Our Forever Home
"Home Is Where The Heart
A house is made of
bricks, a Home is made of love and dreams!
search for our forever home began in the Spring of 2019 and was a long
and often arduous process. The housing market in the Netherlands is a
difficult one to navigate, primarily because there is great
demand and homes are expensive. Because there is such competition for
homes, quite often we were rejected by the seller's realtor to even
tour a house because they already had a list of potential buyers. It
made no difference we were pre-qualified and approved for a loan and
had proof of cash payment to make up the rest of the purchase. This
fact did not seem to even cause the realtor to bat an eye, which was so
amazing to me. It was not unusual to call for an appointment to view a
house and be offered a date almost a month later. Also, you work
directly with the seller's realtor. Coming from the robust housing
market in the US (and specifically in Dallas, where I received and
accepted a full price offer within one hour from the time the house
listed.... and my realtor continued to show the house and accept
contingent offers until we knew the first offer was secured), this was
definitely a lesson in patience.
Another difference between the US and the Netherlands is that the
American housing market demands a home be in pristine condition when it
is listed if the seller wants to reach their asking price. Homes are
cleaned and staged and everything is done to bring in a potential buyer
quickly and to "sell them" your home. Not so in the Netherlands. "Take
it as it is" seems to be the standard.... and with that comes a lot of
projects and a very high asking price for a home the size of a postage
stamp. So, it was with this reality that we embarked with enthusiasm
and hope to find our dream home. During the last year, I have
learned that while a room may be called a kitchen, the kitchen
appliances may or may not stay with the home. I have learned that the
majority of homes (both new and old) do not have closets in the
bedrooms. I have learned that a home with more than one bathroom is
quite extraordinary, and that a kitchen sink is about the size of a
standard American bathroom sink. I have learned that Dutch
families place more pride in their outdoor space (garden and covered
patio space of garden house) than they do their house. I have
learned that a Dutch family of 5 lives comfortably in a space
equivalent to 1,400 square feet.
It's funny how, over the course of the years I have lived here, my list
of important home features has changed. In the U.S. I would have been
looking at the size of the kitchen and the quality of appliances, and
the size of the master-bath and walk-in closets, etc. All of these
features are very "American" ideas of what makes a home comfortable.
For me, an evolution has occurred and when we sat down to make our list
of what we want in our forever home, I had the following at the top of
1. bathroom/toilet on the same floor as the bedroom
2. space for a dedicated laundry room that was large
enough for both a washer and dryer
3. an entry hall or utility room where coats, shoes,
etc. could be kept.
4. secondary living space (not just a living and
dining room combination)
5. a tucked away place for the litter box
6. off street dedicated parking
7. a bedroom on the main floor (or at least a space
which could be used as a bedroom which is on the main floor).
For those of you who know what Dutch stairs are like, you will
understand that 20 years from now I will be thankful that I insisted on
For any of you reading this who have visited my homes (Virginia and
Texas) you are probably scratching your heads with this list of "must
haves" and I understand that. I look at them and chuckle at how life
has changed and how our needs and wants have shifted.
John was born and raised in the province of Limburg, Zuid Limburg to be
exact. Right on the edge of the beautiful Heuvelland. The rolling hills
of this area and the close proximity to both Belgium and Germany make
it a very attractive place to live. Click on Voerendaal
and it will take you to Google maps with all the places, that is the
village where our current home is located. John has lived here 14
years. He was born in Heerlen, which is the bordering town. He was born
in a house on General Patton Street. But that is a story for another
As we started our home search, we knew we wanted to stay in
Zuid-Limburg. However, after a long search with very little home
inventory, we expanded the radius a bit north into the Middle of
Our home tours started in earnest in July when I returned to the
Netherlands. John had already been doing some limited tours of houses
we had identified through FUNDA (similar to Realtor.com), but for one
reason or another we had not pursued anything. I won't go into details
of what occurred during our home search because we ultimately found the
house best suited for us so we are glad nothing else worked out.
Just on a whim we expanded our search to the middle of Limburg and
found that John's commute to work was of equal distance but just
approached from North to South rather from South to North. Once we were
comfortable leaving the south of Limburg and the area John was raised,
we began to see that the opportunity for a larger home with a lower
price was possible. Every house we have looked at has needed some
amount of updating so we wanted to factor that expense in with our
When we saw the photos of the house in Posterholt
we knew there was potential. Our research told us the home had been on
the market for a considerable period of time. We liked the church
village where the home was located, and its close proximity to the
beautiful city of Roermond.
we looked at the photos provided on the listing, we saw what we thought
might be the reason the home had not sold. When it was built, the owner
had made a winkel (shop) on the front right side of the home. This was
no longer used as a shop, but the exterior of the home looked like a
shop was there, and the internal photos showed a large room with no
personality. The current owner is a therapist and apparently she used
this space as her office and where she counseled/taught children. When
I saw the space I immediately knew what I would do with it, and I was
anxious to have a tour.
