Expat Gone Wild: Where's McGyver when you need him?

Expat Gone Wild: Where’s McGyver when you need him?

Apr 15, 2012 |  by  |  Art
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

They ride their trashy Dutch bikes like die-hard rickshaw cyclists in India, they know that going Dutch is synonymous for “baby, pay your own bill” and they stalk their naked neighbour in his curtainless flat just like he is stalking them. They are expats gone wild in Amsterdam and I am one of them! Let me share my stories about a foreigner’s life in this glorious town. You’re in La La Land before you know it.

Part 7: Save me, ’cause my landlord won’t

When your heating suddenly stops working, your boiler is falling apart and the plumber charges you several hundred Euros for passing by and having a minute-long look at it all while your washing machine is acting crazy and flooding the living rooms of all your neighbours…You’re probably in big trouble. Even more so, when you’re an expat. Welcome to my very personal housing disaster in Amsterdam! If you happen to have connections to McGyver, or a lawyer, please pass them along.

Housing is officially a complicated issue in this beautiful city, but if you think it’s equal for expats and Dutchies alike, you’ve been mislead. Thankfully, the picture above has not been taken in my living room. And yet, I did have all the issues described above last week. On top of that, my landlord loves to raise my rent to an extent that even my Dutch friends disapprove of. Why? Is it because my boiler has been coming apart for the last months? Is it because I regularly have to call the plumber to fix minor or major issues for about a million Euros? No, it’s about something else. As an expat I am not only famous for my exotic bike riding skills, my sexy clumsy Dutch and my deep affection for bitterballen. I am also an easy target for rental rip-offs. McGyver would agree after he fixed my problems for free.

Bazaar bargaining

Have you ever been to one of these humongous oriental bazaars in the Middle East? They’re actually very impressive. Not only because you can get almost every item imaginable there, from amazing food to shiny glitter pants. The even more exciting thing about them is that you can test your bargaining skills over some super-fake Gucci bags while knowing up front that no matter what you’ll do and how much you’ll end up paying, the clever salesman in front of you is totally screwing you over. That’s kind of what renting an apartment in Amsterdam looks like for foreigners.

In the best case, they know that they are being overcharged and they at least try to create a win-win situation like getting two fake Gucci bags for the price of one. That’s something I am working on with my landlord now in order to afford a real Gucci bag one day. In the worst case, expats have no idea about all that which means they should probably read up on their tenant rights. Or call McGyver. Or both. At least that’s what I would do after I took a bath in my flooded living room.

Featured image by Margaret Killjoy.

Sharing is caring!