Tuesday, September 15, 2015

House Hunting Dutch Style

When we met with our relocation advisor, we asked her what is the biggest surprise for Americans when they start looking at apartments.  She didn't hesitate for a second - 'the steps' she said.  When we met the real estate agent, we asked him the same question.  'The steps' he said.

We snickered.  We're in good shape, we couldn't see how steps could be a deterrent.

And then we started looking around.  Boy were we in for a surprise.

52 steps to the front door!
Because people were taxed by street footage, homes in Amsterdam are VERY narrow, very deep and very tall.  And that means there are a lot of steps to get between floors.

Richard standing at the halfway point

This is a typical layout for a 2nd floor apartment (remember in Europe the ground floor is floor zero).  Richard is standing at the halfway point, which in this particular unit, thankfully, there is a landing.   Lots of units just have one straight run of stairs.

So if you're looking at a 2nd floor apartment, you will find 30-40 steps to your front door.  We looked at a couple of 3rd floor apartments and once I got to 54 steps to the front door - we crossed it off the list.  In some apartments they were much more winding, they are steeper than in the US, and in the really old buildings, they slant down slightly, so you cling to the handrail for dear life!

But everyone assured us that after 2 weeks, we'll be dashing up and down them like a pro.  Hmmm.....we will see!

We did see a couple of ground floor apartments, but typically they are much darker (remember, those tall buildings block out a lot of sun!) and much more expensive.

The 2nd surprise?  You need to make sure there is a place to keep your bike.  Yep - your bike.  Because depending where you live, you can't get a parking permit for 7-9 years.  But everyone has a bicycle.  And carrying it up those stairs isn't a good idea!  Most of the apartments we looked at had bike racks near the front door.  And navigating sidewalks with all those bikes can be a challenge!

And finally - the toilet gets its own room.  The bathroom is truly that....a room with a bathtub and sink.  The toilet gets its own (tiny) room, where everyone can share.  Now in some respects, this is pretty practical.  Do you have teenagers?  They can spend lots of time showering and primping......but at least the rest of the family can use the toilet!

So for our first search, we looked at half a dozen apartments and saw some that were intriguing.
Rooftop deck - with Astroturf!!!

Big kitchen - but isolated from rest of house
Nice rooftop deck!

Love the idea of a garden apartment
We love the idea of a garden apartment - but the rooms are so dark on the ground floor, we decided that wasn't for us.

Garden apartments are dark
Dark kitchen
So it will take a little more looking to find the perfect place.  But in the meantime?  We need to get on the Stairmaster and build up those step climbing muscles!

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  1. I just returned from a 2 week vacation in Prague and Budapest and echo everything you say! Lots of steps that us Americans aren't used to. We think we do a lot of walking here but it's nothing compared to what the Europeans do. Looking forward to hearing about your new adventure!

    1. Sounds like a great trip!

      One of the first things I had to do was buy shoes for walking! My US shoes just weren't up to the task!!!

  2. This is fascinating! I can't wait to see where you end up!

  3. What a grand adventure! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Absolutely fascinating! Thank you. Can't wait to see why you need up doing.

    1. Well that third sentence made sense when I wrote it. "Can't wait to see WHAT you END up doing."

  5. We have bought/rented a lot of houses in our lives, but it's amazing how different it is when you're outside the US!

  6. Hi stumbled across your blog a few days ago and been hooked. My family and I moved to South Portland from the UK last year and we are just about to close on our first home here. It's need some work. Would love to here any recommendations for good people to work with if you are willing to share. Your new adventure sounds like a lot of fun. Amsterdam is an amazing city. Good luck with finding your new home

    1. Congrats on your new home!!! You must be going through some culture shock as well :-)

      Be sure and reach out to Waterhouse Builders as you get ready to do some work. They've partnered with me on all my projects. Love those guys!!

  7. Not sure I would like all those stairs! Looking forward to seeing what you find.

  8. Still like the garden apartment even though it's a little dark! Could not do all those steps every day!

  9. It's nice house. I can't wait to see where you end up!


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