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PC: Pixabay

Welcome to Delft: Finding a home as an expat family


Welcome to the first post in an exciting series of articles about making your home in Delft! Delft Mama Xenia Gabriel kicks off this series with an overview of what to expect when you start looking for a home in Delft based on some of her own family’s experiences. At the end of the post, you’ll find a short list of resources for further reading. Grab your favorite beverage and get settled in!


by Xenia Gabriel

Moving to a new country is always an adventure. Choosing the right home for a family makes it even more exciting, but sometimes also more complicated. Do we rent a house, or an apartment? How do we choose the right area of town? When is it the right time to buy? Delft is a beautiful place to live, and it offers very different types of homes—from old, historic ones, to brand new and modern “smart” houses. When you embark on the quest to find a new home here, get ready for some exciting times.

Where to start

Funda

Usually the first place for everyone looking for a home in the Netherlands is Funda. Offering homes both for rent and for sale, it is a very easy platform to use; once you register, you can save your “favorites,” add notes, and react directly to the homes you like. You can filter your housing preferences  not only for geographical location and price, but also by such preferences as “by water,” or “renewable energy.”

De Hypotheker

If you want to buy a home and you’re thinking about your budget, you can do your first mortgage estimate on any Dutch bank’s website. The website of De Hypotheker—the biggest mortgage advisor company in the Netherlands—is also worth checking out. The information is in Dutch, but the online calculation tools are pretty simple to use. You need to know you and your partner’s gross annual income, and keep in mind any other financial obligations you may have—such as a car lease or alimony. The online forms for calculating your “maximum mortgage” (maximale hypotheek) are actually quite precise, and as my husband and I found out, very close to the estimate you get when you start working with your bank’s mortgage advisor.

Real Estate Agent

Getting your own real estate agent is a matter of personal preference, and may also be closely related to the state of the market. A good agent may be aware of a property that is not yet on the market but may perfectly fit your wishes. A good agent can also be very valuable if you get stuck in the bidding phase, and provide you with some basic legal advice during negotiation. When we started looking, the market was still quite slow; there were plenty of houses available, but not that many buyers. So we decided hiring an agent was not worth the money and we did all the work ourselves. It went just fine, and we saved a couple of thousand euros by doing so. Times are different now so it might be wiser to use some professional help.

Diversity of Delft

Though it’s not a very big town, Delft has many different neighborhoods. The historic center and the areas closest to it have that typical historic Dutch charm: old houses, beautiful architecture, and authentic details. The further away from the center you go, the more space you will get, and you will be even closer to nature. Perhaps you already have a strong preference for a particular area. If you are keeping your options open, then factors such as price, house and garden size, or surrounding facilities may play an important role to you.

Delft Center

Dutch-style historic row houses along a canal with green water and blue skies with white clouds. Cars are parked along the canal.
PC: Xenia Gabriel

The prices in the center are always quite high, and properties in this area usually sell very quickly. They are commonly a little smaller in size, some with a tiny garden, but often with lots of original details and genuine charm. There are many good elementary schools in the center, and if you don’t mind cycling everywhere, this can be a good choice for your family.

An older house, of course, means more maintenance, so this is something you should probably keep in mind if you plan on staying in this house for a longer time. For many people, living close to the market, the lovely cafes and restaurants, with views of the canals and the church towers, is worth the extra money and effort. My husband, however, was not one of those people, so we quickly dismissed the center and continued our search a bit further away.

Areas just outside the center

PC: Xenia Gabriel

There is plenty to choose from in the neighborhoods right outside the center. If you are looking for a “city feel” (such as an apartment with a view) you can look into Voorhof; they have just finished a new project of apartment buildings above De Hoven Passage mall. If you want a more spacious home with a garden, you may be interested to look into the Hof Van Delft, or the up and coming TU Delft area. The latter one was quite interesting for us.

The Professorenbuurt (“Professors’ Neighborhood”) offers some budget-friendly older houses built in the 1950’s. These homes are often in need of a little modernization—a new bathroom, a new kitchen, maybe even a whole extra floor could be added. For people who like to remodel a home to fit their wishes, such houses could be very interesting, and a bit lower on the price range.

Then there is the newly built project Schoemaker Plantage, just a block away from the Professorenbuurt. “Smart” houses, energy neutral, and eco-friendly. These are, however, higher up on the price scale; some require waiting lists or a lottery to even get on a waiting list to purchase a home.

Two alternatives to Delft:
Rijswijk Buiten and Ypenburg

Rijswijk Buiten

PC: Pixabay

Rijswijk Buiten has been built up in the last five years, bordering Delft and the A4 highway. This neighborhood is still vastly a construction site; but since we have friends who live there, we know that it has already become quite a cozy and beautiful place for family life. There is a brand new elementary school—although I know some parents may prefer a more established school—a new day care, and there are plans for a new supermarket and health center.

Public transport is still tricky. There should be a bus line coming to the area soon, but the last time we checked, people still had to rely on cars and bicycles to get around. This may not be so much of a problem for working couples that often have a car, but a bit of a hassle if you have your parents visiting the Netherlands regularly. Not every grandma or grandpa is ready (or brave enough) to take a bike ride when they want to pop over into town for a cup of coffee, a visit to the market, or a walk during the day. This was an important consideration for us, as our parents love to visit us, and we knew they would basically be stuck in the house for most of the work week.

Ypenburg

PC: Xenia Gabriel

Ypenburg technically belongs to The Hague, but is just a 10-minute bike ride from Delft. You can also take the tram or the bus. They started building this “new” neighborhood in the late 1990’s and it was a bit of an architectural experiment. There are still a couple of new projects being built, but there is quite a broad range of homes. There are also plenty of school options, sports clubs, a swimming pool and a shopping center, all within a few minutes from each other. We were lucky to quickly find a house that we fell in love with that was within our budget and ticked off all of our requirements. For my family, Ypenburg turned out to be the right choice.

The importance of following your heart

I have watched friends go through similar journeys while choosing their own homes, and I always like watching how they learn more about their own needs and preferences during the process. Take your time, and follow your heart when choosing. I wish you good luck!


Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, Xenia moved to the Netherlands with her husband in 2008. They have two children, 10 and 6. Her background is in literature and languages, but she works for an international trading company. She enjoys sharing experiences about life and parenting.


From the editors:

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with your housing search and your part of town! Perhaps you have questions you’d like to see addressed in this series? Please leave a comment, or contact us directly.

Want to read more about living in Delft?

Check out these past posts on the Delft MaMa blog:


Coming up next on the blog is a Halloween post from Natalia Moreno, including a guide to celebrating the festivities with the littles in Delft. Until then, dear readers!

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