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This December I’m celebrating nine years of living in Amsterdam. And I will celebrate them by making a change: I’m moving out. From this month, my new home will be the beautiful (and much smaller) city of Alkmaar. If you’re following my Instagram stories, you already know that, but I thought I should write an article and tell you more about this move.

It started with me being tired of paying tremendous amounts of money on the rent and wanting to buy a house of my own. In the Netherlands, buying is more convenient than renting, by far. Paying a mortgage is cheaper than paying rent, although it’s becoming more difficult these days to get that mortgage, because you need to bring some money to the table. I’ve been thinking about this move for years, but there was a catch: I knew I couldn’t afford to buy a flat in Amsterdam, and my only option would be to move to a different city. While I liked the idea of living in a smaller, quieter place, with the possibility of being closer to nature, I was scared because it meant I would move alone to a new city and leave all my friends in Amsterdam. There were so many fears: I feared I would isolate myself and feel lonely, that I wouldn’t find a proper cat sitter for my cat, that I wouldn’t like the commute, but most of all it was the fear of starting almost a new life. Moving outside of Amsterdam is like moving to a different country, because Amsterdam is a big bubble and a universe of its own, separated from the rest of the country. But in my years of living here I visited a lot of the Netherlands and I was charmed by the pretty cities I discovered and the nice people I’ve met — so I’m no “Amsterdam snob” who considers that life is possible only in this city.

The push to make a decision came when my landlady gave me the news that she would sell the house the following year. I knew for sure I didn’t want to go through the scary process of finding another rental, so I started the process of buying a place of my own.

Amsterdam streets

I have to admit I was very lucky in the entire process, even if the start wasn’t that good: I had a bad experience with a mortgage advisor who was more keen on judging my life choices than helping me, which made me sit back and think I should maybe look for alternatives. But I am lucky having the friends I have, and some of them decided to help me throughout the whole mortgage ordeal (from mortgage advice to translating stuff for me). I looked for flats in all the cities around Amsterdam, so I didn’t choose Alkmaar in particular. I just needed a nice place, not very far, where I could commute to work from without spending my whole life in the train. There were some preferences, of course, and Alkmaar ticked a few good boxes for me: the train ride to Amsterdam Centraal takes a bit over half an hour, it has a beautiful historical centre (where my flat is located), it’s close to the seaside and dunes.

Finding the flat was unbelievably quick, if we count from the moment when I actively started visiting houses: I bought the first one that I visited. I know it sounds crazy — but it’s not, because in the few months preceding this I was checking the real estate website every week, keeping an eye on the options, so when I saw this one I knew how it compared to the other houses on the market. I went there just to have a look, but I had that moment of “Ooh, I would really like to live here” so I made an offer which was accepted; and, even better, because no one lived in the flat at that moment, they could just give the keys immediately after signing the contract. I went from the “I will go visit some houses” mindset to “I wonder if my offer will be accepted” and to “Who is going to install my new floor?” and “OMG I am moving next week!” in a matter of days. So, I didn’t have much time to think about it and still can’t believe this is happening, even now as I write about it, from my new flat, sitting on the only chair I have. I guess I’ll be doing that later, after I’m done with the move.

Alkmaar canals

As you can imagine, it was very stressful to arrange everything in such a short time: I got the keys on 18 November and decided to move at the end of the month, to avoid paying both rent and mortgage at the same time. Typically of me, I thought I can do it all, so I also tried to live my life in the meantime: going to shows, taking interviews, etc. I was exhausted, and the Universe decided to tell me to slow down: one morning, trying to avoid a car parked on the bike path, I fell off the bike and hit my head pretty hard; also hit a knee and broke my glasses. So, I was forced to stop from my crazy race at least for a few days — a few precious days when I was supposed to pack my stuff. Luckily, I recovered quickly and was able to go on with the process, but it ended up being even more intense than expected, because I basically had to pack everything in one day, by myself. It was the moment when I discovered that I had way more stuff than I thought I did, and it seemed like the packing would never end. I went through a major decluttering session while packing but at some point I couldn’t take decisions anymore about what I should keep — so I kept everything. Therefore, another decluttering session followed when I started unpacking, and it’s still an ongoing process, as things fall into place in the new house. It’s definitely needed, especially since I downsized and I have less space to hoard stuff that I have no use for… I’ll write more about this in another article.

How is my life now in the new house, after two weeks? Well, I don’t think I can answer this question yet, because until now it was only about renovating, fixing, buying and assembling furniture, etc. Initially, I thought I only wanted to change the floor, but once I started looking more into the details, there were so many more things that desperately needed a fix! All I can say now is that I have a great view and I can witness spectacular sunrises, I have a very comfortable bed and I can hear seagulls from my living room. The rest will follow when I will manage to get into a normal routine and feel more at home here. My cat is still adjusting to the new home: he was very stressed in the first week, meowing a lot (especially at night), but now he’s more relaxed, watching the birds from the window and complaining less.

Now, about the future. What will the future bring? I’m moving out of Amsterdam but not leaving it completely, since my work and friends will still be here. I will commute a few times a week, by train. I will continue my life pretty much as it was before, but at the end of the day I’ll be going to my little quiet oasis and have a good night’s sleep. During the weekends, I’ll spend my time discovering the new city and the nearby places, or going on long walks on the beach. I hope I will adapt to the new life and I will love having the possibility to choose if I want to spend a quiet day in Alkmaar or to immerse myself in the more hectic Amsterdam. 

As for the blog: I will continue to write about Amsterdam and all it has to offer, I’ll continue doing reviews and interviews, but you’ll probably see more of Alkmaar here than you did before, as well as of the rest of the country. Maybe not being in Amsterdam every day will make me look at the city with fresh eyes once more, which is hard after nine years of living there. 

I will be closer to the seaside, so expect to see stories from my bike rides to Egmond aan Zee and Bergen aan Zee, to the dunes and forests in the area. Maybe some house makeover ideas too, if I’ll have the time to sit and write about it. We’ll see. Oh, and if you are from Alkmaar and reading this, I’m open to every advice you can give and remember I’m looking for new friends in this city! 😉

4 Comments

  1. Alkmaar sounds like a lovely, charming city. Any idea how professional opportunities are there? Any vibrant startup scene?

    • It is charming indeed! I haven’t explored the professional opportunities yet, but something tells me that I need to improve my Dutch before doing that 🙂

  2. So you’re saying for a non-Dutch speaker, there are better chances in Amsterdam than in a city like Alkmaar?

    • I would assume so, yes. Amsterdam is more international. But as I said, I didn’t try to look for a job in Alkmaar.

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