I moved again, and it’s a funny feeling. A feeling of familiarity. A sort of, ‘oh, here we go again’.
It didn’t feel strange to be in the bedroom, it didn’t feel strange to be in a new house, and the positioning of the furniture didn’t feel unfamiliar either. The little noises of the upstairs neighbor were not uncommon, and the mattress I’m sleeping in was not uncomfortable nor was the ‘single bed’ situation. It’s more of a ‘here I am, realizing my attempts of downsizing haven’t been completely successful, not yet, and trying to find a coherence in organizing clothes, books, clothes, body lotions and toiletries, clothes, shoes and purses, clothes, earrings and necklaces, clothes, dishes and cutlery, clothes, tax papers and theater booklets, yoga mats, bedding and towels, cameras and cables, the occasional souvenir, and, hey, did I mention clothes…?
It is my fifth house in Amsterdam in less than five years. That’s how crazy the housing market is. Most of the houses you get to live in are temporary sublets from landlords or tenants who go traveling. Imagine that! Landlords and main tenants who travel, with this life certainty of a house, a place, a shelter, they can come back to ! Isn’t that THE LIFE? Life goals apart, my neighborhood remains the same, and it makes a difference. At the moment I’m writing at my neighborhood cafe which is now located 3 minutes far from my apartment (as opposed to ‘just downstairs’). Sharing a nice apartment with just one friend I happen to have a lot in common with, instead of having a variety of unknown flatmates, is quite a luxury as well.
The constant moving is by far the biggest challenge you face when living in Amsterdam. Although a problem indigenous to capital cities, I’ve the feeling the situation gets particularly creative over here. Most of the rooms/houses you find are available for a one to six months period, max. As for the rest, the list of requirements is usually long: no pets – no smoking – no couples is the usual story. But sometimes there are gender requirements, other times you should be a young professional, working in this specific field or the other, or you should be a vegetarian. And you have to, of course, be sociable, have a regular schedule and a steady income. And all this, sometimes, for just a one-month rental, at the cost of almost half of your monthly salary. Oh, and what’s more, you usually have to go through an interview with all members of the household. Finally, they all have to agree on the person, after they have seen a bunch of people both struggling for that 5 square meter room and trying to look cool.
When I think about this I realize I’ve been very lucky since I first moved to Amsterdam. I’ve been sharing houses or apartments with just another friend, for the most part, and thank god, I’ve never went to any of the aforementioned interviews, although I “interviewed” a few people myself, and it was always a slightly uncomfortable position to be at.
New house, new life. Or be ready to embrace the ferris wheel ride, to be more accurate. It took me time to getting used to living in the Westerpark area, but I’d better cherish it because it seems I’m staying over awhile longer. And SOON I’m writing about my favorite ‘shelters’ around the borough. Stay tuned.