Nienke Bakker is the Office Manager at the Haarlem branch of Koops Makelaardij. For nearly five years, Bakker and her colleagues have been helping expats, as well as Dutch citizens, find comfortable and convenient accommodation in this relatively small city, which lies about 20 kilometers west of Amsterdam.
Bakker jokes that she is perhaps a little biased, being a Haarlem resident herself, but she can list some very compelling reasons why Haarlem is an ideal place to live. "There are many selling points for Haarlem," says Bakker. "It's cheaper, for one. You get more space for your money than in Amsterdam or Amstelveen. And it's very handy: a great city where you can find everything you need. If not, then it's easy to take the bus or train to Amsterdam. It's also convenient to get to Schiphol, and even the beach is just a bus or bike ride away."
Beyond convenience, Haarlem has a rich history and a beautiful square surrounded by shops, restaurants and pubs. Haarlem has already won several prizes for the ‘Best shopping street of Holland'. "It has everything you would want to find in a big city," Bakker says, "while still being quite cozy, and safe."
Koops Makelaardij, which also has a branch in Amstelveen, has been in business for nearly five years, and its entire staff has been part of the company from the beginning. "This means we have great relationships with the landlords in the city, and really know the market," Bakker says. "We are all very enthusiastic about what we do."
The agency has contracts with several large companies that relocate employees to the area, including Shell and Tata Steel, but Koops also works with individuals who are looking to rent while they save to buy a house, for example. Clients come from all over Europe, and as far away as Mexico and India.
"Haarlem is a nice choice for expats who want to have a real Dutch experience, to learn the language, to integrate more with their neighbors," Bakker says. "There is a nice expat community - and expats pubs and shops - but it's also easy to have contact with the local people here."
Koops currently has about 90 properties for rent in Haarlem, but its employees also have access to the listings of other agencies, which makes it well worth letting them do your apartment or house hunting for you.
Most rental agreements are for twelve months - which is the duration that Koops recommends to its clients - but properties can also be rented for as short a term as six months.
"Our process is to sit down with the client and find out what they want. Then we search for them, to narrow down our list to the most suitable properties," Bakker explains. "We handle everything. We arrange the contract, we inspect the property before our clients move in, and again after they move out."
For help finding temporary or longer term housing in Haarlem, stop by the office on the Gedempte Oude Gracht between 09.00 and 17.30, Monday through Friday. To check out current listings or contact an agent, visit www.koopsmakelaardij.nl.
You can also find Koops Makelaardij on Facebook and Twitter.