Househunting in a Foreign Land

Great news! I signed a lease today! It’s nearly my perfect apartment! Well, not really; it doesn’t have a gas stove, or an in-sink disposal, or even a two-basin kitchen sink, or bedroom closets, or any appliances (not even a fridge or oven), or a pantry, or decent cabinetry and countertops in the bathroom, and it’s “against the rules” to do grilling on my terrace (something about “smells” and “smoke” “antagonizing” the other tennants).

But you know what, it’s got two bedrooms (come visit!), a great living space (come party!), a nice view off the terrace (come drink beer with the sunset!), an elevator (come…elevate?), and (most importantly) an in-building electrified box garage in which I’m allowed to do my own mechanical work (you can find somewhere else to park). And it’s only 900 EUR/month. Check out that picture! Doesn’t it seem nice? Compared to the other places I saw, this is perfect. Continue reading “Househunting in a Foreign Land”

How not to order Euros

How’s a person supposed to get a large quantity of currency exchanged at a decent rate? I have no idea. Don’t go to a bank. Any bank. I don’t know how they get away with, like, anything they do. This particular incident could be adapted into a Seinfeld episode with very little embellishment.

People have, on occasion, told me I should start a blog. Usually my thoughts could be sufficiently summed up in pithy facebook or twitter posts to avoid writing more than a paragraph. But now I am moving to Europe, and I imagine I’ll have sufficient inspiration for more loquatious musings. Plus I’ll have more time to write on these international flights.

Things have been very busy for the last couple months, as things are wont to be when moving abroad. There’s the visa, the actual packing and moving part, and in my case shipping a car. I may or may not comment on these later (no promises). But one relatively minor task turned into much more of an ordeal than I would have expected. Words like “kafkaesque” or “seinfeldian” provide a rough summary within 140 characters, but to use those words to describe the process of a currency exchange demands more detail.

Going to Europe, one needs to have some Euros. I had a cashier’s check from an account closure that I thought I might take to a local bank (at which my parents were account holders) for an exchange. Plus I had a fair bit of cash in hand from craigslist sales. A suggestion had been made to me that “a brick of cash” is the easiest, most straightforward way to move money from one continent to the other, plus I would need a bunch for, you know, stuff. So with the cash I had, I thought I might get 5000 EUR. Continue reading “How not to order Euros”