Last week I told you a little about our house hunting experience in Amsterdam. One thing I forgot to mention is just how much of a sellers market it is. Most realtors prefer to set up open houses rather than make individual appointments, because there are just so many people who want to see every house. The first open house we visited ended up being attended by over seventy prospective buyers. We made an offer on it, just for the heck of it (actually no, I fell in love with that house, which had a gorgeous view of a canal from (yes) a picturesque bay window). However, they had over a dozen offers, and the apartment went for ten or fifteen thousand euros over the listed price, putting it well over our budget.
Also complicating our search was the fact that on February 1st our bank, ING, changed its rules for mortgages to exclude non-EU citizens. Insert giant eyeroll. I don’t know if this is something to do with some bank manager’s extreme right-wing politics, or they just have too many customers, or what, but it was a weird move, especially in such a cosmopolitan city as Amsterdam. At any rate, we had to shop around for another mortgage and re-submit all our documents, which in retrospect wasn’t such a big deal, but at the time felt pretty stressful. Reason #6983 that I need to get around to applying for Italian citizenship so I can be EU like the rest of the family as soon as possible.
It seems like it took forever, but we were actually only looking at houses for a couple of weeks. And we only looked at perhaps a dozen apartments before we found THE ONE. Not only that, but we were able to put in an offer slightly below the asking price (which had already been reduced by €2o,000). It’s in a good location, it’s reasonably big (relatively speaking), and we are pretty much hopelessly in love with it. I guess I am used to beating the odds and striving for the impossible, because I keep thinking there must be a catch, and it can’t possibly be this easy.
Our new house is in Schinkelbuurt, a delightful little neighborhood to the southwest of the Centre, where the streets are quiet, but there are plenty of shops and cafés. We have the ground floor flat in a 1920’s brick building on the corner. It’s full of nice, bright windows, and even has a (very tiny) little yard out back where Tony can just fit his BBQ. The layout is really perfect for us (once we’ve made a few modifications), and I know exactly where my piano and bookshelves are going to go. It’s just a few minutes from Vondelpark, the Amsterdam equivalent of Central Park, and conveniently the place where the children have their horseback riding lessons. Their school is eight minutes away by bicycle (at least according to Google. I cycled it today, and it was more like ten, but the Google cyclist is usually faster than I am). It’s only about five minutes from Tony’s work, so he really lucked out. It’s ten minutes from the train station, which is a bit less convenient, but still very doable.
Today we went to sign a very official 20-page document in front of a notary. It’s kind of the buying-a-house equivalent of a prenup. And on April 5, we will officially get the keys, and our new house will be ours!
I’ll save the photos for when we actually move in, but in the meantime, here’s my very own front door: