5 Things I Learned From Moving in Amsterdam

By Elie - 11:30 AM

I'm back...and tired! Honestly, nobody warned me that moving was such a tiring affair - what with organizing moves, dealing with minor house improvements, and simply getting used to the new lifestyle.

Of course, while it does feel like such a draining journey, the experience has taught us so much about ourselves and each other along the way. And thus the idea of talking about the 5 things I learned from moving was born!

Paint to make it your own

I mean, why are there so many whites? 

We found that the first step to turning a house into a home was to give our walls a fresh coat of paint. While most of the walls at the house were white, the previous tenants also had accent walls across all the rooms that were all different colours - so we had brown in one room, a bright yellow in another, and a dark pink in the last. They were interesting, but we wanted something more uniform in our home.

After looking through Reddit, we found that the 2 brands that were being recommended the most were Sikkens and Sigma. We went with the former despite its price point, simply because we didn't foresee wanting to do the painting all over again while we live here. It turned out to be a really good idea because the paint was extremely forgiving to us novice painters, going on easy and seemingly "repairing" itself at parts that we didn't do a truly good job at. 

To that point though, the second thing we learned was...

To be okay with mistakes

Also RIP this t-shirt...

I remember how there was a day we were both feeling so tired and cranky that we nearly gave up turning this into a DIY project. There were glimpses of temptations to hire someone to do the painting and everything else, but trust me when I say hiring a handyman in the Netherlands costs you an arm and a leg.

And so, I'd definitely say that you should be okay with making mistakes in your house. Don't like the paint job of the first wall you did? Be okay with it. You can always come back to fix it after you've gotten enough experience from painting all the other patches. Eventually, we downed enough coffee into our systems to push through and turned every accent wall white - which in my honest opinion was the best thing we did for starters. 

Learn where to get your paint, tools, and more

So this should have been the most important point, but I also felt like getting yourself in the right mindset is just as crucial as getting the right tools. Once you're sure you're ready to move on with making your house a home, these are the places you get explore to get your things. 

Hardware stores for paint, ladder, and floor coverings
Two major hardware stores that you can find around Amsterdam are Praxis and GAMMA. Their prices can get rather competitive with each other, so it's always best to survey between the two. For instance, we got our paint from GAMMA but picked up a smaller can from Praxis after when we needed some touch-up done. 

The paint, the ladder, the floor coverings...everything!

When painting your walls, you'd want to be sure to cover your floor with something that doesn't slip and can absorb paint in case of spills. The woven floor coverings that we got from GAMMA were slightly pricier than expected, but it helped during our klutzy moments and I'm grateful for it. You could also get drills and stuff from either GAMMA or Praxis, but a price comparison on Amazon won't hurt.

The only thing I don't recommend purchasing from GAMMA, however, would be their paintbrushes, rollers, paint holders, and such tiny accessories. Instead, you should look into visiting Action, a store that's neither a real hardware store nor a grocery spot. Action sells a whole load of random things from food to hardwares to furniture, kids' toys, shoes, and more - including paintbrushes and rollers. Heck, they also carry paint brands but they're not of the best quality. 

Furniture - couches, beds, mattresses, lights, tables, and more

I am obsessed with my yellow armchair!

It's no secret that my home is now made of 90% IKEA furniture - as would most starter homes. IKEA furniture are known to be reasonably priced, sturdy, and to a point easy to put together. The one thing I really enjoyed was knowing that I could pick between paying for a delivery to get to the door or to the specific room I wanted. Despite having to pay an extra €10 for the latter, I found it to be the best €10 I'd spent because our bed frames, cupboards, and my other half's work table would have never made it up our stairs. 

Friends and colleagues have also recommended designer items from a website called MADE.com but I've found their price points to be less friendly to a starter home. Granted that their items may be designer, but I can't vouch for its quality since we never took the leap to put in an order. For the most of it, I even found close-enough knockoffs from IKEA that I just continued going back to the Swedish furniture mogul. 

Get help moving

Forever grateful we didn't think to do this ourselves.

So I have to admit that this is a slight culture shock for me, because the moment my other half and I started discussing moving, we had so many friends and colleagues who offered to help. People were literally telling us they can come drive us or help us pack and stuff - all of which we obviously said thank you to, but thought it was straight out of courtesy. It wasn't until my other half's manager offered to come on a set date to drive us and some of our items over to the new place that we realized how serious people were about helping. 

While the gesture was amazing, we were obviously not packed or ready so that offer came and went almost as quickly. In the end, we scouted about for some movers and ended up with Student Verhuis Services. This is loosely translated to "student moving services", and as you can imagine it, the movers are students who are looking to earn a few quick bucks. The experience with the movers were amazing but I guess I'll keep that as a discussion for a different day. 

The weather is everything

This was a day after the heatwave in the Netherlands

As with many things related to moving, I'd say the weather controls most of what you can and cannot do for the day. For instance, painting during warm summer days may feel like hell for you, but it sure does a good job at drying the paint on the wall. The same can be said about having the movers do their job, because we absolutely couldn't imagine having our belonging moved in the rain. 

That said, I later understood why my friend said we got really lucky with booking a mover's slot in the summer because it was prime moving weather. We had the sun shining bright and dandy for us, and the longer days meant we also had more time clearing things up. Summer is apparently Amsterdam's moving season where everyone tries to start anew so apparently we did something good there without even knowing it.

Of course, these things are arguably based on common sense when it comes to moving but sometimes you just get lost in the state of moving and hopefully this post will help you around especially if you're in Amsterdam. There's still lots of work to be done in our home as I'm writing this, but at least we know it's our place to be for the next many, many, MANY years from hereon out.

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