Haarlem, Here We Are!

Well, we have finally made it to Haarlem and are all settled in our lovely little apartment.  We love it here, although the move was more difficult than we had anticipated.  I have no idea how two people who came to the Netherlands from London with only a few suitcases managed to accumulate so much stuff in six months!

The Friday before last was the day of the big move.  Willem and I had spent the entire day Thursday packing all of our stuff in Tilburg into boxes and cleaning the apartment from top to bottom.  As I mentioned in my previous post on house hunting in Haarlem, many people in the Netherlands bring their entire floors and kitchens with them when they move, so outgoing tenants are usually required to strip the floors of any carpet or other flooring, as well as detach and remove all kitchen appliances and cabinets before they vacate the apartment.  This provides a clean slate for the incoming tenant to customize the apartment with their own items.  We were lucky enough to find new renters who were willing to keep the floors that were already installed, saving us the hassle of ripping up 50 square meters of flooring. However, the things we did have to do to ready the apartment for the final inspection before moving still kept us busy for the better part of two days.


These IKEA boxes were the bane of my existence for about six hours

On Friday, I woke up before the sun rose in order to take the train to Haarlem ahead of Willem in order to prepare our new apartment for the move-in.  Willem and his cousin planned to load the van without me and drive it to Haarlem to meet me, where we would all move the stuff into the apartment.  I got to the new place around 10am, and got started putting together what seemed like endless IKEA bookshelves and tables.  Six hours later, my hands were scraped up and swollen, and my knees were killing me from kneeling on hard floors for hours, but the products of my work were all in place (and they look good, if I do say so myself!).  If anyone ever needs an emergency furniture putter-together, I’m your girl.  I could put together a Billy bookshelf in my sleep now!

About the time I was congratulating myself on my IKEA-building skills, I started to wonder where the boys were with all of our stuff.  It turns out moving takes an inordinate amount of time when you have to carry each box down two long hallways, three flights of stairs and out to the street where the van is parked.

By the time Willem arrived with the van in Haarlem, it was 8pm.  We immediately started to unload the big items of furniture. I wasn’t much help with the furniture, mostly because it was impossible for more than two people to move up the three tiny, winding staircases from the bookshop to our apartment.  So the poor guys were left to suffer, trying to figure out how a couch wider than the stairwell was going to ever get upstairs.  Oh, the joys of moving in Europe!


Success! All of our stuff is up the stairs and inside the apartment. Now, to make sense of the mess…

It was after midnight before Willem’s cousin had left and we had finished getting everything dumped into the living room of the apartment.  I’m pretty sure I had walked up and down the three floors at least 100 times by that point.  We decided to admit defeat for one day, and retired for our first night as residents of Haarlem.  The next morning we got back to work, and spent the entire day unpacking and making the apartment our home.  Instead of describing how the process went, I figured it would be more interesting to illustrate the transformation in pictures.  Welcome to our new home in Haarlem!


Living Area BEFORE- Notice my beautiful bookshelf handiwork?


Living Area AFTER


Living Area AFTER


Living Area AFTER


I love the living area rug!


Attic/Bedroom Area BEFORE


Bedroom AFTER


Bedroom AFTER

12 thoughts on “Haarlem, Here We Are!

  1. Sarah & Willem; Welcome to the real world of life. I had to laugh because I see your Grand Mother and me in early marriage. The first move from Indiana to VA. consisted of everything fitting in her car, which uncle Donald drove it back to the apartment. Next move about a year later required a pickup truck and several trips with a car. Next move about a year later took all day with pickup to the house we lived in for 33 years. I don’t want to say about the next move.
    So prepare as each move will grow but it’s all worth it. Now you know why I was laughing. Enjoy it while you are young. Love Grand Pa.

  2. Sarah, What is a “Billy Bookcase” ? I have never heard of it before.
    The apartment looks very nice, you done a good job. Grand Pa.

  3. After 10 years in NL I still don’t understand the logic behid ripping off floors. Why don’t everybody just agree to leave things as they are and leave the choice of keeping or removing it to the new tenant? Congratulations on your victory over the Dutch stairs…

  4. Hi! Thanks for the lovely comment. It’s such an odd and slightly uncomfortable situation to not love your ‘incredible and adventurous’ life. Thank you for the support. I hope your experience feels more like life/home once you guys are settled in Haarlem. We have so many similarities by the way. We recently signed a contracts to teach English in Varna, Bulgaria. No one I’ve mentioned Varna too has heard about it and you’ve been there! Could we, you know, be friends?! Also, also, also, the family I babysit for lives on the 3rd floor and are moving on Friday. I’ve carried so much stuff up and down those stairs. If its possible, lets meet up soon! We live so close. We could probably cycle and meet in the middle.

  5. Sarah!!!!! That’s like … a real, grown-up apartment!! With books! Wow! Looks great!! Heehe, but it’s not the first time you’ve moved up three flights though, remember the now-demolished Webb?! 🙂 xx

  6. Lovely to read this post on moving to a house in Haarlem. I did the same 2 months back and i could totally relate to the experience recounted brilliantly!
    Luckily I got a house that was fully furnished and very elegantly too… Soaring the 100s of stair climbing.
    Very happy that I stumbled into this blog. Nice guide to explore Netherlands. Thanks.
    Keep sharing your experiences.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s