House hunting in Amsterdam: Mission impossible?

Whether you come to this city for a job, an internship, love or you need to leave your current place for some reason – you are basically hitting the same wall, which is called HOUSE HUNTING IN AMSTERDAM. With a general housing shortage and long waiting lists for subsidized housing, it can be quite the challenge to get situated in this city. Everyone who has been in this situation before will instantly raise his eyebrows and give you a pitiful look followed by an instant “Ahhh….I am sure you will find something nice soon” to apply some immediate damage control for you not to go into panic mode due to their freaked out facial expressions…but it’s already too late. You know it. They know it. We all know it. This is not good!

mission impossible - house hunting
Finding a decent place in Amsterdam – Mission impossible?

So now what? After you left your friend about ten beers later you go home and make a pathetic post on Facebook (this is actually not a bad idea and you can get very creative with it e.g. posting a funny pic, a video, a personal story, etc.) before you fall asleep and dream about huge mansions with swimming pools followed by scary flashes of a dry spot under the bridge. Waking up the next morning on a sweaty pillow with a little hangover you’ve come to realize that this is not a dream. You need to go house hunting. You need to find a place in Amsterdam ASAP. Panic mode!

Keep calm - house hunting
Keep calm…really…try to keep calm!

Keep calm and think about your options
Trying to calm yourself down by clumsily imitating a yoga position you saw in a commercial the other day, you decide after two minutes to rather settle for a cup of coffee on the couch. After a hearty breakfast you feel ready to conquer the Dutch real estate market. Let the house hunting begin! Facebook or other social media platforms are always a good way to start. They give you the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible, post about your current status and join various housing groups. Ask your colleagues and friends how they found their place or if they know about anything available at the moment. If you are lucky, you will have someone in your circle who knows someone looking for a roommate or moving abroad renting out his house, etc. Bingo! If not, there are more ways to find a place to stay.

Social, private, anti-kraak…
When it comes to renting in Amsterdam, there is the social and the private sector. However, with a waiting list of about 5 to 10 years, social housing (with a basic rent up to 681.02 EUR) is probably not the best option for most expats or YOU. It is more common for expats to rent an apartment or a room in the private sector. Apart from house hunting through social media, you can sign up and look for places at online housing sites like Kamernet, Funda or Marktplaats. In case you don’t feel comfortable to do all of this by yourself, you can also contact a Makelaar, an estate agent (many of them are also specialized in expat housing), to present you with various options but be prepared to pay a commission (Yep, nothing is for free anymore these days).

Then there is the inexpensive housing option of anti-kraak, where the owner of a building decides to temporarily rent out his/her empty property because it might be at risk from squatters. Sometimes these properties can be quite interesting, unusual and spacious like churches or schools. If you live anti-kraak you have the advantage of paying a relatively low rent, while one of the drawbacks might be the short minimum notice period of 28 days. But hey, if you are flexible and ok with that, go for it. Some organizations offering anti-kraak housing are Ad Hoc BeheerZwerfkei tijdelijk beheerFMT vastgoedbeheer, Vastgoedbeschermer or Stichting Alvast.

When talking about creative living spaces, another housing option has to be mentioned. You’ve guessed it! How about renting a houseboat? After all, you are in Amsterdam, a city known for its many canals and boats. If the thought of living on water makes you happy, then go ahead and do some houseboat hunting. Ahoy!

houseboat - house hunting
A houseboat – not so shabby after all

Last but not least you might be also thinking about buying a place in order to be a proud homeowner. If the thought of a mortgage and a potential long term stay in the same house does not scare you, why not? Go and talk to the mortgage advisor at your bank and find out how to proceed from there.

Successful house hunting: Another reason to celebrate
After reviewing all these different options on house hunting in Amsterdam you definitely feel more calm and positive that you won’t be spending the next couple of weeks/months under a bridge/on a bench in the Vondelpark. After all, moving also means that you can throw another great housewarming party to invite all of your friends. YEAY!

house party - house hunting
What’s better than a good housewarming party?
Alexandra Huetter
Alexandra Huetter
Alexandra Huetter is a native Austrian with a passion for traveling. Having worked in tourism, marketing and sales she finally decided to exchange her 9-to-5 job for the unpredictable yet rewarding world of freelancing. She has been working as a freelance copywriter in Amsterdam since 2011.


  1. Nice summary & advice, just maybe good to add: when going for your own flat-hunt via marktplaats/other forums/websites, ALWAYS check if the property is really owned by the person you’re about to sign a contract with and it’s not a scam. Plus for the Makerlaars, I’ll try not to generalize, but most of the agencies are lame – the agents show up late, they present you completely different properties than you briefed them, etc.

    On the other hand, once you’re here for a while, you find your way around to get a nice place for a reasonable price. Good luck everyone!

  2. Trying the networking aswell, I’d say 50% I know found by networking, someone saw something and let you know when you’d had no chances to see it yourself, friend knowing friends who need someone… Facebook and networking are lately the best way for a single who can not afford 1000 a month. For a working couple it’s easy (very easy) to find through an agency.

  3. […] So you’ve decided to move to the land of milk and windmills. Oranje! By now you’ve probably realized you might have to give up some home essentials such as a car or fancy shoes. The brick laden slippery one way streets are not particularly friendly to either of them. When it comes to moving to a city such as Leiden, the Hague, or Amsterdam, many can get around effortlessly with just a bike. The distances are reasonable and the roads are accommodating. What is not accommodating, however, is actually finding a place to live. […]


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