Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Race Against Time

In just about 6 short weeks we will be leaving Barcelona forever.  Ok, maybe not forever, but for the immediate future.  Knowing a move was likely imminent, I've been preparing for this day for months but haven't been able to actually pull the trigger on anything up until now.  Because we didn't know for sure if we were moving to Amsterdam or back home, I didn't know which "to do" list I needed to set into motion and yes, they were two very different lists.

If we were going back home, I needed to sell EVERYTHING.  There is no need for any electronics or IKEA furniture to back to the US with us.  I didn't have to worry about schools but I did have to worry about housing since our house is currently rented.  We needed to get another car as well.

If we were moving to Amsterdam, then we would bring everything but in addition we had to figure out schools, find a place to live, get a new car and so much more.  But I wouldn't need to sell as much at least!

No matter where we landed we knew that we needed to give our 3 months notice to our landlord, make apartment repairs, arrange to return the car (it's a lease) and start packing up our lives.

Now that we know our game plan, I can put into motion my Amsterdam list.  Things are already being checked off left and right and that's a good feeling.  But then we only have 6 weeks left so essentially I need to get these things done before we can go.

I've been slowly purging out the apartment of things we don't need.  Clothes that we no longer wear get donated.  Winter clothes have been packed away and put in the garage.  I've been slowly purging out the playroom of toys the kids don't use and puzzles that I won't have time to do again until I get to Amsterdam.  I'm making notes of the repairs that have to be done in the next few weeks and things that need to be re-assembled (like the glass cabinet doors to the built ins that we took down in the playroom - boys + glass = disaster).  Slowly I've been putting things away and packing things up.  The movers will do the lion's share but it makes me feel slightly more organized to get some of these things done myself.  And my "hope" is that it will leave less room for error with the movers.

Speaking of movers, I've already interviewed three.  Yes, things are now moving at warp speed.  I assume in the next week or so we'll be told who the mover of choice will be and we will put a definitive date in the calendar for our moving day.  We're aiming for the last 2 days of June but that week also has a big holiday and most movers won't work on the weekends.  We also have to do our walk thru with our landlord.  She's coming in the beginning of June to do a pre walk thru so we know exactly what repairs we are and aren't responsible for in order for us to get back our 4 months of security (this is not the USA folks) that she currently holds in an account.

In the meantime, we are starting to work towards our lives in Amsterdam.  With a school now chosen, we now need to figure out where we will live.  As the school does not have a bus and I will have to take them to and from each day, plus they get out at noon on Wednesdays, it needs to be within a reasonable distance or else I will be spending the better part of the day in the car or on bicycle (and yes, we will bike there like everyone else).  That at least helps us to narrow down the scope.

But this also means that we are moving back to suburban life.  School is about 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam.  And quite honestly, I'm tired of apartment living.  Though I did tell the relocation people we are not against an apartment if they can assure me that I won't hear the neighbor's shower turning on at 6:15 every morning - ie, it needs to be well insulated as I don't want to hear everything my neighbors are doing and vice versa.

Josh and I are torn on suburban life.  Barcelona has been our first experience in true city living.  We lived without a car for 3 years and walked everywhere.  And even with the car now, we still walk the majority of the time.  We will miss that piece.  But then, I guess we will now bike places instead.  And while we are torn about missing the easy access to everything, we are also excited about the idea of being in a house (or at least a duplex) again.  Having privacy and a yard for the kids to play in that has.... grass.  They really miss grass.  And they are only going to be kids once.  They have enjoyed city life but they are really into the idea of having grass again.  I can't say I blame them.

And so we've been looking from afar - online to see what's out there.  And it looks like, at this moment, we can get most everything we want in a home if we live in the burbs.  That being said, I have no idea where in this town these houses are located - they could be in a totally crappy part of town and that's why the rent is low compared to other areas.  I have no idea.  But that's why we've sent a list of the houses we like to our relo people with a note saying, we like these styles and these features but have no idea if they will work from a location standpoint.  As of yesterday the relocation people are starting the hunt for us based on what we've sent them and on the questionnaire we've filled out.

We are also planning a physical house hunt soon.  We are firming up the dates and trying to work out the logistics but aiming for the second week in June.  We will have to pull the kids out of school for 2 days but really would like them to be involved in the process this time - and it will be nice for them to see (hopefully) where they will live before we arrive mid August, the day before school starts.

Yes, we ended up rescheduling our flights so that we can start school on time.  As I mentioned before, they take their absenteeism very seriously and we were going to have to deal with the truant officer if we did not start on time.  These are all adjustments to a new culture, just like we had to deal with when we moved to Spain.  And while they are new adjustments, I think we are more aware that they are going to happen and have certain expectations accordingly.  And we laugh about them at times too.

For instance, I was talking to the relo people yesterday and she asked if we wanted the apartment semi furnished or Dutch empty.  In my American mind (and even in my Spanish mind), semi furnished means appliances (the big ones) and perhaps some furniture.  And empty would mean that we would have to possibly supply the appliances (in Spain often you bring your appliances with you even for a rental) and all of the furniture.  What I didn't know is that Dutch empty (and I'm so glad I asked) means seriously empty.  Like no curtains and even NO FLOORING.  Yes, you read that right.  Josh even confirmed it at work.  See, learning something new.  We got a good chuckle out of that and I told the realtor that no, we don't want Dutch empty.  Semi furnished to them means all appliances are there and curtains.  We just move in the furniture.  That to me, sounds perfect.

So here we go... we're in a race against time.  Kyle and Kelly come to visit this weekend and I told myself once they head back, it's no holds barred on getting things done around here with repairs and moving and all of the detail work.  There will be many updates to come, I have no doubt.  I have a bunch of entries about Barcelona that I need to finish up as well so need to get those done too before we leave!!


PS - I also think I have a new name for the blog (but will keep this URL) thanks to my friend Eleanor - will keep you posted once I get a chance to update everything!

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