How to buy a house in Amsterdam and Amstelveen – ask the experts in person

How to buy a house in Amsterdam and Amstelveen – ask the experts in person

The housing market in and around Amsterdam and Amstelveen can be pretty complex but more and more international workers see owning their own home as the best answer to ever rising rents. So if you've decided to take the plunge, how to buy a house? Buying your own home in a foreign country might seem daunting, but it is perfectly possible – as long as you get proper advice. Currently in Amsterdam and Amstelveen, properties are selling quickly and prices have risen to record levels over the past year. Nevertheless, there are still great buys around and a tuned-in estate agent will help you make the most of your money. There are plenty of legal ins and outs to deal with as well, so you will need to get good legal advice from a specialist notary too. On Sunday, December 3, a special event is being held at the Vondel church close to the park to help expats find their way around the housing maze. ‘The event will guide you through the entire home buying process, including the roles played by the real estate agent, the mortgage advisor and the notary,’ says organiser Monique Burgemeester. ‘You can find out about getting a mortgage in the Netherlands, get interior designer advice from a pro or even talk to a builder about renovations.’ Shortages ‘It's hard to buy a house in Amsterdam because there is so little owner-occupied property,’ says real estate agency Barry Burgemeester. ‘Just 30% of the city’s total property stock is privately owned. So finding and buying that house can be quite a challenge. That’s why it’s good to talk to someone who really understands the market.’ Of course, before you really get stuck into house hunting you need to find out how much you can borrow. ‘If you find a nice place it is crucial that you can act quickly and know your financial limits,’ says Henk Janssen of Expat Mortgages. ‘You need to know exactly what you can afford, so that you can make a bid and start negotiating. But you also need to know about the risks associated with a mortgage. We work with most banks and insurance companies so should be able to outline all the options open to you.’ Family law Once you’ve found your ideal home and secured a mortgage, it’s time to think about the paperwork. And that is where the notary – a type of lawyer who deals with housing contracts, wills and other family law issues – comes in. ‘All the official ‘moves’ for buying a home take place in the presence of a notary,’ says Dirk Kasper, of Kasper Notariaat, which specialises in helping internationals deal with the legal side of home ownerships. He too will be on hand to answer questions at the Amsterdam meeting. And if your dream home needs some renovations, Gisela Bakker of building company Bakker Bouw can guide you through the process. 'Getting the right permits can be complicated, but we can take care of that for you,' she says. 'It is our job to find out rules and regulations, before we start. 'Big renovation projects can take up a lot of time and research, and often requires a lot of patience, but the end result will be more than worth it.' In short, there is a lot to think about. If you’d like to find out more, or get answers to some of your questions, sign up for Sunday’s session and talk to the experts face to face. And if you’ve got the kids in tow, there will be a free nanny service to keep them entertained as well.  More >

The Netherlands' role in Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving story: How the Netherlands played a part in the American holiday Before they set sail for the New World and inspired the holiday of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims spent several years in Leiden. Brandon Hartley takes a look at a fascinating but often overlooked chapter in the histories of both the Netherlands and the United States and traces the footsteps of these pioneering Americans.    Anyone who spent time in a stateside grammar school is no doubt familiar with the simplified history of Thanksgiving; of the brave Pilgrims that sailed on a ship called the Mayflower to what is now the state of Massachusetts and participated in a feast after being aided by a friendly Native American tribe. But what they may not know is that, long before the Pilgrims hightailed it to the New World, they made a detour to Leiden - one that lasted over a decade. Trouble in England Like many holidays, Thanksgiving is the accumulation of various traditions and historical events that have had their rough-edges and complexities erased in order to make them more...  More >

Six classic Dutch winter warmers

Six classic Dutch winter warmers – all involving mashed potatoes and bacon Now winter has muscled in, it is time to eat real Dutch comfort food - and that means lots of mashed potato with either a bacon chop, a sausage or a meat ball. Robin Pascoe recommends six classic stamppot recipes. Despite all my years of living in the Netherlands, there is one classic Dutch dish that I still cannot bring myself to eat - the dreaded spinazie a la creme. Deep-frozen spinach with some sort of cream added in, served with fish fingers and mashed potato was, at one time, a Dutch tea time staple - and may still be if the television ads are anything to go by. The same goes for the ubiquitous ovenschotel (oven dish involving mince and/or pasta), and chicken with apple sauce. There are, however, some classic Dutch winter warmers, all based around the humble potato which have a lot to recommend them. And a generous amount of fried bacon bits (spekjes) are essential in every one. Hutspot Absolutely the best among the Dutch mashed meals, hutspot is probably related...  More >

Podcast: The Dog Ate My Flag Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Dog Ate My Flag Edition – Week 46 In this week's podcast we ask how the government can afford to give away €1.4 billion to foreign shareholders but only has €100 to spend on a flag for the Parliament chamber. Our favourite football manager Dick Advocaat bows out on a high note, a student fights for the right to be employed by Deliveroo and the OECD confirms what we've always suspected about Dutch doctors. Meanwhile, gummy bears caused a commotion in Utrecht while raw herring and manure were tainted with the whiff of corruption. In our discussion we investigate why the MH17 disaster has become a target for peddlers of fake news and conspiracy theories. Top story Government stands firm on dividend tax plan News Deliveroo courier takes company to court over freelance contracts Dutch doctors least likely to prescribe antibiotics Foreign students at Dutch universities double in 10 years Herring test results 'unreliable' (NOS, Dutch) Flag in Parliament cost €100 (Telegraaf, Dutch) Tweede...  More >

