Day -12: Finding A Place To Live

There is a saying: the first step is the hardest. In the case of moving to Brussels, I’d be inclined to say that sentiment isn’t terribly accurate. It would be more accurate to say that find accommodation is the hardest step.

Brussels has a high temporary population. Large numbers of it’s residents are stagiaries within the EU institutions, who are there for six months at a time, or attached to MEPs, NATO, the branches of foreign governments or the many diplomatic establishments. From investigation on Expatriates.com and Appatager.be, there is certainly enough supply to meet the demand from the constantly moving population.

That doesn’t make flat hunting any easier. After all, you have to deal with a multi-lingual country, which is not easy when you’re only just learning to speak French and only have a loose grasp of Flemish. There are, of course, translations services available online, but it’s hard to put faith in Google Translate and other such services when they cannot accurately account for grammar changes.

There are also risks involved. Flying to another country in order to ensure that a flat is suitable and actually exists is an expensive business. The alternative, arriving and staying in hostels or hotels until you can find a place to rent  also has the potential to be expensive and carries the risk of not being able to find something suitable in a reasonable time. Which leaves the easiest, but probably riskiest option, putting down a deposit without visiting a flat or meeting the owner.

The advantage is that you arrive knowing you have somewhere you can call yours, but on the other hand you have no idea if you are subject to one of the old cons in the book until you arrive to find the people there have no idea who you are.

Never the less, this is the start of an interesting journey, and hopefully by the end of the week I will actually be sorted out with a pleasant flat near the European Parliament. Then, the work can really begin.

Moving Annoyance – Which Books and Where To Put Them?

Del Lib ScreenshotI own 577 books. I know this because I use the excellent Delicious Library to keep track of books I’ve loaned to people.

Moving from a two bedroom flat in which every room has a 6 foot tall bookcase into a single room means that less than a quarter of these books can actually accompany me. The result of this is much debate as I go through my collect and decide what I can’t live without.

The bulk of the books I’ve taken with me are related to my degree in some way – politics biographies, political philosophy treatises, textbooks, Greek and Roman classics, commentaries and so on. Some are distantly related, but useful – history books covering Europe, Scotland, Britain and Germany through various key stages for example.

All this has left only two shelves for my fiction collection.

What I judge to be essential enough to me to fill this space probably says a lot about me. It includes a whole swathe of dystopian fiction – 1984, Brave New World, We, Fahrenheit 451, Gormenghast, Live at Golgotha and Catch-22; the essential Tolkien works; my favourite Iain M Banks’ books – Use of Weapons and Excessions; a few modern classics – How To Kill A Mockingbird, The City and The Pillar. The books I’ve been strictest with are Terry Pratchett and my massive collection of sci-fi books – I haven’t taken a single Pratchett and the only sci-fi novel I’m taking other than Banks is Asimov’s Foundation.

On top of these, there are about 50 books which were occupying my To Be Read stack – previously a monstrous collection consisting of four piles spread around every flat surface in my bedroom.

I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to fit all these books. Not least given that I’ll have to buy more books for Uni in the near future. It’s a hard life being a book-geek.