Internationals nearly always start their search in Amsterdam. Often, the Netherlands is Amsterdam to them. And it’s a lovely city, but our country is so much more! Laurens Offerman, MVA Certified Expat Broker at Mooijekind Vleut in Haarlem, explains why living nearby the Dutch shore, dune areas and beautiful forests is so appealing… We’re talking about Haarlem, Haarlemmermeer or Heemstede-Aerdenhout!
Amsterdam is the reference point for expats. A real city with an appropriate big-city buzz, but more like a nice suburb compared to London or Paris. Our team in Amsterdam feels at home in the city, loves the city and recognises its appeal. Unfortunately, the housing market is tight. Sometimes the best advice is: have a look outside of the city borders, together with our colleagues!
When an international decides to look outside of Amsterdam, towards the coast or Hoofddorp, we often see them light up completely. The space, the greenery, the atmosphere, the compactness… And it’s so much less anonymous than Amsterdam.
The distances in our area are very manageable. Especially for people who are used to travelling 2 hours within one city. Amsterdam – Haarlem takes about half an hour. Peanuts! Cycling to ‘t Wed and strolling through the dunes, or even biking on to Bloemdaal aan Zee, taking a walk in Elswout; Haarlem and Heemstede are perfectly located for these things. Haarlemmermeer, too, has it all: spacious houses with lovely gardens, malls, the Haarlemmermeer Forest, the Toolenburger Lake, an international school… A great place to live.
The good thing is: as real estate agents, we’ve known this for ages, but the amazement is always fun to see – and it’s contagious. This way, we also keep realising it ourselves: wow, life really is good here. This is what makes working with internationals extra rewarding.
How do you, as an international, prepare for this step?
We think there are two crucial points. First of all: making sure you are informed really is key. About regulations, the market, neighbourhoods, everything. Take your time to do this when you’re meeting or skyping/facetiming with your estate agent.
The difficult thing for internationals is often the fact that they have to decide so soon. Your new employer is waiting for you, the international school is starting for the kids, etc. You don’t have the luxury of ‘seeing how it goes’ from the comfort of your current home. You simply have to move, sometimes with your whole family, at the moment you start your new job.
This is why we explain the Dutch system to you first, and walk you through the purchasing process: how does bidding work, what does the 3-day cooling-off period entail, where to go for financing, etc. But we also take a good look at neighbourhoods: in many places you can move 50 metres and feel like you’re in a completely different area, for example. That’s something you can’t see at 6000 kilometres’ distance on Google Maps…
Which brings us to the second point: make sure you have a local estate agent who really knows the area. Our colleagues in Haarlem will always match you with our colleagues in Heemstede, even though those places are very close together. The same goes for Hoofddorp. An estate agent who grew up in the city you are viewing can tell you so much more!
When everything is clear, we will start visiting properties. At that point, the question that remains, is: what do you think? Can you picture yourself barbecuing in this garden? Would you enjoy doing groceries in this neighbourhood? Would you feel good arriving home here in the evening? These are very important questions; and they are also the most fun. Because that’s when a new home and a new life are really starting to take shape in front of your eyes. Welcome home!