Moving house can be stressful, and if you’re not used to the quirks of Holland, like tiny streets and vertigo-inducing stairwells, it can become a lot more so. Read on for tips and tricks to help your move go smoothly.
Whether you plan on renting a van and moving yourself or hiring professionals, there are many things to take into account that can mean the difference between a well-oiled machine of movement or a disaster. With a little careful planning, you can stay on top of your move.
If you live in, or you’re moving to one of the old cities like Amsterdam, Haarlem or Utrecht, there are special cases. To move in Amsterdam, for example, isn’t always easy for expats. There are small city streets, small stairways, iron hooks on the roof of the buildings, and so on, which – if you aren’t used to – are a challenge. The city has some specific needs which take some time to adapt to.
Here are some tips to help ensure that your move in the Netherlands goes well.
Preparing for your move in the Netherlands
Plan your timeline
As soon as you know you’re going to move, start making a to-do list, set against a timeline. Take into account the fact that some offices and agencies don’t work on weekends.
Determine the logistics
Are you moving up or down stairs? Is there a hook on the front of your building? Do you live on a narrow street? How much stuff do you have – enough to fit a minivan, or do you need a big truck?
Do you prefer to move yourself or hire a company to help you? Figure out what are the special needs of your move such as pets for example.
Get the street permits
If your moving van will need to block the street while you load and/or unload, you need a permit from the municipality. This is especially complicated for expats, because of the language barrier. You also have to include a drawing or diagram of the situation on the street. You must pay for the application, and they still have the right to refuse your request, so it’s a risk. This is one of the major advantages to hiring an Amsterdam-based moving company: they take care of that for you.
Tips for packing for your move
Start packing ASAP
This almost sounds too obvious to mention, but it’s important. Packing is one of those activities that seems like it’s “almost done,” only to have you scrambling with tons of little chores and inconveniences at the last minute. It’s best to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
Pack according to room
Rather than packing things in random boxes according to how they fit together in a box, Tetris-style, try to keep kitchen wares together, and bedroom items boxed up together. This will help ensure that when you’re unpacking at your new home, it’s as easy as possible to find things.
Label your boxes
Use stickers or even just write on the boxes, to mark what each box contains and where it goes. Number the boxes, too, so you have an inventory – and, if you want to make sure everything has made its way to your new home, take a quick photo of each box’s label with your smartphone.
Separate your valuables
Pack separately anything critical, like important documents, keys, your passport, etc. Also set aside anything that you need quick access to.
Keep your boxes light
Don’t overfill your boxes; remember, they have to be lifted and carried. If you’re moving your own boxes, make sure you can pick up and carry each of them comfortably, keeping in mind that you’ll be doing it again and again with many boxes and will likely get fatigued. Or, if you’re hiring professional movers, a good guideline is a max of 20 kg (40 lbs) per box.
Moving tips in Amsterdam
Moving within the city centre has special needs, like the permits needed to block the road mentioned above. Another matter to take into account? The iron hooks.
Using the iron hooks is actually not allowed anymore officially, but they do let people do it because they know there isn’t another way. Getting big furniture up and down the narrow and steep stairs just isn’t an option sometimes, so the iron hook hanging from the roof beams is your best bet.
However, it’s harder than it looks: the iron hooks are supposed to be maintained and checked annually to make sure the beam can support the weight, but they’re often neglected or in a state of disrepair. Because it’s not officially allowed, none of the moving companies in Amsterdam are insured for moving with the iron hook, which makes it risky business. You really need a company that can work well with the hook, rope and pulley.
The best option is to hire someone who, even if their use of the hook isn’t insured, is experienced enough to advise and do it well. If you don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself (for good reason) or feel safe with the risk of a moving company doing it for you, there’s also the option, for an extra fee, to use the moving elevators that can be set up outside your building.
After your move: settling in and registering with the municipality
If you’ve followed the packing tips above, your boxes will be beautifully marked for the room where they belong, and unpacking will be a breeze. While you might be eager to start unpacking as soon as the first boxes hit your floor, you might wait until the movers are out of the way, to give them space to finish the job. It’ll save time and headache.
After you’ve moved to your new home, remember that you need to update your address officially. Iamsterdam advises: “When moving to a new address in Amsterdam or the Netherlands, notify the municipality (gemeente) no earlier than one month before and no later than five working days after.” You can do so in person or online, and will need to provide:
- a valid ID (like a passport or residence permit),
- a tenancy agreement or purchase contract for your new residence,
- and if you’re lodging with someone, a copy of the ID of that person together with a declaration of permission to live there.
You’ll be settled into your new home and new neighbourhood in no time!