James Foley

Week in review 2024-15

House hunting enters the final stages

Notes on the week

This week has been dominated with the search for housing. As a recap, our landlord is returning from an extended work trip in the next few days, and we’ve been searching to find a new place to live for the past two months. This has been a pretty challenging experience, with the Netherlands going through a similar housing crisis to what’s happening in Ireland at the moment. Thankfully, in the past few days we’ve received offers for two apartments that we’re happy to accept, but for a minute there it was starting to look rough. With this experience in mind I thought it might be worth outlining a few thoughts on the experience.

There are a number of housing platforms in the market here in the Netherlands. Back home in Ireland my impression is that Daft.ie has the lions share of the traditional market, but here there are at least two major platforms, Funda and Pararius. Beyond those there are smaller players, and the individual estate agent’s websites as well (but those agents tend to post all their listings on one or both of the big platforms). Funda and Pararius are dominated by estate agents, but there is a healthy market for individual landlords as well, with sites like HousingAnywhere and Kamernet having a pretty good supply of houses and apartments.

Anecdotally we have had the most success with Kamernet - it’s where we found the apartment we’re living in right now, and also where one of our two prospects this time round was found. This doesn’t tell the whole story though, as the experience of using Kamernet is atrocious. The design is infuriating, basic features like search filters reset all the time, saved searches don’t save at all (what is the point), the messaging platform that’s built into the app feels like something built in the 90s but less resilient and on top of this they charge a monthly fee.

We’ve probably applied for close to, if not more than, 200 apartments in the past few weeks. Of those applications we were invited to view around 20. The vast majority of the houses that we saw were of a reasonably high standard, and I saw none of the horror stories that I’ve seen shared from home, especially in the Dublin housing market. There is a small amount of selection bias here, as we are not looking at the absolute bottom rung of the housing market, but I am still impressed. I reckon for what we need (2 bedrooms), the houses I’ve seen are all in the bottom 25% of the price range for the market, and none felt like exploitative, low standard housing. There was that one place without a sink in the bathroom, but that was an outlier.

The toughest thing about the whole experience, and what I imagine is a universal truth for those searching for housing at the moment regardless of which city or country, is the ‘always on’ nature of the hunt. It is a full time job, and then some. With the sheer number of people applying for viewings, if you’re not in the first 50 or so people to reply to an ad you’re at nothing. This resulted in us having notifications turned on for any new postings, as well as email summaries being delivered multiple times throughout the day. It’s kind of hard to fully think about anything else, as it’s always on the back of your mind that something might pop up, and you have to be ready to respond.

We have all our documents ready and collated into a single pdf that is easy to share. We have another document that contains our ‘personal statement’, explaining who we are and why we deserve a home, in two different formats as the different sites have different maximum length requirements for this entry. We also have the added benefit of having one of us working full time on a computer all day long, ready to pounce at a moments notice for any new property that matches our requirements.

The whole thing is exhausting. After a few weeks of this, we both sat down the other day and just sighed, it’s overwhelming. I can’t even begin to imagine what this experience must be like for anyone trying to find somewhere to live that also has kids to look after.

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Every single ad for a two bedroom apartment within 5km of Rotterdam City Centre.


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Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth came out recently, and I stumbled across this album of chilled out remixes of famous tracks from the FF universe.