Getting settled

Mountain View – Monday, 27 February 2012

By Melanie

Getting settled… Easier said than done. It took us some time, a lot of patience and even more credit checks.

When you move to a new home in a foreign country there are many things you have to arrange. A new phone card, a bank account, a new house, furniture, a car, and so on.

Let’s start with the first thing. A phone card. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it. Well, it’s not in the US. To get a phone card (for an iPhone) you first have to choose the phone company. When chosen, you need to choose between a big variety of plans. Then, you can still choose different extras for the plan. Not too bad till this point huh. But then comes the most important thing… Paying. Salesman: “Can I have your American Credit card so I can do a credit check?” (They basically check what you do with your money). Andrew:”I don’t have an American Credit card yet, but you can check my Belgian Visa card”. Salesman:”No, that won’t work, but no problem, you’ll just each have to do a $1000 deposit”. Andrew:”…”. Luckily, after hundreds of phone calls, Pieter managed to get us the cards via the company. But lets remember the word Credit check. It will be mentioned later.

The Bank Account. Andrew had set up a bank account during his last visit to California so we had a good base to start with. When still in Belgium he transferred money to this account but apparently money takes longer to travel than a contest pigeon. After being faced with the Credit check issue, we asked the very helpful bank assistant how we could get an American credit card. She told us that we first have to get a Social Security Number (we are in the process of getting it), then we get a secured credit card (with a $500 limit) and only when we have used this card enough, our Credit score increases. And only then can we get a real credit card. Well, we can actually get as many cards as we want, but she advised us on getting a maximum of 4 cards. 4! To get a positive Credit score you have to use these cards a lot. San Francisco shopping streets, here I come!

The new house. Finding an apartment actually went easier than expected. On his last visit Andrew checked out some residencies and was very enthusiastic about one, namely Avalon Creekside Apartments. And I have to say, my hubby has great taste. After looking at other apartments on the internet and exploring the neighborhoods, Avalon looked like the perfect place. Good location, nice and clean amenities, great atmosphere and a very spacious apartment. But, yes, there was a but… the word we’ve come to hate over the last days… CREDIT CHECK.
To be allowed to rent the apartment we had to pass the credit check. Problema! Thank God for a very sweet and helpful American, who was prepared to be our guarantor. Yuy, we have a house!

Avalon Apartment

A house needs furniture. IKEA here we come! After spending hours at IKEA we had our basic furniture picked out. A bed, a table and four chairs (exactly the same chairs we had in our Ghent apartment), some basic necessities and a ginormous sofa bed! No excuses for our Belgian friends not to come over! Because our rental car is tiny we had IKEA deliver our furniture friday morning.


So friday became furniture building day. In the absence of a hammer, Andrew used one of the basic necessities (aka a frying pan) to build the bed.


The car… still in progress…

Here are some pictures of our cute little town, Mountain View.

Mountain View
Castro Street

Enough about the practical side, let’s talk entertainment.

I am planning on becoming a healthy California gall. With the huge portions of food, this might become a bit tricky. Katie, Pieter’s lovely girlfriend, had a great plan, Yoga! Thursday evening Katie and I met up at the Avalon health center to take a class of Yoga. Since my knowledge of Yoga is limited to the sun salutation, I was a bit worried about the level (not being beginner). A very freaky looking dude (Katie: “he looks like the evil monk from The Da Vinci Code”, and she was so right) started the class with some relaxing ohms. So far so good. Unfortunately that was just the warming up. Seriously, at one moment (whilst we were in spreading leg stand with our head and arms between the legs) he suggested that those who wanted could continue in head stand. Whilst my head was still at least 50 centimeters of the ground, one of our classmates went straight to head stand. Even the 60-year olds were more flexible than I (and I am sorry Katie) and Katie were. We have decided we are going to try Yoga again, but we will start with the beginners classes. Luckily after the class we went for food in a very nice restaurant in Palo Alto called the Fish market… I Like! And I got to sit in a Porsche!

Friday night we were invited to a Twenties themed party in SF. First of all, SF skyline by night is amazing! Unfortunately I have a very crappy camera that doesn’t work in the dark (hint Andrew) so a picture of that great scenery will be for another blogpost. The party was very sophisticated, there were interesting people attending the party and the cherry blossom garden was super beautiful. There were even cigars on sale.


Tip: if you want to get over a Jet lag: Go to bed late enough and wake up late enough.

Saturday morning/midday we woke up and felt like some sightseeing. So we went and did the Stanford Dish walk. The 3.5 mile walk is a great way to get an overview of the Bay Area. It provides views on Stanford and on San Francisco and the central point of the walk is a huge dish.

The Dish

And, if you are a squirrel lover, this is the place to be. They are omni-present. and they are so fluffy! Speaking of squirrels, check out the pimped out car we saw at a gas station.

Squirrel Car

In the afternoon we went to Target and bought household appliances (which took us a couple of hours). Afterwards, our Avalon community had a wine and cheese evening in store. We got to meet some of our neighbors (one of them: an engineer who works at Tesla Motors and offered Andrew a tour… He Likes!) and ate yummy cheese and drank not so yummy bubbly wine. It is so nice to know that your neighbors are very nice, friendly people. Most of them even know Belgium and some have actually been there.

On Sunday we had the best day. We went to the seaside! On a 40 minute drive from Mountain View lies the cute town of Half Moon Bay. After strolling in the picturesque town we had Lunch at Sam’s Chowder House. Oysters, Seafood chowder, Lobster, …, need I say more.

Sam's Chowder House
Mmmm With A View