The Canal Ring, Amsterdam
October 15th, 2009
As always, apartment hunting is a challenge and one that can ride the patience of even the most serene (read: dull) people but, I have actually found that when it is one’s only source of social interaction, it can be quite fun and even rewarding.
With my new bike I began the hunt with renewed vigor and excitement. Our first attempt at apartment hunting (one day two weeks ago, between trips) had not only been in a car (downright sacrilege), but also a bit rushed. Now, upon two wheels of my own command, I was granted full authority plus a bit of pseudo local status and felt far more prepared to seek and find the canalside abode of my dreams. Of course, I had some set requirements but I felt hopeful that canal views, exposed beams and charming historical details were mine to be had!
- A dreamy canal house with the picturesque gable and corner canal views
So far, the week-long apartment hunt has forced the gamut of emotions. I’ve gone from elation to frustration back to elation again. I’ve met all sorts of new people (okay, real estate agents), seen a wide variety of options and finally been on time for appointments having not gotten lost (fine, not until yesterday and today). I have been pushed and prodded but also coddled with compliments. I think I may have a hard time making a decision soon (I’ve set the deadline for this Friday) given that as soon as I do my whole social environment will come to a crashing halt.
If there’s any advice though that I can offer (making this blog post hopefully worth reading) about renting an apartment abroad it is to ASK QUESTIONS. Full admission: I am the worst at this. I love to presume to know everything. Alas, that is not the smartest move with foreign real estate agents. Mostly because they love to talk and show what they know, but also because they know you don’t know as much as them and your bravado will get you nowhere. Another major thing to question is the unspoken rules or method of behavior concerning the search. Real Estate Agent politics differ greatly from country to country- in NYC they’re proud of being cutthroat while in Amsterdam they get very defensive about ever seeming disloyal. So, its best to be clear about your intentions, your own research (the internet is your friend and free tool – use it) and then ask if they are appropriate as to appear unoffensive. I have been clear about my expectations based on my NYC and DC experiences in the rental market but many of the agents here have told me it works differently in Amsterdam. My presumption that they work for me is entirely wrong, at least that’s what I’m told. As a result, I have learned to be far more cautious, less aggressive and ultimately, slower regarding the whole process. (There’s probably a painful life lesson in here too!) I have also seen that every time I have asked an agent an honest answer, demonstrated my ignorance to the “dutch-way” of renting, it has benefited my relationship with the agent.
So, it looks like tomorrow and Thursday will prove to be the final, gangbuster days of searching and deciding. I shall keep you all posted with the final choice and any further deductions on proper behavior with foreign real estate agents.