It was Oscar Wilde who said: “The only thing to do with good advice, is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” It filled our hearts with immense gratitude to receive this story back from recent clients, Lisa and David:
As you know, we planned to arrive in the Netherlands in 2020. The COVID pandemic was raging; we had three kids to find schools for; and we needed advice on the 30% ruling, setting up companies, not to mention finding a rental in a very squeezed market. We got in touch and opted for your Settling In Package – not realising what an amazing life-changing decision that would turn out to be.
Your help was invaluable, and sooner than we expected, we were here, the kids were learning Dutch, and we were in situ in our new rental, looking around for a home to buy. We gradually worked through your meticulously laid-out “Checklist for settling in”, and eventually got to the last point on the list:
Neighbours: When you move into a new house, it is polite to introduce yourselves to your neighbours, either by putting letters or introduction cards in their post boxes or inviting them to your house for coffee or tea, or a glass of wine in the evening.
It was the dead of winter, and social distancing for Covid was still going strong. This final task was daunting. Eventually we dropped an introductory note (and a small bar of Tony’s Chocolonely!) into our neighbours’ busjes (postboxes) – the two houses to the right, and two houses to the left, of our new rental.
One by one, they dropped by to say hello and welcome us in return. All except the immediate neighbour from house 320. When we asked around, we heard that the house was now owned by the granddaughter of the man who had bought it around 1926 when it was first built. Her elderly mother had passed away a few months before our arrival. The granddaughter, Lilianne, they said, was not often in town, but occasionally visited the now-empty house.
One day Lilianne came to the door. She had found the note (and chocolate!). She came to introduce herself, and to say thank you for the chocolate, which had been in the letterbox for some months.
By this stage we had started wondering if we would ever be able to buy a property of our own. The pandemic had overheated the market to new highs. Buyers were overbidding as much as 20% above the asking price. We spoke to Lilianne about it, and asked: Did she have any wish to sell the house at 320? If she did, would she consider us?
After a long period of discussions, conversations, negotiations and many cups of coffee, we came to an agreement. The process was intensely warm and personal, with LIlianne sharing stories of her family home. She also taught us about the Dutch expression “”de vergun factor”. This is a hard-to-translate, but easy-to-understand principle often at play in the Dutch market: sometimes the house goes not to the highest bidder, but to the one that the seller gives a personal consideration.
In June 2021, we signed the “koopovereenkomst” (offer to purchase). After a year of renovations, we now live in our own beautiful home in the Netherlands. We are still in touch with Lilianne, and we think of you so often, as we cycle up to our red door along the canals of Haarlem. We cannot thank you enough.”
– David and Lisa, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2022