Finding a place to live in Amsterdam can be a challenge, and renting can be quite pricey. Through an Internet search I found a fellow Geordie (that is, a person from my home town of Newcastle, UK) living in Amsterdam with a room to rent, and he was kind enough to keep the room free until I arrived.
Before moving in with my new Geordie flatmate I had to find accommodation for my first 10 days – and it needed to be on a budget! The cheapest place I found was an Organic B&B. My partner came to share the first days in Amsterdam with me, and when we arrived the B&B owner explained the rules of the B&B to us: no meat allowed, showers limited to 7 minutes maximum, and men must always sit on the toilet! We had lovely food prepared for us by the B&B owner, and afterwards we read the bible in two different versions and compared them. Despite having been brought up Catholic I did not know there were two different versions of the bible in English (my Nanna would have been ashamed of me!). There were many other interesting occurrences during our week at the B&B, and I grew to really respect the B&B owner. He was truly practicing his WHY – living a lifestyle that was sustainable for him.
The B&B owner was also very helpful in helping me to get my first Dutch bike. He went onto marktplaats (the Dutch eBay), and within an hour I was testing out a Dutch bike! The B&B owner checked the bike out for me to make sure I was getting a good deal. The bike was a called an ‘Omafiet’, meaning ‘granny bike’, and I knew that getting used to its Dutch-style backward brakes would be a challenge.
The B&B owner even helped me move to my new place. In just a 10 day stay, I found that I learnt a lot from the B&B owner and this was really his goal: he was the cheapest accommodation around because he was so passionate about sharing his beliefs about living a sustainable lifestyle with as many people as he could.
I was also very lucky with the next place I stayed. My flatmate Rob was so helpful, and even helped me make the trip over to the other side of Amsterdam to the landlord’s B&B to pick up my bike. I was going to be living with Rob on an island call Ijburg that had been reclaimed from the sea – the Dutch are so resourceful and creative when designing their landscape! I think a little bit of serendipity was at play when I first settled into Amsterdam – I’d found a fellow Geordie to live with, and I’d met someone who I respected a great deal for truly living his WHY.