Looking for a decent flat share in Amsterdam? Who isn’t?! We tell you why it’s like hell (but will also help)
Maybe you think you’re a strong person. Maybe you think you’ve developed the hardness of character required for dealing with life’s problems. Maybe you think you’re an emotionally resilient, thick-skinned rock of sheer willpower. Maybe you think you’re ready for flat-hunting in Amsterdam.
Looking for a room in a shared flat in Amsterdam is like passing naked through the fires of Hell. Don’t do it to yourself. Just don’t. OK?
Needed for a flat share In Amsterdam: Perseverance
“Huh, what does this Ross guy think he’s talking about, eh?” (I can sense some of you thinking.) “It can’t be that hard really. I’ve found flats in cities before, and my charm and personality will surely see me right in Amsterdam too.”
Some people just can’t be warned. And so, if you haven’t been dissuaded, and you still have some masochistic urge to hurl yourself into the bear pit of Amsterdam flat-hunting, then here are a few tips based on my own tragic, emotionally-scarring, Pyrrhic success story.
Flat Share In Amsterdam: Flashback to September 2015
In the summer of 2015 my course at the UvA came to an end, and my student accommodation was up. I had a few job applications in the pipeline, and had done a few interviews. But I had more or less decided to move back to the UK. When all of a sudden I get a call from a company in Amsterdam asking me to start ‘on Monday’. Where was I going to live??
The first step is to succesfully finding a proper flat share in Amsterdam is to join any and all Facebook groups about finding flats and flatmates in Amsterdam.
Top Tip: don’t just join the ones with English names! Go for the Dutch ones like Kamer Gezocht, etc. (Don’t sign up to Kamernet, because you have to pay a membership fee and it’s just full of scams.)
In these Facebook groups you will suddenly see just how many people are also looking for a room in Amsterdam, and all of them are better looking, more interesting, and equally as desperate as/than you. This is the ‘shock’ phase, and you have to work through it.
Writing to People: Your Chance to Alienate Potential Flatmates!!
To have at least a small chance of getting invited to a ‘kijkavond’ (room viewing) you will have to write to whoever has posted the room ad. This is your chance! In just a few lines, you can immediately make yourself sound like someone that nobody in the world would want to live with. This is your opportunity to come across as desperate, needy, weird, aggressive and unfunny.
You’ve been looking for weeks without being invited to a single viewing? Why not mention this to your potential roommates in your FB message! The room is only available for girls, and you are a guy? No problem! Make a joke about how you’re considering gender reassignment surgery! The room is only for Dutch speakers, and you only have A2 German? Kein Problem! Make a joke about how Dutch is basically German anyway, and that it’s discriminatory to allocate rooms based on linguistic skills! Surely that will get you to the front of the queue?
No. Do not. Do not do any of these things.
What You Should Do
It is best to come across as the type of person that other humans might consider living with. This is a combination of sounding chilled and relaxed in your message, and mentioning specific things that were written in the room ad. You should also hone your Facebook profile and remove any of those (albeit hilarious) public pictures in which you look like an utter oddball.
It took me a while to streamline my all-purpose flat-hunt Facebook message (I responded to 97 room ads in two months, and got invited to about 7 or 8 viewings) but in the end I refined it down to solid gold. Below is an annotated version of the message I sent to the flatmates that I ended up living with. I offer it here as a template for the common good.
“Hi [name of future flatmate], just saw your room advert.”
A bit obvious, but it sets the mood.
“My name’s Ross, I’m originally from Scotland, I just graduated from the UvA, and I’m now working full-time at [job] here in Amsterdam. Before that, I used to live in Berlin.”
Note: replace this with your own backstory. Do not use mine. It will be confusing when you actually meet them.
“The flat sounds nice and really well-located.”
This bit works for anywhere, really. Even if the flat is located at the arse-end of the world, you should still congratulate the tenants on the quality of their location.
“I’m pretty sociable and enjoy hanging out in the evenings over a beer or wine or whatever.”
Replace beer and wine with whichever drink they mention in the room ad. So they drink Limoncello? Who cares! You want the room, don’t you??
“I’m generally pretty chilled, I do some sport in my free time [this is a lie], and I like cooking. I’m also fine with dogs [delete if not appropriate].”
In this case the room ad specifically mentioned a dog. Replace dog with cat, goldfish, children, tarantula, or whatever other life-form your potential flatmates choose to share their living space with.
“At weekends I either go out or just chill with friends in a bar, or go to check out a new city [lies again: I sit on the couch].”
The more unorthodox your hobby, the less prominently it should feature in your message. You think playing the didgeridoo makes you sound like a good flatmate? No.
“Anyway, if any of that sounds good then feel free to send me a message and it would be great to come for the kijkavond on Monday night. Cheers, Ross”
Says it all, really.
So there you have it! This basic template can be adapted to virtually any room ad. I have even used it with success in other cities since then.
And a final tip: if the room ad is more than a few hours old, you are probably out of luck. Be fast! Be first! Keep refreshing those FB pages. It’s soul-destroying stuff, but it will pay off in the end.
So give it a go. In the next part, I’ll be discussing the intricate etiquette of the kijkavond. In the meantime, why not share your own experiences below!