House Hunters International – Amsterdam Edition.

Many of you wanted us to sign up for House Hunters International so that our apartment hunt would be broadcast for all to see. Sorry guys, we didn’t make it onto the show. Hopefully this post is just as good!

We didn’t really have the option of getting a place on our own, as all the contracts are in Dutch and we don’t understand the Dutch housing laws. So we got a recommendation for a housing consultant named Eeg (“Egg”), who we met with last week to discuss wants, needs and budget. We went in knowing we were easy customers. Our requirements were as follows:

1. Location – anywhere within the ring road, near a park would be nice.
2. At least one bedroom.
3. Ground floor is okay. Stairs are ok too.
4. Balcony or yard would be nice, but not necessary.
5. Open floor plan would be nice.
6. Conor needs to be able to fit in the bathroom.
7. Need a full kitchen with oven so Katie can cook/bake.

Our consultant jotted down notes and confirmed that all of these would not be a problem…until we got to the oven. Apparently, it’s not normal within the Dutch culture to have an oven. If anything, most places have a tiny, combination oven/microwave that’ll do the job, but it’s not ideal, especially for an avid baker. You should have seen my face at the sound of this news – pure horror. After the initial shock (which lasted at least a full day), I started coming to terms with the fact that I might have to settle for a Thanksgiving chicken.

On Tuesday morning, Eeg picked us up in a tiny dutch rental car to go on a tour of 8 apartments in 3 1/2 hours. This was going to be a packed morning with rapid-fire decision making.

The first place was newly renovated and below our budget but a bit far from city center and in kind of a dead area culture-wise. It was beautiful but lacked the character that we found in some of the older places.

The second place was in the Oude Zuid (Old South). It’s known as the area where you would be most likely to bump shoulders with a local Amsterdam celebrity. Sounds great, but also means that prices are steep. This was the most expensive place we saw, and although nice, it definitely wasn’t worth the price tag.

Next, we saw three apartments in a row in De Pijp (The Pipe), a trendy, young area with a park, Amsterdam’s largest outdoor market (Albert Cuypmarkt) and lots of bars and cafes. The first place was great, but the second place was the real show-stopper. It was actually from a post that Conor and I had found and sent to Eeg the previous week. He checked it out for us and set up the meeting, commending us on our excellent hunting skills (thanks SF for training us so well). The place had a large living room with space for a seating area and large dining table, but more importantly, the kitchen was amazing. Not only was it huge AND equipped with a full oven, it had a very unique style, with red walls and black and white tile, giving it a retro, 1950’s diner feel. Oh yeah, and the small balcony behind the kitchen already had an herb garden set up from the previous owner. To top it off, there’s a gorgeous room on the top floor of the building (2 floors up) that we would be able to share with the landlord for no extra cost. He would use it for storage, and we could use it to for visitors (that’s right, I’m talking about you). We were ready to put in an offer right then and there, but Eeg urged us to see at least a couple more places before making a decision.

Low and behold, the next place was almost just as nice, and quickly became our #2 option. It was on the ground floor (bonus for no scary Dutch staircases) and had an enchanting patio in the back with a detached cabin-like guest house. The place was furnished, but we weren’t in love with the landlord’s taste. Also, the kitchen was a bit small and removed, and it didn’t have an oven. It wasn’t perfect, but if our first pick fell through we could definitely make this work.

Next we saw another apartment in Oude Zuid (way too many stairs and ugly carpet) and then a basement apartment on a canal in City Center (cute, but not enough light, tiny tiny kitchen, and furniture that didn’t match our taste).

The final place was in the West (closish to our AirBnB), and was in a building that was being completely renovated. We had to navigate through the construction site to see the corner apartment on the top floor, which was gorgeous, but very unfinished (the woman showing the place even got wet paint on her jacket). The best part by far was private access to the roof terrace. Amsterdam doesn’t have skyscrapers, so we could see the entire cityscape from the forth floor roof. We were charmed, and put this on our list as our third choice.

After an action-packed and exhausting morning, we put an offer on our favorite place – red kitchen in De Pijp. The guy showing the house had many appointments after us, and had seen a lot of interest so far, so our chances of getting it weren’t that great.

We waited anxiously for 48 hours before hearing that our offer went through! We are so excited to call this place our new home, and now officially have a place for all of you to stay when you visit.

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