option--it was not a nice wood floor but more like construction material. This is pretty normal here, however, so getting the household items is easy and not too expensive.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
I signed up with an estate agent. Several times a week I had to call them and sign up to see apartments. They only allow 8 people to see any one place, so the process is competitive. In the end, I befriended one of the agents and he helped me secure a place. I paid a one month's finder's fee.
In terms of choosing neighborhood, I asked friends and colleagues. I luckily already lived in the Netherlands, just in another city. So I asked friends who already lived here where I should look. Finding someone who knows the city is key in Rotterdam. The difference between a good and bad neighborhood can be one street.
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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Housing is cheaper than in large cities in the US, but is not cheap. In my experience, however, I am happy with what I pay. My apartment is small, but I live in one of the best neighborhoods in Rotterdam and I can afford to live alone. In NY, I had to share an apartment with someone I'd just met.