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  • Sara Maria @ssaraelf

Finally unpacking my suitcases: Sara

Finding a long-term housing can be a struggle in Amsterdam. Most people face this struggle at some point. In this situation persistence and a little luck are needed. Here's Sara's story of finally finding a permanent home after being homeless for +2 months.

Let’s just put this short and simple: finding a home in Amsterdam is a pain in the ass. There’s no way around it, it just is. Everything’s too expensive, far away, sketchy roommates… And the rooms/apartments that would be great? Well there’s you and 50 others wanting to rent that place. So how did I find a place to call home?

I’ve been living out of my suitcases for a bit over 2 months. First two weeks I was still in Finland, living on my friends couch. Then I came to Amsterdam. First week I was at an AirBnb. Then I went on to my friends floor (20m2 and two girls, not an ideal situation). After that I sub-rented a studio in Uilenstede from a master student. I was there for four weeks and on my second to last day there I got a message that my now-landlord wants to rent an apartment to me and my now-roommate. I didn’t sleep at all that night I got the message, I was way too hyped and grateful and just going on overdrive.

On those four weeks at Uilenstede I sent well over 100 messages about rooms and apartments. Most of them just never replied and the once that did, usually had bad news. I also got a fair share of extremely inappropriate suggestions from middle-aged men.

The biggest problems why I was troubling were that 1. I do not speak Dutch, 2. I’m a student, 3. I’m only 20 years old, 4. I need to register.

Here on a nutshell are some tips:

  1. If possible rent a place through the university. This will save you many sleepless nights and stressed tears.

  2. Go and join every possible housing facebook group.

  3. You have to be glued to your phone. The housing market changes in minutes. If there’s an add about a room, there will be 30 comments from interested people in five minutes.

  4. If possible throw money at the problem. Go to an agency and get them to help you.

  5. Use your contacts. Make friends, ask them to ask their friends and so one.

  6. Do not lose hope.

I did it all. I was on Kamernet, Funda, Pararius, Student Experience, etc. In facebook, I joined to 9 different apartment/room groups. I also contacted two different agencies and they were ready to help.

The way I in the end got our place is kinda different than most people’s stories. I made a post about me to find a roommate and I posted that to four different facebook groups. I got around 50 replies in the first 30min. I went and met up with a couple of people and that’s how I found my now-roommate. Couple of days later after seeing my add my now-landlord messaged me on facebook that he has an apartment opening up the next week and would I want to come and see it. We went and saw it, talked about everything and the same night our landlord messaged me that he chose me and my roommate to be the next tenants. So you can say that I had a lot of luck.

On many nights I was near tears and thinking that I will have to stop my studies and go back to Finland because I can’t find place to live. And even though I’m not a religious person I prayed to God, Allah, Buddha, Santa Claus and everything I could think of. And now after living out of suitcases for +2 moths, I’m able to unpack them and call an apartment home.

There is a silver lining in this all: I’ve became extremely sufficient packer during these moths.

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