Buying your own home in a new country means navigating unfamiliar laws, customs, and cultures. It can be deeply challenging. Fortunately there is help! Mary Petiet gives us a closer look at Expat Mortgages and their creative solutions for finding your new home.

Ideally, we’d all move house and arrange mortgages in a calm and familiar environment. But real life can’t always be that way, especially if you’re living abroad and find yourself in a situation that requires you to re-think your housing options. 

Expat Mortgages: Help Through Life Changing Events

That’s what happened to one Amsterdam Mama, Silvia Chirinos, when she found herself on the far side of a huge life-change: house and mortgage hunting post divorce. She managed the transition from an Amsterdam apartment to a new house near Utrecht with the help of Expat Mortgages, a company dedicated to making members of the international community comfortable navigating home ownership in the Netherlands.

Silvia was born in Peru and raised in Virginia. In 2005 she moved to the Netherlands with her then-boyfriend. At 40 years old, she is a former Community Manager for Amsterdam Mamas, and she says her life has been full circle in Holland. “We bought the house, got married, and had kids,” she said of her 9-year marriage. However, the marriage ended two years ago and she is now selling the apartment she shared with her ex-husband in Amsterdam.

“I naively thought I could buy my ex-husband out of our Amsterdam apartment and stay there, but it was too expensive. I couldn’t buy him out and I couldn’t stay there on my own. The alimony didn’t cover it and Amsterdam is too expensive,” she said.

“A Dutch person can handle these changes more easily, but what about expats? You need extensive knowledge from somewhere. Expat Mortgages has that knowledge.” – Elitsa Zalevska 

Elitsa Zalevska, an expat herself, has handled marketing at Expat Mortgages for a year and a half. She discovered the company when she was arranging her own two mortgages. She hopes the international community will look at Expat Mortgages as a trusted partner in the property buying process, and keep their eyes open to possibilities they haven’t considered. “Maybe single moms, or moms stuck in marriages that aren’t working, it’s possible {to buy your own property}, it’s out there, don’t be afraid. If you’re thinking of splitting up, you don’t have to sacrifice your home. There are options for freelancers, people overseas about to come here, retired couples, and people whose partner has died. A Dutch person can handle these changes more easily, but what about expats? You need extensive knowledge from somewhere. Expat Mortgages has that knowledge,” she said.

When Silvia first approached Expat Mortgages, she’d been living in her existing Amsterdam apartment eight months after the divorce was final. “I had a job, but once I took over the mortgage, it was time to sell the apartment. My neighbors advised me to go to Expat Mortgages to find out how to make a house possible by putting the profit from the sale of the apartment towards a house,” Silvia explained.

She recalls her first impression of Expat Mortgages fondly. “They were optimistic and helpful. They gave me hope that I could achieve what I wanted,” she remembers. Having evaluated her situation, Expat Mortgages gave Silvia a budget and she began her search for a new house to share with her two young children. “They were there every step of the way,” she said.

After Sales Service: Going the Last Mile With You

Expat Mortgages has a team of over 35 administrators and advisors to help clients feel at home in the Netherlands. Between them, they liaise between the bank and the client, tracking paperwork and meeting deadlines to ensure the best mortgages possible. Once a mortgage is settled, Expat Mortgages goes the last mile with the guarantee of annual after sales service by an advisor dedicated to possibly re-negotiating the interest rate of the existing mortgage to ensure lower monthly rates.

Silvia first talked to Ralf van Arkel, a junior advisor at Expat Mortgages, about the plan to buy out her ex-husband’s share of the house, but as her situation was complicated another advisor, Roy Bijkerk, was called in as well. “Expat Mortgages works with complex cases. Silvia had lived in Amsterdam for 13 years, seven as a stay-at-home mom. She had only worked for her current job for four months and was getting divorced. We assured her that it would be okay, managed the paperwork on her behalf, and talked to the bank. We look at the situation, and if we can, we move forward. In Silvia’s case, the combination of Ralf’s enthusiasm and Roy’s experience charted a possible course forward. It was a five-month process from the beginning to moving to the new house near Utrecht for a fresh start,” Elitsa said.

“There is a lot of trust. They are incredibly trustworthy. Trust the process because they know what they are doing.” – Silvia Chirinos

A Lot of Trust

Moving is a big life change in any circumstance, but internationals abroad facing such life-altering situations have the added dimension of finding their way through what can look like a foreign maze. “It’s not going to be easy, be prepared for a roller coaster. It’s quite a ride, but it’s also achievable,” Silvia said of the process of buying a house as a newly single mother in a foreign country. These situations are what makes Expat Mortgages, an independent company devoted entirely to providing expats with mortgage advice in a language they understand, so crucial.

“There is a lot of trust. They are incredibly trustworthy. Trust the process because they know what they are doing. Don’t get caught up in anxiety and what ifs. It was complicated because of my divorce. The banks wanted proof of everything, and the day before the cut-off date I got the approval, with much hand holding and many phone calls from Roy and Ralf, who said they had seen worse, and it’s ok. They even talked to me on the weekend, they went above and beyond for sure. For anyone going through this, it’s not easy, but it’s so worth it. Just trust them,” Silvia said.


Beyond Amsterdam

Elitsa reports that Silvia has been in her new house for five months and sounds happy. The new house is southeast of Utrecht in Culemborg. Silvia commutes an hour daily to her job in Amsterdam, but she loves the simplicity she finds in Culemborg and doesn’t miss the city.

“Don’t be afraid to look outside your area. I’d been living in Amsterdam for 13 years and it was time for a change. While I love Amsterdam, I’m surprised at how much I don’t miss the city. If the kids were older that might be different, but here they can run around, and I have a garden and space, and there are fewer logistics involved,” Silvia states.


To find out more about Expat Mortgages, meet their team or visit their Facebook page. 

Note: Expat Mortgages has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy

Photo credit: Banner image from Freepik, Expat Mortgages logo from ExpatMortgages, other images from Freepik.

Mary Petiet
Website | Posts

Mary Petiet is an author, poet, and freelance writer. Her work is inspired by her native Cape Cod and her experiences in the Netherlands. The author of the recently released Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Difficult Times, Mary is also the founder of Sea Crow Press, a small independent imprint curating creative nonfiction and poetry to give her titles a home.