Cleaning House

By - June 24, 2008 (Updated: November 27, 2014)

As of yesterday at noon, I had four less keys on my key ring. The Everberg house is finally not our problem anymore and I feel nothing but relief.

We spent our fourth and final weekend cleaning. We were actually done earlier on Sunday than I expected and in all honesty it looked great. It was not just ‘clean-enough,’ which is usually my philosophy on cleaning. This was ‘even-my-mother-would-be-impressed’ clean.

So Monday morning rolled around and we went back out to the house for the exit inspection. The inspector, of course, was late, so we had to stand around making small talk with the
landlords (hard to do at the best of times when you barely speak each other’s language). We haven’t told them where we are living. I’m not really even sure why, because I don’t think they are going to hunt us down or anything like that. I guess it’s just because they are so damn nosy. Anyway, our story was that we are going back to Canada for the summer and then moving to Brussels, maybe, in the fall. Close enough I think.

When the inspector arrived we went inside and he started at the top and worked down. His first question was “Is there anything you know of that is broken?” Well, there’s the wallpaper that the cats scratched, the leaky pipe downstairs that is staining the ceiling, the downstairs wall that is crumbling, the chipped floor-tiles in the living room… “No, nothing,” we chorused.

The bathroom was first and took a long time. I expected problems but anything he pointed out, they said don’t worry about it. Mevrouw did look at everything… and I mean EVERYTHING and asked me repeatedly if every appliance worked. “Yes, the 3-year-old washing machine still works… Yes, the 3-year-old dryer still works… Yes, the dishwasher is fine… Yes, the stove works…. Yes, your lawn-mower which is older than Andrew and I combined STILL works…”

Each room we entered, Andrew and I did a silent and unified dance to stand in front of whatever wall was damaged the most. The few things that Mevrouw did point out, the inspector just shrugged and moved on. Andrew noticed that she wasn’t too happy about the garden but the inspector didn’t seem to care about the outside of the house at all so it didn’t get noted. He also commented that the place was very clean – so I guess our hard work and wasted weekends paid off.

In the end, the only dispute was the oil tank. We knew we had left it almost empty and expected that we would have to pay a bit. When it was measured there was 150L left. The inspector
claimed that there was 900L when we moved in. Andrew was sure it was only at 300L but we had no proof so we had to eat the cost. The landlords signed off on our deposit, minus about 700€ for the oil and we were out of there. Since we had made some interest on the blocked account we are really only out about 500€ which is annoying when we don’t think it is accurate but frankly could have been much, much worse.

As I said in the beginning, all I feel is relief. I liked our house in Everberg but it was really time to move on. We didn’t have time to deal with the yard, and without the dog it wasn’t getting used at all. The house was much bigger than we needed which resulted in more cleaning. The biggest problem though was the isolation. Now I can get around on my own, I can function in French instead of fumbling with Dutch and I can actually get out and do things without waiting around for Andrew. We can also go out together now without worrying about how much wine Andrew can drink or where we will park the car. Now that we have our weekends back, I can’t wait to enjoy all the city has to offer.

In three years my attitude towards this place my end up being the same as it was with Everberg. I know I don’t want to live in Belgium forever anyway. I can already see some of the problems living in the city will cause. I also question if I’m just one of those people who gets restless and needs to change location every few years. I’m not sure. I do know that my mental health wouldn’t have survived another year in Everberg, let alone three more years. All I can do now is wait and see what the city has in store for me.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 1 day ago

1 comment

  1. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops June 24, 2008 at 16:51

    Congrats Loft-dwelling Terrace-loving Urbanites … so glad the inspection went well, thanks to some real elbow grease I’m sure (some demo’s on your next visit would be something to think about!, especially if you were serious about that “even my mother would be impressed” line!) … now you can do life in the city – full immersion – it certainly sounds like you are off on the right foot … enjoy! … and, if moving every three years is in your chemistry at this point, do what you are doing now and have fun! … lots of love … PP

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