Finding the right place to live makes all the difference to ensuring that you feel truly at home when moving to a new country. Marta Parlatore has been talking to Roos Pham of 27 House Real Estate about the personalised and attentive services they offer to internationals relocating to Amsterdam.
So You’re Moving to Amsterdam. Now What?
Imagine you have to relocate to Amsterdam, possibly with your spouse and kids – but perhaps on your own, and perhaps for as little as a year. Maybe you are from a far away country, like the United States, or India, or Vietnam. What kind of support would you ideally need when looking for a suitable place to rent, or even buy?
I’m sure you’d like to be in touch with an Amsterdam-based real estate agency a few months ahead of your move – with someone who knows the city like the back of their hand and is an expert in handling the details and legal issues specific to becoming a foreign tenant, or house owner, in the Netherlands. I’m also sure you’d love to have personal and direct contact with your agent, so you could discuss choices and exchange ideas ahead of coming to Amsterdam on a recce of housing options targeted specifically to your needs and wants.
How to Feel at Home in a Foreign Land
I spoke with Roos Pham, manager of the rental team at 27 House, a real estate agency specialised since 2008 in just these kinds of assignments. “We understand how it feels to move from a different country, because half of our team comes from abroad,” Roos tells me. “We know all about the difficulties and emotional implications connected to this kind of move. You find yourself in a different country, different city, surrounded by people speaking a different language – at least you need to feel at home when you are in your house.”
… you need to feel at home when you are in your house.
27 Huis was founded in 2008 by Charles Grayson, an American real estate agent with 25 years of experience in the United States. He came to Amsterdam for love, and the decision to open an agency to help others in similar situations to the one he had been through was a logical follow-on. 27 House is not a relocation agency, but nonetheless there is an overlap in many of the services that they provide. They advise their clients on which areas of the city would best meet their needs, always keeping preferences about school, daycare, and other important locations in mind.
The Way a Place Feels Is What Matters Most
Roos is from The Hague. She came to Amsterdam to study in 2005. After graduating she did an internship at a real estate agency, where she gained the experience that enabled her subsequently to start work as a letting agent. When she got pregnant she switched to a more back office type of role, where she gained plenty of experience in dealing with house owners and paperwork, negotiations, contracts, and the Dutch law. In 2015 she joined the 27 House team as Rental Specialist.
For me it’s a lot about feeling. You come into an apartment and of course it has a bed and a couch, but you have to feel the energy of the place, the light that comes in, and understand if you feel good in there or not.
“I always send plenty of information, tell my client everything about an area of town,” Roos explains, “but I also tell them that I will bring them there so they can feel the area. For me it’s a lot about feeling. You come into an apartment and of course it has a bed and a couch, but you have to feel the energy of the place, the light that comes in, and understand if you feel good in there or not.”
Sometimes agents set a limit on how many houses they will show their clients before they have to make a choice, but that’s not the case with the 27 House team – they will keep looking, including in other agencies’ portfolios if necessary, until they find a home their client is genuinely happy with. “We always do things clients really want,” Roos says, ‘Even if we find an apartment we think is good, but our client has doubts, then we will advise him not to take it. We never push, we always search for the best.”
Helping You Settle In
Once you’ve found the home you’re looking for, all you need to do is go back and start packing. Your agent at 27 House will take care of all the negotiations and paperwork for you and help with loans and financial support as required, so that when you arrive in Amsterdam with your family, your house will be ready and waiting for you. Your agent will be there not only when you check in, but also afterwards and they will help you choose providers for internet, TV, and other utilities, advise you on how to register at the Gemeente (Municipality), all the way down to little things like locating nice restaurants, the library, or the nearest supermarket.
“Everyone in our team speaks English, of course, and we are very service-minded in a warm and personal way,” Roos tells me. “We do know our work is in fact to provide logistical support to a family in a difficult transition. We’re aware how important it is for our clients to have someone on their side who understands the market, the city, and the legal side of things. It makes a huge difference in such an emotionally delicate moment, especially if you are moving with kids.”
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Marta Parlatore is a filmmaker, freelance writer, and aspiring novelist who spends most of her days hustling time to write between the challenges of being a Toddler Mama and Household CEO. She's the founder of The Story Desk, a very independent screenwriting collective, and she loves to tell embarrassing stories about motherhood on her personal blog Baby Blues & Rock'N'Roll. Find her also on Facebook and Instagram.