Tag Archives: garden

What $2.950.000 buys you in New York.. and in Amsterdam

A recent post on one of my favourite blogs, The Real Estalker, featured a modest two bedroom apartment in NYC. I am no newbie to international real estate so know that prices tend to be, well, insane there, but this surprised me. The 1,486 square feet apartment is listed for $2,950.000….

Don’t get me wrong.. it’s a nice place, but $2.950.000? really??

Granted; the views are amazing, and having windows in both the bathroom and kitchen are rare in this city, but still…. $2,950.000???????

Let’s stop and have a closer look. First, let’s get this in metrics; $2,950.000 equals about €2.225.000 and 1486 square feet is about 138 square meters. I am actually wondering if, based on the floor plan, that figure is not a bit of a fib, but let’s say that square footage is a hard fact. Now come join me and find out what that price tag gets you in my home town Amsterdam, shall we?

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-11 om 11.40.38 AM

I give you, the floor plan of just one floor of our soon to be revealed mystery home

I wish I could get a sharper image, but I am confident that you can see that this home (yes home, not apartment) is a tad bit bigger than the NYC listing. It is situated on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals; Leliegracht. It’s listed for exactly €2.225.000 and for that you get 13 rooms spread over a total of 500 square meters (5382 square feet). But the real treat is the garden! The back of the house is double width so the garden is huge with a lot of privacy. It borders the neighbouring gardens so the city seems far, far away.

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The home would not be fully available for use though. The second floor consists of two self-contained studio apartments that are rented out. But this, in turn, gives you a bit of cash each month, lowering the monthly payments. And the current tenant is willing t discuss a move. That’ll cost you a so called ‘oprotpremie’ (severance pay). Mind you, there is still more than enough private space, and the studio’s make use of their own separate entrance. The one downfall really is parking, or rather, the lack there-off. No private parking means you are subjected to the bureaucratic hell that is parking laws in Amsterdam. If you did not leave behind a house in the same area, you might be looking at a waiting list for one spot. But then again, the building fees of the apartment in NYC are a staggering $2668 a MONTH, which is more than enough to rent two parking spots somewhere nearby.

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

The house is old, built in 1900. Which is actually relatively young for its location as most homes on Amsterdam canals are from the 18th, sometimes even 17th Centuries. It’s a monument, which does mean that you are limited in what you can change or do with the home. But anything you do, you can do subsidised! Ahhh, the joy of living in a socialist state 😉

The house actually looks older than it's 114 years.

The house actually looks older than it’s 114 years.

So, I guess it’s safe to assume living in NYC comes with a price. A high price. And here we are, Dutch ‘disgruntleds’, complaining about the price of real estate in our capitol…… I dare not compare the other way around; checking to see what a private residence with garden on Manhattan would cost. I guess it’s more though.


Send your loved ones a green greeting with these very cool postcardens!

Postcarden; garden and postcard in one!

Postcarden is a tiny garden and greeting card all in one! Simply open and pop-up the cards´ 3D scene, add the enclosed cress seeds and a sprinkle of water. In a matter of days the ´garden´ will start to grow, lasting for two to three weeks.

Postcarden; garden and postcard in one!

They sell at numerous online webshops for around $10,–.


House hunting in France!

When we were in France last, which was for our honeymoon, we decided that if we keep doing well in our jobs, we would like to buy a second home in France. Nothing fancy obviously, just a nice hideaway ideally within a 5 or 6 hour drive. Since we have a dog it needs to have a garden. Also, we want to be able to entertain so we need at least one extra bedroom, but preferably two. We don’t need a pool, but if it is close to somewhere to swim I especially would be thrilled to bits.

I start my search looking for homes in the Champagne, Normandy, Ardennes, Somme, Picardy, and Pas de Calais areas. I have always felt that the last area, Pas de Calais, is suffering from the fact that people know it from the boring roads to either the tunnel or the ferry ports. However, the capital, Arras, alone is well worth the visit to this underestimated part of France. The countryside is equally surprising as these pictures show.

