We have one month to find an apartment in Amsterdam. So, on our second day we scheduled an appointment with Noor, a leasing agent that runs her own company in the city. She picked us up in the morning and we zipped off in her
cute little euro car breathtakingly beautiful little Alfa Romeo (scathingly edited by Sam). Perfect for popping the curb and parking in tight spaces. As we drove she explained, between gruesome gear changes, that most people don’t have cars in the city because of the congestion (which to the Dutch is waiting 5 minutes for some tourist to figure out he/she will never fit in that parking space) but also because there is quite a waiting list for a car permit if you live in the city. In fact, she had just gotten her permit after 6 years of living in the city. We were thankful for the transport even though we stalled numerous times while backing down small one way streets and maneuvering around trucks, cyclists, and cars.
Noor had scheduled 5 apartment showings in different parts of the city. Before we arrived we gave her a price range and sent a couple of apartment links that were of interest. Noor explained that all of the links we had sent last week had either already been rented or were under contract. And, while we were driving, Noor received calls from other agents inquiring about the apartments that we were viewing. We got the picture. Urgency. Good apartments rent fast. As Noor explained in what we are finding is a typically Dutch/logical way, “good apartments are like croissants – they are snapped up quickly!”
So, what do we want from our first apartment in Amsterdam?
Location – If we’re moving across the world we want to take advantage of living in a great city. Surprisingly, Amsterdam is very compact. We didn’t see an apartment that was in a ‘bad’ location. However, at times we weren’t quite sure where we were…How do you pick a location when you’ve never been here?
Charm – I’ve only lived in Kansas and Colorado. Which to be fair have their own…charm?, but I’ve never lived in a house/condo/apartment older than 1985. The 80’s in middle America weren’t exactly known for their architectural nuances.
Fully Furnished – Basically we only brought clothes. I’m not sure how we’d get an Ikea couch home on the metro.
Safety – Maybe lots of entry doors, locks, not on the first floor. I mean, umbrellas with swords in the handle only get you so far.
Remodeled – This might be wishful thinking (in a city that was basically all built in the 17th century) but there is something nice about long warm showers (new plumbing), fresh paint, and a kitchen that hasn’t been used by tenants for the last 200 years.
Washer/Dryer – I HATE going to the laundromat or using communal facilities. (Sam says we are just talking about washing clothes, not squatting over a long-drop). From our research it appears that most units have a washer/dryer combination.
Things we’re not hung up on:
Space – After listing and renting our one bedroom condo in Denver we realized that most people would prefer two bedrooms. We don’t really mind. The extra room is nice but sometimes the extra price for 2 bedrooms is just not in the budget. We’re willing to compromise on size for quality.
Outdoor Space – Once again, this would be a ‘nice to have’ but we’d rather utilize the parks and plazas that are hopefully right out our door. Also, in a coastal climate “aka rainy” city like Amsterdam, outdoor space becomes an unused luxury most of the year.
Pet Friendly – Ha! If you know me in real life you know I have no need for pet friendly. BTW, people still have dogs in this country (I joke) but I thought they might be banned to the countryside (double joke).
*As far as we know House Hunters International was not filming during our day of apartment searching. Thank the good lord. I said ‘cool’ or ‘cute’ about 500 times (even when referencing a room dedicated to the toilet). I also completely crushed a nice Dutch seller’s agent when my face was unable to mask my distaste of musty Victorian-era furniture and decor. Also, when I’m on video I tend to stare directly into the camera or make shifty eye movements that are quite unbecoming.