Expat Chronicles: Progress, progress
Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement as we’re making this transition to a new home country. We’ve been in The Netherlands for three weeks now. While there have been days where it feels like we’re not making any headway on our goals, over three week’s time we have certainly gotten somewhere. Let me catch you up!
Yesterday Brandon received news that his student residence permit has been approved. He’s the first of us to officially have the right to live here! Lucky guy. Plus, as a student he gets discounts on all sorts of things.
I started my self-employed residence permit two weeks ago, but the application is not yet complete. I have been jumping through various legal hoops required as part of application process. Today another important element, my business registration papers, have arrived from the KvK. Early next week my application will be complete. I hope to receive approval sometime in late July or early August, fingers crossed. The kids’ immigrant status is 100% dependent upon mine. If I am accepted, they will be too!
From the United States we arranged for temporary housing via AirBnB for our family in June and July. We hoped that we might be able to move into our new house by August. After talking to realtors here, we realized that wasn’t remotely possible. After you have a purchasing contract, the real estate process takes about 45 days in the USA. Here it’s typically 2.5 - 3 months.
For about two weeks we’ve been looking for a rental apartment that would allow us to rent on a monthly basis. In all our searching we found exactly one apartment that fit our minimal criteria. We’ll take it! It’s expensive, but not as expensive as a vacation rental like AirBnB. Plus, it’s a great location in town!
Or, at least, I hope we’ll take it. We started the acceptance paperwork yesterday and hit some glitches based on our residence status. It seems like no matter what we try to do, we hit such glitches! I can totally see why people hire relocation companies. Usually there is a way around things, but we never know if or when things will work themselves out. It often depends on the attitude of the person assisting us, which can cause a lot of stress and extra work. I tell myself that this is the start up phase. Things will get easier when we have the basics in place. Right? Right.
Meanwhile, we’ve been diligently searching for a home to purchase. Buying a home is actually cheaper for us than renting and more realistic. Rentals are harder to find than houses for sale! Since we have really specific criteria related to fitting the Longarm sewing machine and a home workspace for me, we’re looking for something rather “large” by Dutch standards, at least for our price point.
Last weekend we put an offer on a house that our purchasing agent assured us was a great buy. We offered 7,000 euros above asking, as per the agent’s advice, but we got passed up for another offer. The sellers received several offers at their open house - that’s the kind of market we’re dealing with!
But, here’s the good news…. we have a verbal contract on the house in these photos right now! We’re working with the realtors to make it official. This house is in a safe neighborhood for little kids and nearby some great schools. It’s smaller than some of the houses we’ve been looking at, but it will work. Fingers crossed!
Here’s the silly thing - it’s been sooooo hard to open a Dutch bank account! I find this so ironic. After all we’re trying to give them our money, haha. Aria said it’s like a “reverse robbery”.
In this culture you must have a Dutch bank account for many basic functions, including my residence permit application, so this has been a priority from the beginning. Of course I researched how to do it, what we would need, etc. But, unfortunately, we keep getting turned down from every bank we visit, whether we have an appointment or not. Different banks are asking for different paperwork and none of it is easy to get.
Finally, yesterday, we were able to set up a digital Dutch bank account called Bunq. It’s a little expensive on the monthly fees, but it will tide us over until we’re more “normal” and the regular Dutch banks can feel better about allowing us to have an account. So silly.
Stitched in Color goes EU
Hey, so now that I’m an official business here in the Netherlands, it’s time to start acting like it. Today I’ve changed my website to charging in euros, rather than dollars. The prices for patterns and classes are staying the same numbers, which means they’re just slightly more for you folks in the U.S. At the same time, my profit margin is a bit thinner, since I’ll be paying VAT taxes myself. In the EU taxes are included in product prices, not added on afterward, and taxes apply to most every transaction.
I’ve received my first order this afternoon for a pattern sold in euros, so all seems to be well. If you have any technical difficulties, concerns or suggestions about this, feel free to let me know!
What about quilting services? Well, they’re coming! I can fit the longarm into our rental apartment, which we gain access to July 17th, if all goes well. When I know that I can accept orders, I’ll let you know. I’m eager to get back to work. I really miss your beautiful quilts and the wonder of giving texture to flimsies!
Thank you for taking this adventure with me. I know this post was heavy on technical details. What should I talk about for my next Expat Chronicles? Food, getting around, culture? Let me know what you’re most curious about!