So you couldn’t wait till part 2 huh? In this article, I will shed some light on the practical challenges of moving in to the..ehm..modest apartments of the Netherlands. In case you missed part 1, check it out here.
Most apartments in this country do not come furnished. The ones that do are often more expensive. So you are left with an affordable place with zero furniture. And by zero I mean there is even a chance there will be no washing machine. If you are lucky, no flooring either. ( I know, right!) For the thrifty among us, marktplaats.nl will be your best friend. The site is like the Dutch craigslist in convenience as well as precautions. Always aim for local pickup or payment upon delivery to avoid being scammed. Those local communities on Facebook are also a big help as they are full of people like you moving out or getting rid of things, often for very cheap. Same goes for major appliances.
Another reason to love the Swedish
For those of you that desire freshly packed new goods, yet are still on a budget (you know where I’m going with this) I’d recommend a trip to IKEA (told ya). If you are fortunate enough to live in a city where the giant blue and yellow warehouse is located, hop a bus or tram down and check the place for inspiration. Alternatively, browse their website to search for furniture pieces that you need. I’ve found that IKEA offers decent products in every price category, as long as you are willing to assemble it yourself. Another bit of good news, IKEA delivers! For large orders, or orders with large items, delivery is about 45 euros. This may or may not be advantageous for you. Do whatever suits your budget. Planning ahead when moving to the Netherlands is paramount to a smooth experience. Search for furniture that can be taken apart and/or fit through the doorways of your new place.
!#@# Dutch Stairs
If you are lucky enough to find a place that absolutely excites you to live in, signed the contract, got the keys, and started planning your first dinner party, then stumbled slightly on that narrow winding staircase and thought to yourself, “meh not a big deal. I’ll get used to it,”…Guess what, its about to be a big deal. Trying to move a couch through a typical narrow staircase is like putting on that old favorite pair of jeans from 10 years ago you know don’t fit anymore. Yet, you still try. You are convinced you haven’t grown a size or two. You are convinced this couch will fit. No. Stop trying. If you have reached the point of no return ( you bought the couch already) look for a window that opens wide enough or see if you can take the couch apart or grab a magic wand and attempt to make it smaller.
When I was a young lad, my new roommates and I had just moved into a cozy 1st floor place in nearby Leiderdorp. We were given a huge, hideous yet comfortable forest green couch to have our way with. We were on a student budget, so we had little money over after covering necessary expenses (school books, beer, rent, beer, food, beer). A makeshift skateboard was our method of transportation. After the 2.5 km hike from the city to our new pad, we attempted to get the first of the 3 piece sitter up the stairs. You guessed it; they were narrow and winding. Needless to say, 2 of the 3 pieces didn’t fit. So, resourceful and youthful as we were, we opened up the doors to our balcony that overlooked the street looked down and collectively decided that the couch would fit through here. Two of us lifted the couch above our heads, while one stood on the balcony attempting to catch the thing. Once it was secured in the hands, one of the two downstairs (me) had to run inside and up the stairs to assist the one on the balcony to get it in safely. Moral of the story: anything is possible! Or, just plan ahead.
In your city, there are a few options when it comes to actually transporting things. Local moving services, new friends/colleagues, and rental vans are just a google search or whatsapp away. All places should be straightforward with their prices and requirements (I can’t vouch for your friends) and most speak English. Keep in mind when renting a moving van, not all rental companies accept all foreign driver’s licenses. Be sure to ask before making a reservation.
If you’ve found a neat little piece of furniture within walking distance from your place, don’t be afraid to pick it up and walk through the city. It’s a common occurrence, especially in student towns. I’ve seen shopping carts and bikes be repurposed for moving things. Don’t sweat it. Just do it.
There you have it, the major points you will run into when moving to the beautiful Netherlands! Remember, planning ahead will help greatly, being thrifty is a way of life, and size does matter.