John arranged for a tour and we were happy with what we found.
house had been "lived in easily" by the present owners. Nothing was in
disrepair and we could easily move in without needing to do any major
upgrades other than removing upstairs carpet. The space was big and
sunny. The location was in the heart of the village with a bus stop
just steps from the front door. A nice market within a short walk, and
a lovely cobblestone street in front of the home. We were especially
happy with off-street parking, two-car garage (almost unheard of in the
Netherlands) and a walled garden with a lot of privacy and no grass to
maintain. We also liked that the existing kitchen was new and
functional and would not require us to do immediate work on the new
kitchen we envisioned to be built in the existing shop area. There is a
bedroom with a private entrance off the patio, toilet, and washroom
room on the main floor which we really wanted, and sufficient bedrooms
for us to have an office for me, a "man cave" for John, a large guest
bedroom, another bedroom which we can use as a closet, and (drum roll)
a dedicated laundry room with a sink. The owners are older and retired.
The man is named Wim and he is a retired teacher. His wife, Agnes, is a
retired child therapist. They have lived in the home since 2005. They
have "gently lived" in the home..... We asked our makelaar (realtor)
his opinion about why the home had been on the market for such a long
time and he said the size was too big for most Dutch, and the area
where the shop had existed (and presently the owner's therapy practice)
was confusing to people because they did not know what to do with it.
John and I discussed this and we both shared the same vision for the
large shop room. We saw a large kitchen and family room with expansive
counters, large stove, farmers under-mount sink, glass front cabinets
which went to the ceiling, built in hutch and refrigerator, built-in
desk, and build-in bookcases. We also saw that we could have room for a
large kitchen island as well as a place for a table and a TV and a
seating area with sofa and chars. We really want a place of gathering
and we knew this room, which was so confusing to others, would be
perfect for our needs.
The price of the house was already reduced. We arranged for an engineer
to come and evaluate the condition of the home. It took several weeks
for us to get this scheduled. Overall, the engineer felt we had a solid
home and the things he identified which needed to be done were, for the
most part, things John could do. The things that should be done over
time were not anything unusual (more preventative maintenance) and
things a home owner would expect to do. The engineer felt the home was
in great shape and that we had a good deal at the current list price. A
point of frustration for me with this process is that I am use to the
American way of buying and selling a home, and I was wanting to see
market research for comparable homes listed in the area and final
purchase price - things that are not available here. So, I began my own
research and then prepared my own analysis (about 5 pages) of
comparable homes in the area; how long on the market; original list
price; final sale price, comparable features, etc. Based on this, John
and I made an offer which was quite a bit below the already reduced
price. The sellers countered (which we knew they would) and we stressed
to their realtor that I had done extensive research and was not going
to pay more for the house than what we were offering..... we knew they
needed to sell and had been trying to sell for a long time, and our
offer was low enough that with counter offer we could come up with our
price and still be well below our budget. We offered to come up a bit
with the price and the sellers accepted.
John was already approved for his part of the home purchase (via a
mortgage) and we are fortunate that interest rates are at record lows
right now. Just before I left for the States we signed for the house,
this is only so the house goes of the market.
Little did we know of the arduous process for having my part of the
home purchase transferred to a Dutch bank from my US bank account but I
will spare you the details of that.
I am too use to the American process (remember my house received an
offer within one hour of listing and we closed in 30 days) so having to
be patient for three months while we went through the closing process
We receive the key to the house Friday, May 1st. We will immediately
start to remove the carpet upstairs (downstairs has hardwood and stone
tiles) and the new carpet for our bedrooms will be installed May 12th.
We have selected "cappuccino" color (a little lighter than the carpet
in Jim's study at the Butternut house).
We will have 22 solar panels installed on May 6th. John is most excited
about this since electricity is so expensive here and I come with my
American habit of keeping lamps burning for ambiance. The other reason
for solar is that Europe is pushing everyone away from gas appliances
and at some point they will no longer be serviced so we want to be in
compliance when that occurs (we prefer gas but it is what it is).
We have a moving van rented for May 8-11 and several friends, and
John's nephew, who have offered to help us load/unload. Of course, with
our masks and our gloves.
Our house is unusual in that each room has several closets (not walk-in
closets) but closets nonetheless - some with shelves and some for
hanging clothes. This is highly, highly unusual for an older home here.
However, this is still not enough for our (my) clothes, so the smaller
bedroom will be converted to a closet. We found a store in the town of
Hoensbroek which was remodeling and they were selling their clothing
display closets and shelves and we were able to buy those. They will be
delivered on 7th. They are very tall and will need to be cut down a few
inches and painted, but that is a project we are happy to take on as
they are well made and will make for a wonderful clothing room.
The last project for the summer will be insulating the attic, which is
something John will do (with my help.....). We already have a plan for
the kitchen but we will most likely delay the installation until Sept
simply because of the impact of the virus and trying to get the work
We have some nice antiques for the new house - all bought locally from
private sellers. More to come on that.