When my wife and I moved to Amsterdam, our plan was to stay here 4-5 years, and rent apartments that whole time. Well, Amsterdam’s rental market, for lack of a better term, sucks. Prices are high, especially for Expats. It seems that, unless you know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who is moving out of an affordable apartment, you’re screwed.
Result? We’ve been looking to buy an apartment. It means committing to Amsterdam for at least 4-5 more years. It’s a big step, and it does make me nervous, but we think it’s the best thing to do. The process of buying here is somewhat similar to in the US, but it has its differences too. We contacted a mortgage broker first, just to see if buying was a feasible choice for us. He assured us it was, and recommended a makelaar (Dutch version of a Realtor). In the US, Realtors work of commission, with both the buyers and sellers Realtors getting a percentage of the purchase price. This is paid for by the seller. In the Netherlands, the selling agent gets a percentage, but the buying agent gets a flat-fee, paid by the buyer. In the case of the agent we used, the flat fee covered him accompanying us to 2nd showings only (although he did end up coming with me to most showings), and included him negotiating 3 apartments. If, for some reason, after we had failed to negotiate a deal three different times, his price would go up.
I saw lots of apartments over the course of a few months, and Roxy and I discussed making offers on a few of them, but ultimately we refrained. Finally, we were starting to get tired of looking, and we narrowed our choices down to two. One of them was Roxy’s favorite, and one was mine. Ultimately, my favorite won out, as it was in a more convenient location for her daily commute. We started the negotiations (which are done verbally / through e-mail here, not with written offers like in the US). It took a week and a half, and a few times it looked like the deal would fall through, but we finally reached an agreement. I’ll be going to the notaris (notary) this afternoon to sign the purchase agreement.
We won’t take over until March (boo), and we still have several milestones to pass, such as financing, and some repairs the seller is required to complete. Assuming all goes well, we’ll be moving out of our rented apartment in the Oostelijke Handelskade (Eastern Docklands) and into a place in the Weesperzijde neighborhood. We’ll be just a few steps from the Amstel river, and surrounded by lots of great restaurants, cafes, bars, and bakeries. Even better for Churchill, both Oosterpark and Safartipark will be about 3-4 blocks away. The Metro will be about a block and a half from our apartment, shortening Roxy’s daily commute from 45 minutes in each direction down to 15 minutes each way.
I’m really excited to move into the new place, and finally be “in” Amsterdam. I’ve come to appreciate our current neighborhood, and its proximity to the Indische Buurt (Indian District), but ultimately we still have to walk at least 15 minutes to get anywhere, including restaurants and grocery stores. I realize this doesn’t sound like much, but in Amsterdam it is. Our new apartment will be a 3 minute walk to a large Albert Heijn, and relatively close to the Albert Cuyp Markt.
As we complete the process of buying, I’ll make sure to update this blog, so if anyone else is thinking of buying, this can hopefully be a good resource.