December 20, 2007

Finding an apartment in Amsterdam

I know that once I'm actually in Amsterdam doing the apartment search, I might look back at what I'm about to say and think that I'm insane. I'm kind of excited about looking for apartments in Amsterdam.

Anyone who does about five minutes of research on living in Amsterdam finds out very quickly that it's "impossible" to find an apartment. There's a huge housing shortage, the Netherlands is a small and overcrowded country, people are on waiting lists for years and years to get a place, etc.

But I'm telling you, spend two years in Paris and then over a year in New York City (in two different apartments), and the thing that will excite you is the fact that renting in Amsterdam isn't that expensive. It's not cheap, don't get me wrong. However, I've been combing through ads on a million different websites and one thing remains clear: for what I pay to live in crappy neighborhood in Brooklyn ($650 USD/453 Euros, plus utilities), I could live in a bigger, nicer apartment in Amsterdam. I'm not planning to find my own apartment; instead I'll try a flatshare situation so that I have roommates. Even that excites me - I have great roommate history and I would like to live with some other international types.

The state of the US dollar is an unfortunate issue. Two years ago $650 was more like 530€. Ouch.

Here in Brooklyn, people think that I'm lucky that I found a place so cheap. Again, I want to emphasize that my neighborhood isn't very nice and my apartment is very small and very run down - I don't even have windows in my bedroom. I know that finding a room for 450€ in Amsterdam won't be simple, but it's possible. It wouldn't be remotely possible in Paris at all. Since Amsterdam is such a small city compared to what I'm used to, I don't feel the need to be right in the center. It's such a short bike ride to get anywhere, and other than the two years I spent living in Philadelphia, I've never felt the need to live right in the middle of everything.

Just today I saw an ad for a room - 16 sq meters, 550€ a month, near station Vlugtlaan, and it included those lovely key words - registration possible. If I want to live legally in Amsterdam, I need a residence permit. And to get that permit, I need a legal residence. Technically I'm supposed to have the address pretty much the day I step in the country and apply for the permit with 8 days, but I don't think that is realistically going to happen. Instead I'll stay with a friend in Amsterdam and give myself three months (for three months I can just be there with a passport) to find a place. When the time comes to apply for the permit, I'll say "of course, I just moved to Amsterdam two days ago. I arrived from Paris and came to Amsterdam in a car." Since I'll be flying into Paris, I'll have the plane tickets as proof (if necessary).

This is going to be an interesting experiment. Will finding an affordable room in Amsterdam REALLY be more difficult than finding an affordable room in NYC or Paris? I'll find out this spring!

Slightly off-topic, but important: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic are becoming part of the Schengen area, which means that there is now a 24-nation border-free zone in the European Union. This is good news for anyone traveling in Europe!


Kate said...

Malta sounds so cool. There is a small chance that we might get to visit it this summer with Matt's pal ben, I hope it happens.

I think roomates would be great for you! Instant friends!

Manning said...

I think it's great that you want to start out with roommates. That proved to be a really really good thing for me that I didn't even anticipate: you're forced to learn the language every single day AND you have someone nearby to help you out with occasional visa/paperwork/etc questions. When I first arrived in Paris, I thought I might want to get a place on my own right away, but now I'm thinking I'll definitely give it a good six months or so, just because I'm so pleased with how my French is progressing because I live with a French guy. So anyway, I mention all this in case you have multiple options and some involve Dutch roommates and other involve non-Dutch roommates. Just something that might be super useful, and you might want to keep it in mind.

P.S. I can't get the LJ thing to work here; I tried about ten times.

Another American Expat said...

Kate - I'd like to go to Malta too! Maybe I'll join you guys.

Manning - yeah, I can't imagine doing it any other way... I've never even considered trying to live on my own. I'm actually kind of hoping I can find a French-speaking roommate, though Dutch would be more practical...

I don't know why the LJ thing isn't working, that's really annoying.

Jolien said...

Hi Tami, good luck on your move to Amsterdam. Indeed, one of the best cities in the world (have been living here for over 8 years now). You probably know this site already, but just in case: (it's called students for students, they have all sorts of housing available). In case you need to know anything about your move (good/bad neighbourhood, dodgy offers), drop me an email: Merry X-mas! Jolien (native Dutch girl)

Another American Expat said...

Hi Jolien! Thanks so much for commenting - I always appreciate advice and I hope you don't mind if I drop you an email sometime. :)

Anonymous said...

If you're staying with a friend legally, you may well be able to register there. They've made the rules much easier in the last time. The work permit is going to be a more difficult issue. This said, the economy is very good right now, so this is probably the easiest time in a long time to get a permit. Google "knowledge migrant".

Another American Expat said...

Hey frumiousb! Thanks for the tips.