Anne Frank remains important symbol

Give everyone the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank Hardly a day has gone by in recent weeks without Anne Frank cropping up in the news. What is going on? asks Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. Football fans used her photo for an antisemitic provocation of their opponents, American stores were offering an Anne Frank costume for Halloween, the German railway company wanted to name a train after her, and there was an outcry - including threats of legal action - in connection with a new play loosely based on her diary. Seventy years after the publication of her diary the significance of Anne Frank seems only to be increasing. But this significance is not the same for everyone. Anne Frank has traditionally been seen by many as the face and the symbol of the Holocaust, even though objections have been raised against this, often based on good arguments. For example, it is often pointed out that the diary ends where the horrors of the camps begin, that Anne is ‘only’ one of the millions of victims of the...  More >

Health insurance in 2018: key facts

Dutch health insurance in 2018: what you need to know now All the Dutch health insurance companies have now published their premiums for 2018. So now is your chance to change your health plan or shop around for a more suitable or better deal. Here's some key things to think about. Like everyone who lives in the Netherlands, you have between now and January 1 to decide whether or not to switch to a new Dutch health insurance company. So what should you be taking into account? Health insurance premiums Firstly, there is the question of price. Some health insurers have put up their rates by a few euros a month, while a few have even made cuts. The average rise is around €2 a month, well below the €6.50 a month the government had been expecting. Nevertheless, the difference in premiums between the cheapest and most expensive policies is huge, despite the cover being exactly the same! In addition, as time goes on, the chances are that you have top up policies which exceed your budget or cover things you don’t need anymore...  More >

A VAT hike with a health warning?

Should the hike in value-added tax come with a health warning? Perhaps a paediatrician is not best placed to explain the effects of a hike in value-added tax and its impact on food, writes Mathijs Bouman. Who do you see if you have a question about your child’s illness? The paediatrician, of course. And who do you ask about the effect of price on household spending? That same paediatrician, naturally. Why? Because paediatricians know all about supply and demand: if something goes up in price people will buy less of it. That is why paediatrician Koen Joosten of the Erasmus Medical Centre got so worked up about the increase in VAT on food from 6% to 9% the other day. Standing in front of a vegetable stall positively bursting with health-giving but now more expensive foods he stated: ‘This will discourage people from eating fruit and vegetables.’ Joosten has my sympathy, he really does. He has been telling us for years we need to eat more healthily. He’s fighting the good fight and I promise to have an extra helping of broccoli tonight. But...  More >

Podcast: The Tax-Free Shortbread Edition

DutchNews Podcast – The Tax-Free Millionaires’ Shortbread Edition – Week 45 In the week that the Paradise Papers leak exposed some of the the murky dealings of the Dutch revenue service and Mark Rutte faced some awkward questions about his plans to scrap dividend tax, we ask how and why the Netherlands became a Valhalla of tax efficiency. Elsewhere, Dick Advocaat accidentally discloses his own departure as national team manager, a Van Gogh painting is revealed to contain a departed insect, and the deadline looms for health insurers to declare their rates for next year. Top story Ministers under pressure over dividend tax 'blackmail' News Brabant councils sign up for legal cannabis production plan Health insurers declare premiums for 2018 as deadline nears Click here to take part in ICP's international survey of Dutch health insurance Dead grasshopper found in Van Gogh painting (The Guardian) Philosophy school to give lessons on Mein Kampf Sport Netherlands grind out 1-0 win against Scotland Advocaat to step down after Romania...  More >

'The Dutch are emotional at times'

‘The Dutch are sometimes more emotional than they claim they are’ Belgian Peter Vandermeersch has been editor of the NRC newspaper since 2010 and now has no intention of living anywhere else but Amsterdam. He misses long Belgian lunches and still hates karnemelk but is planning to become Dutch so he can vote in the national elections. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here in a rather special way because I was elected editor of the NRC in 2010, the best newspaper in the Dutch language. Professionally it was much more exciting to work here - my dream come true. My wife is a lobbyist and she stayed in Brussels. One weekend I go back there and one weekend she comes here. We said we would do this for a year but it has now been seven years. We'll probably change the arrangement when my son completes secondary school. It would be nice to live together again. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? Sometimes I say I am a Vlaming who got lost in Holland and sometimes I say I am a Dutchman who was...  More >

Buying a home in the Netherlands: a risk?

To buy or not to buy? Is buying a home in the Netherlands worth the risk? Does it sometimes seem as if all your mates are jumping on the bandwagon and buying a home and you are still stuck in your rented flat with the creaky floors? Sometimes buying a home makes more sense, but not always. Here are a few key things to think about. The housing market, particularly in the big Dutch cities, is rarely out of the news at the moment - soaring prices, lack of choice, changes to the mortgage rules - you might consider yourself lucky in your rental flat, dodgy plumbing and all. After all, the greatest advantages of renting a home are flexibility and the lack of risk. You can come and go whenever you want, you’re not responsible for major maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about what would happen if the value of your property goes down. Of course, this comes with a price – literally. Renting in the Netherlands is not cheap and depending on where you are, you could be worse off financially in a rental property. A three-room flat in Amsterdam’s...  More >

Blog watching: Turning Dutch

Blog watching: 10 things you’ll find out when you move to the Netherlands Amanda van Mulligen is a mother, writer, author, blogger who was born in Britain but lives in the Netherlands. She has three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and blogs about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children. The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here are ten things you don’t necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here. 1. Coffee is an obsession There is a fair bit of cheese here and the Dutch do miss their Edam and Gouda when they leave the shores of the Netherlands but what comes as more of a surprise when you come to live here is the national obsession with coffee. The Dutch drink a lot of coffee. I mean an awful lot of coffee. How’s this for coffee drinking? After the Scandinavian...  More >