Pas de Calais
Pas de Calais

The first site I am giving a try is called Green-acres.com. That sounds like they might understand our needs.

I look for houses anywhere in the Northern departements within a price bracket of 0 to 100.000 euro, minimum of 2 bedrooms and a garden. The site comes back with many houses, a lot of them town houses, horrible flats in Metz or terraced suburban houses. But one house between the first couple of hits strikes me as a charmer.

It’s in Bourbonne les Bains which is about an hour from Nancy.
The property is a huge U shaped building with lots of space of which 190m2 is currently inhabitable. The french standard for inhabitable differs from ours, as the pictures reveal, but still. The roof was recently done up, and it has a huge garden in the back. All this for a small 43.000 euro!

The place needs a bit of cleaning maybe?
The place needs a bit of cleaning maybe?

There must be a catch… But the website doesn’t mention anything apart from the need of renovation. To be fair, that is always more than one anticipates, but we are talking holiday home here. If there’s a kitchen with running water and a stove, a shower and toilet and a roof, I call it home.  Besides, it might be fun to go there for a few weeks and get real sweaty and do bits myself. It looks like a bucket, soap, broom, vacuum cleaner and lots and lots of bin liners will make for a great start.

But let’s see what else is on offer here.

Near the same town, also about 6 hours driving from Amsterdam is this house in the town of Melay. It’s location is not as rural, and the price is a bit higher, but it looks immaculate. It just needs a bit of paint maybe. The garden in the back looks big enough for entertaining and a barbecue.

The doll on the bed will have to go. To 'come play with me' for me!
The doll on the bed will have to go. To ‘come play with me’ for me!

Imagine that fence and those shutters in off white, pale blue or maybe even dark blue or black. Then put some ivy on the fence in the backyard to obstruct the neighbours from watching in. Put up a wrought iron lantern or two and voila, instant Paradise! This house is for sale for 93.000 euro.

Again in the same area (is this a nuclear test site maybe?) a more modern type property for 68.000. It’s all done up and ready to be moved in to but just doesn’t really offer that French charm we are looking for. So let’s explore other, greener acres and leave green-acres.com for now.

The next site is called French-property.com. It immediately lives up to it’s name as it opens with a page full of offers and also a small article about housing prices in Nord Pas de Calais. Apparently the Brits have already discovered the convenient closeness to their home country so prices have gone up, to over the roof in some parts. I decide to look in the entire North of France again. I enter the same search details as before.

The very first hit is a barn that has yet to be converted. Again, this property is located near Bourbonne les Bains. I guess this is where one can still find cheap real estate. In this case it requires extensive restoration and conversion. Mind you, the barn only costs 16.500 euro’s so that should leave plenty of financial room for a great job in those departments. The structure itself looks rather shaky here and there. But it looks solid in most parts. Hopefully filling up the The roof is in obvious need of work, and there is no way to live there yet.  But with patience, love, some cash and determination this barn could be reshaped into a true gem of a holiday home. The orchard that comes with the property make it worth a closer look.

Barn to be restored
Barn to be restored

I will see if I can find any examples of converted French barns to show.

As you can see just a quick scan of the options already made for three wonderful prospect holiday homes. With a bit more knowledge of the different areas, patience and time, one should be able to find a lovely house for well under 100.000 euro within a half day drive of Amsterdam. I wish we could already start looking for ours, but let’s see if we need cash to get that balcony in first.

Gardens! A great site

Childhood home garden

Childhood home garden

If you need advice about plants, flowers, gardens, vegetable growing or anything related to the flora world, heres the place to be. I signed up today and already made friends in Norway, Canada, the US, Singapore etc. These people share one major passion; plants. I love this site. Check here and make sure to look for pictures of the gardens of members. Some are simply amazing!

The picture is one of the garden of my childhood home by the way.