After days of scouring various websites in search of more pocket-friendly alternative, I realised I had 3 options:
- start paying just to see the listings on agency websites, with no guarantee of finding anything suitable.
- enter some bizarre kind of lottery in which you hand over your money and wait to see if you have, effectively, "won" a place.
- give up and pay the uni and consequently, the agency, a frankly extortionate fee.
So, I went with the latter, favouring ease and certainty over the possibility of living in a tree. I can't say much, or indeed anything at all, for the effectiveness of the first two options but if they seem more appealing to you, be my guest. But when they warn you on the university website that "it isn't easy," they aren't just having you on in some underhand ploy to steal your hard-earned pennies - it really... isn't... easy.
(On a side note, this is another aspect of the university lifestyle I feel could benefit from some sort of forum on which people can provide listings, advice, experiences etc.)
Begrudgingly, I paid the fee.
When I was told the last possible date by which I might get an answer was the 15th of August, two days before I'm due to collect the keys, I did start to worry slightly.
But today, I can inform you, o venerable reader, that I am wholly satisfied by the results. I was sent a clear outline of where I have to be and when, how I confirm my interest and details of the room itself. Although pictures weren't included, I did a little bit of excavating and found that it is centrally located and near the river in a part of Amsterdam called Westerpark.
The walking route from my prospective place to the university.
Now I have the unfortunate disposition of being slightly superstitious, so I don't want to spout off about how amazing it looks, but I will say that I'm pretty happy.
If we go into street view...
...you get an idea of exactly the kind of accommodation I'm dealing with here. While I will assume there are those among you who may turn their noses up at this, the prospect of living in a student village again excites me to no end. It will be more about the atmosphere and community than the luxury aspect and having lived most of my life by considerable but no great means, I anticipate enjoying this.
Having seen a few pictures of the rooms, the majority of which I shall spare you, one example in particular really showed me how a bit of effort and elbow grease can make any living space, even these (apparently 25m2) rooms, an interesting and comfortable place to be.
While I think the method of finding a place to live in the first place leaves a lot to be desired, I can't really argue with the end result. It looks as if either way you go about it, you'll end up spending money trying to find somewhere. While there are some websites with free listings, I found them (usually) to be searching for rents somewhere in the region of 800 euros pcm+.
I look forward to moving in and showing everyone my room.