Antonella Serrecchia, a first year master’s student in journalism from Italy, is one of the many international students still looking for somewhere to stay. The UK is following her in her ongoing quest to find a home in Groningen.
Disappointed and frustrated that she hadn’t been able to arrange a viewing for a room, Antonella decided to start over again at Bakker Huuradvies. This time, she was in luck: she arranged a viewing one day after class at 5 pm.
‘I actually finished my class at 5, so I had to cycle really fast in order to get there. Luckily, the apartment was in the city centre, so it was quite close,’ she explains. Just a few minutes later, Antonella was knocking the apartment’s door, but nobody responded. ‘The guy from the agency that I had arranged the appointment with wasn’t even there. I knocked again.’
Confused, she was about to give up until she heard some noises from inside the apartment. ‘I could hear hammers and people talking. I decided to knock again and luckily, someone opened the door this time,’ she adds. She looked inside and to her surprise, she noticed that the house was still under construction. ‘It was a mess. It didn’t even have a floor. Nobody ever told me that they were still building it and the room was supposed to be available from the 1st of October,’ Antonella says, clearly upset.
For the first time since she arrived in Groningen, she lost her temper and didn’t know what to do. ‘I immediately called the guy from the agency to check why he didn’t show up and he didn’t even try to apologize, but he just told me: ‘yes, I sent you an email to cancel the appointment.’ I double-checked later on and he did send an e-mail just 33 minutes before the appointment. Seriously? I got so frustrated. It is so unprofessional to cancel an appointment half an hour before, especially via e-mail,’ Antonella says.
‘To make it even worse, he admitted that he already knew the house was under construction. I really couldn’t wrap my mind around it at that moment. But this minor piece of information was not mentioned in the ad, of course. Seemed like a bad joke to me.’
‘This is the one’
Luckily, one of her new classmates had informed her earlier that there was a viewing for another room at 6 p.m. She grabbed her bike and headed to the address.
‘The room was so beautiful and big, it was 30 meters squared and right in the city centre. The price of the room was 450 euros, which is still doable for me. The only thing that I didn’t like is that I would have to share the only bathroom and toilet with another six roommates. It was a three-floor student house and my room would be on the top floor, so I would have to go all the way down to the first floor in order to shower,’ she explains.
But while trying to decide on that room, Antonella found yet another option on one of the Facebook groups she was still using for her quest. Her first thought when she went to view the room was: ‘this is the one, it is perfect,’ she says. The room was around 15 meters squared with a balcony. ‘I was excited. I would only have two other flatmates who seemed to be very tidy and nice, the house was also in a good neighbourhood and the price of the room was 350 euros.’
Around 15 people attended the viewing on that day and unfortunately, someone else was chosen. However, Antonella was informed that there was another room available in the same house. ‘The room had been available for the last year. It is really small – seven meters squared – and they could offer it to me for 180 euros, all-inclusive. The price is amazing but still I am a bit concerned. The room is so small,’ she says.
Now, Antonella is faced with the conundrum of deciding which room she really wants, and she needs to be fast. She feels puzzled. ‘I do feel like neither of them is the perfect one for me, but considering the circumstances, I am afraid that I am being too picky. However, it will be my home, and I don’t want to choose something that I don’t like,’ she admits.
While she is trying to make up her mind, she is still hoping that the landlord of the apartment where she is currently living will agree to rent the apartment to them for the rest of year. ‘We would really like to rent this house. We know that they are planning to sell the house at some point, but until then, we would love to stay here even if they start selling some of the furniture. Let’s hope for the best!’
Curious about how Antonella’s search has gone so far? Read part one and part two of her story. Check back next week for part four.