Since I moved to Belgium in 2001, first as a student in a residence, then working here, I always rented.
I shied away from buying, for several reasons: the thought of chaining me to a bank for decades, the thought of signing a contract, in legalistic, financial lawyer’s French I would not understand (I hardly understand German lawyer’s lingo…), having to take a decision of such profound implications… it always made me extend my rental contract.
On the other side, more than ten years of rent… I am sure I would easily have paid off a third or half of it, by now.
Then again – I am not sure if I would have dropped everything, saved the money and gone on this trip f I had a huge monthly mortgage to pay.
This week, though, I went to visit my first apartment in Brussels.
I received an email from this agency that tirelessly has mailed me their offers since around 2008. They had an open house in the city center, and, what the heck, I just went to have a look.
I arrived at my most casual and colorful. Striped pants, red shoes, a colorful t-shirt, orange jacket. I am sure I didn’t look like their usual client.
The other guy looking at the building, housing several apartments, came in suit-and-tie / trustworthy client-attire.
I told the lady I was just at the very start of this process, and just wanted to get the ball rolling.
The place was’t bad. I saw a 4th-floor 2-bedroom apartment in a quiet side street of the centre, 5 minutes form the Grand’ Place, fully equipped, nice floors, light and with two tiny balconies.
They have some other projects in the center that she told me about, and has already mailed me plans and price lists.
The price. Well, it’s somewhat more than I want to spend. I really don’t want to work this off for the next 40 years (I only have about 30 till retirement, anyway).
So I’m thinking about a smaller place, that isn’t too enormous, in the center of Brussels where I spend most my times.
I’d love to have a guest room though, so that any friend could come over and crash at my place for a night, or a month. And Ideally, a tiny terrace or a balcony.
If I do this I want to strike a balance, paying maybe a bit more than my usual rent, but paying it off fast, and still be able to put money on the side for another future sabbatical and world trip… or whatever crazy project I might come up with.
So I feel a bit schizophrenic.
On the one hand the realistic, back-to-work, buy-an-apartment, get-settled Me, and on the other hand the guy who does not want to unpack, who is going through his stuff to shed even more weight, wanting to be able to drop everything and leave for something else at maybe a month’s notice.
I feel so torn between both, the ‘traveller’ side of me that does not want to go back to a ‘settled’ life – of which buying an apartment would be the biggest symbol – and the realistic, no-nonsense side of me.
I think I’ll need to get a huge sheet of paper. To pin on my wall. And start making a list. Of life options. The crazy ones. The realistic ones. The crazy ones. The responsible ones. The crazy ones.
And see if they converge somehow, somewhere.