Finding an Apartment – Take 2

As I’m writing this, I am celebrating my two-year anniversary of arriving in Europe – I spent the first week in Germany before heading north to NL. Before moving here I always read about how difficult it was to find an apartment here in the Netherlands. Knowing this, I started a few months before my departure with a serious plan to find an apartment in my new home. I made a list of all the online newspapers, websites where I could place an ad, plus I contacted real estate agencies, joined social media groups … I did it all!

But surprise, surprise! The first response I received turned out to be the apartment that I got! So for me, it wasn’t that difficult. Thank goodness!

Fast forward two years and I started looking for another apartment. The fortunate part is that I am now in the Netherlands, so I had that going for me. Still, when I decided to look for a new place, I remembered the echoes of how difficult it was going to be. Though it was actually pretty easy to find an apartment the first time around, I did not think my initial apartment-finding luck was going to carry over this time around.

So this time around, I set out with the same plan: place ads, answer ads, contact real estate agencies … but honestly, that was all I had to do. Again, the first place I contacted was the place I wound up getting! I met with the landlord today and set all the particulars in order. I have the notice to my current landlord ready and right after I finish this column, I’ll be sending it to them (it’s a mother and son landlord-team).

While I’m sure a lot of luck and aligned stars have to do with my finding apartments, I do believe that it’s the synergy of doing a lot of things at the same time that is the key. I also had a thought process of ‘the right things are going to happen at the right time’ and a vision of there being an apartment out there that’s perfect for me. I truly believe it’s the combination of all of this that helped me twice to find an apartment here in the Netherlands, where everyone laments about how challenging it is.

My advice to those who might be looking for an apartment or who might be hesitant because you too heard the stories of how difficult it is – first, don’t be deterred by the rumours and stories you hear. Be excited about it. Be happy about the vision of you in your new apartment. The way you think and ‘see’ how this awesome new home will be is like the grease in the gears of the whole process.

But thinking and dreaming about it will only get you so far. You have to actually do something to make it all come together. There are so many resources and outlets to get the word out. Almost every major city has an expat center that can help you either find available apartments or real estate agencies who specialize in expat rentals – so definitely contact them to help out. Then there are the regular rental agencies. They may not specialize in expat rentals, but they are a tremendous resource that should not be overlooked.

Outside of the agencies, local papers are a fantastic resource. I found weekly papers create a better response and are cheaper than the dailies. I not only looked in the papers but also placed ads myself saying that I am an American freelancer with two dogs looking for 1-2 rooms and named my budget. I was surprised that I got responses!

To find a new apartment here – or anywhere – just get the word out there. Tell all your friends and do the things I suggest. But above all, don’t pay much attention to the negative stories. They are only true if you make them out to be. Happy home hunting!

Written by Marla Thomson