Looking to move to the Netherlands and overwhelmed by the rental prices? That’s normal. However, there are ways to seal the deal on a rental property that isn’t going to cripple you financially. 

Before we begin, there are two important things to know before renting in the Netherlands. Number one, finding a property to rent full-stop is difficult — the market moves swiftly and there’s a lot of competition. Number two, renting in the Netherlands is no cheap ride — so budget well. You may be wondering then, what is the “cheap” in this article headline all about? Allow me to explain.

Cheap housing in the Netherlands: Does it exist?

In answer to the main question, “cheap” housing rarely exists anywhere anymore, however, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you can afford the rent in the first place. So if you’re on a tight budget and you’re not sure where to look for next, this is the article for you.

Here are five top tips to get you started on finding cheap housing in the Netherlands — cheap-ish anyway:

1Avoid an unfurnished place

Photo-of-second-hand-shop-furniture
Try buy second-hand! Image: Nathan Shurr/Unsplash

Apartments that aren’t fully furnished are usually cheaper than furnished rental properties, however, sometimes it can just pay off getting a fully furnished one so check your budget and do your research.

One important thing to remember is that unfurnished means unfurnished. I’m talking about flooring, light fittings, all basic furniture, some parts of the kitchen. So whatever you do (unless you have spare flooring etc going), do not go for an unfurnished property if you’re looking to save money. It likely won’t end up cheaper at all, unless you have some of your own furniture already.

Sometimes you can buy furniture off the previous tenant — it’s a win-win for both of you. You can negotiate for a price that would probably be cheaper if you were to source furniture on your own — and they can avoid the painful process of trying to deconstruct and sell on furniture. This method usually works out well if you’re on a tight budget but also want somewhere gezellig to call home.

If you are looking at semi-furnished rental properties, it pays to look around and see what’s nearby. Semi-furnished properties come with flooring, light fittings and sometimes even a piece of furniture or two, but it’s usually empty.

I lived around the corner from a kringloopwinkel and it pretty much fully furnished my place for under 200 euros. It was a steal and so much cheaper overall. As time went on and we had more funds, we slowly replaced the items for better ones.

2Stay out of the city centre

Sure living in the city centre is easier, but that’s why it will be a premium price. Do you really need to be in the very centre? That’s one of the questions that you should ask yourself. You may find that a rental property only 15 minutes away on the tram is half the price, with only a small and easy journey attached. You can even get deals on the train to save yourself some money on the commute!

You may also find that if you are out of the city centre on the outskirts, you are actually more likely to be near a supermarket and have easier access to free parking.

Parking is notoriously expensive in the Netherlands (along with cars in general), so if you really need that car for whatever reason, you need to weigh up whether a rental property is worth the parking permit cost. Some taxes (even dog tax!) are more expensive depending on where you are, so take that into consideration too.

3Stick to a smaller property

photo of narrow house amsterdam
No space for a beer pong table here. Image: Brin Andrews/supplied

Do you really need that spare room? More than likely not. The more bedrooms the place has, the more the rent will be. If you’re not likely to have that many guests, then downsizing that property is definitely going to reduce that rent. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of space, but as long as you aren’t living in a cupboard under the stairs, or perhaps the narrowest house in Amsterdam, it may be worth the sacrifice.

As long as your house/flat is a good size, it’s normal to only have one bedroom if you’re single or even in a relationship. Again, it’s all about taking into consideration how long you’re going to live there and whether you’re going to be bringing babies or friends into the equation. And no, having more space to party is not warranted if you’re on a tight budget, as tempting as that may be.

4House share

House sharing is a great way to save a lot of money on rent. It gives you some company and for many people, your flatmates end up becoming your great friends. Of course, you could also end up with the roommate from hell (it’s a good job we have an article to find your perfect one then eh).

It’s certainly a gamble, but it is much cheaper overall and you’ll still have your own space. When you look into house sharing, it’s worth finding out about the tenants. Usually, they say if they’re professionals or students, so you can work out if the house is for you.

The idea of sharing a house filled me with dread, but I’ve done it a few times and so far so good. It’s no secret that it’s miles cheaper than renting your own place and it’s a lot less lonely too.

5Live outside of the Randstad if you can

Groningen has a lively atmosphere. Image: Laura Corrigan/Supplied

The Randstad includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht (the four largest cities) and the surrounding areas. These are some of the most expensive places to live. In fact, Holland is the most expensive province in which to live. If you can find work outside of Holland, head to the east or up north. Although rental prices are still on the rise, on the whole, they’re cheaper.

By far the most expensive place is Amsterdam, with house and rental prices soaring faster than any other city. Being the capital and all, it’s to be expected, but it’s still crazy. Groningen and Eindhoven (outside of Holland) are popular, large cities and you will get much more for your money there than you would in somewhere like Amsterdam.

We all know that finding somewhere cheap to live is a huge task, but if you prepare well in advance, keep your options open and budget generously, you’ll get there eventually. Make sure to check out huurtoeslag/rent allowance too. Good luck!

Do you have any other tips on finding cheap housing in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments.

Feature Image: Djedj/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2019, and was fully updated in September 2020 for your reading pleasure. 

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