09.24.08

How to move in Italy, Part 4

Posted in Ancona, culture at 7:02 am

It wouldn’t be a move without a few glitches, would it?

Just before we started moving things in to the new house, I called to get the utilities switched into my name at the new house. I read the meter, and wrote down all the meter numbers and sat down to call the different companies. Everything seemed to go really smoothly. The gas guy came and went in about 5 seconds. The water company didn’t even need to come. Electricity was easy. And the phone company even sent me text messages reminding me of when the technician would come to my house to hook up the phone.

And then it all went downhill. The guy from Telecom Italia showed up right on time and went straight to work checking the phone jacks. I explained to him that the phone sometimes rang and I could hear people talking. “No problem,” he says. We head downstairs to where all of the wires come into the building, and he immediately looks very concerned. He calls his supervisor. He looks things up on this enormous cell phone he was carrying. Finally he breaks the bad news: there aren’t any phone lines left for me to have. I told him that someone lived in this apartment six months ago, and they surely had a phone. But apparently in the meantime someone who didn’t have a phone took over that line. He explained to me that he would go back to the office and explain the situation to his supervisor, who would be in touch.

The next day, sure enough, he calls. He apologizes and says that he will be in charge of following this job from start to finish. He sets up an appointment for November 18 to come and hook up the phone – surely the work will be finished by then. November 18! I told him that I would rather shut the phone off and wait until the work is done so that I don’t have to pay a bill for a phone that doesn’t exist. And he cautioned me and said that if I did shut it off, my job will go to the bottom of the list, because I’m no longer a paying customer. He said I could ask for a reimbursement after all the work is done.

And I’m basically sitting there on the phone trying to wrap my mind around what could possibly take two months. I think they might actually be running a long phone cord from some box on the side of road.

So no phone or internet at the house for us. Oh well – maybe I’ll get some reading done!

Pictures of the new kitchen (and the rest of the house) are coming…

09.21.08

How to move in Italy, Part 3

Posted in Ancona at 5:51 am

A couple of years ago, Ancona was changed forever. In the days leading up to the big event, enormous chairs, couches, and side tables were in every piazza. Ikea had moved to town.

I hadn’t ever been to an Ikea before. My teammates enjoyed driving or taking a train to Bologna to go to the Ikea there, but I never really understood what all the fuss was about. They praised the low prices, the attractive designs, and the overall Ikea experience. I really couldn’t imagine myself getting excited about a furniture store.

And then I found myself having to furnish a house. Without a lot of money. Suddenly Ikea became my best friend. We downloaded their software from the website and designed our own kitchen down to the handles and hinges we wanted.

Before Ikea, furnishing a house meant spending a fortune to get something that will last, or get something more affordable that falls apart. I still feel like a rat in a maze when I’m in there, but at least they have delicious meatballs at the restaurant (which would be the cheese at the end of the maze).

Pictures of the finished project to come…

09.19.08

How to move in Italy, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:19 am

Soon after contacting realtors, we were faced with the question: are we looking for a furnished or unfurnished apartment?

Most people think of Italians as having big families with kids running around everywhere. That was probably the case years ago, but now the average family size is just over 3 people: Mom, Dad, and one kid. Consequently, apartments are being built (or remodeled) to fit that size of family. Our family of six doesn’t really fit in an apartment built for 3. And so the chances of finding a furnished apartment were slim and none.

So unfurnished is the route we went. But unfurnished here means a very different thing than unfurnished in the US. We’re talking bare walls, wires sticking out where lights will be hung. No kitchen cabinets, sink, appliances, fixtures, nothing. Just a little hole in the wall for the drain and two pipes for hot and cold water. It seems like the bathroom is usually left (toilet, bidet, sink, tub/shower). In the house we ended up picking, the people before us actually took the hooks that you hang the ceiling lights with. In other words, completely unfurnished.

In one sense, it’s kind of fun to make the house exactly how you want it. On the other hand, it is expensive. But my wife being the way she is, she was able to find some incredible deals, mostly at a little place that has made furnishing a house much easier: Ikea. I’ll write more about that experience in part 3.

September 2008 Newsletter

Posted in Newsletters at 2:04 am

Newsletter time, once again. Heidi has a great take on the chaos of moving on the front page article. She’s a really good writer, I think. Enjoy!

September 2008 Newsletter

09.17.08

How to move in Italy, Part 1

Posted in culture, finances at 2:21 am

The reason I haven’t been posting lately is because we are smack dab in the middle of a move. Earlier in the summer our landlord dropped by to tell us she needs the house back. As stated in our contract, we have six months to get out. But, if we can find a place sooner than that would be OK, too. Yikes!

After the shock wore off, the search began. The first thing to do is start making phone calls. We called all the realtors we could find and called every number on every sign posted about a house for rent. It’s almost always easier to go with a realtor (note – this is for a rental house, not buying a house). They’ll take you around and show you possibilities. However, their fee is pretty steep: 1 month’s rent. So if you rent a house for €700 ($910) a month, when you sign the rental contract you pay the agency €700. Pretty steep if you ask me. And why the person renting is out the money is beyond me.

There’s a choice to be made when looking for houses here: furnished or unfurnished. Check back soon to find out what that means…