Looking for student housing in the Netherlands? Did getting into your university course seem like a walk in the park? Don’t assume that everything else is going to be plain sailing. Finding a house as a student, for some, is anybody’s worst nightmare.
Before we begin, it’s important to know that the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. With this, comes a lot of people looking for housing, and failing. It’s no secret that this is a massive issue and for some students, this means deferring their studies because of the lack of housing.
My Dutch friend who works at Delft University in the international office was only telling me yesterday that he was worried as so many of his students can’t find housing for the new term coming up. It’s got to the point now he now has to tell his remaining international students that they are going to have to defer for another year. And yes, student housing in the Netherlands is really that bad!
Of course, for some, it is a happy ending and with this nifty guide, you’ll be well on your way to trying to secure a new student home for you!
1Know what you want
Plan, plan, plan! This is important, as it makes the search for your perfect student room a whole lot easier. You need to ask yourself questions such as: How many people am I willing to share a house with? Do I want to share a house full stop? What is my budget? Do I mind have a shared bathroom, or do I only want private? Are all my bills included? Is the house close to the university and if not, is it easily accessible via public transport? Do you know if the area is safe? Is the student house by a supermarket? Do I want to share with only boys/girls or mixed? Do you want a short term or long term contract? I could go on and on…
Note: When looking remember that unfurnished literally means unfurnished! This means that light fixtures and flooring may not be present. Semi-furnished includes the light fixtures, flooring, curtains and some basic appliances and furnished means that it has everything you may need.
Once you’ve got your head around that, then you need to get your search on ASAP. I would recommend looking for student housing in the Netherlands, at least three months in advance. Unfortunately, your home isn’t going to magically appear out of thin air. Now we go to the next point, which may seem contradicting, but it’s an absolute must when student house searching!
2Don’t have high expectations
I’m sure as a student you will know that student housing in the Netherlands isn’t exactly fit for Queen, but it’s important that you don’t hold high expectations. Of course, some landlords get away with students living in a literal hell, which is completely unacceptable (please report them!), but you still need to remain realistic.
Dutch houses are in general, pretty small. Divide one of these houses up by however many students the landlord wants to cram into the place and yeah you got it – box room! Prepare for your space to be limited, yet as long as it’s not drenched in mould and invested in bugs, then you should go for it, as your choices are going to be incredibly limited. Of course, if it is going to result in you wanting to escape your room every 5 seconds because you hate it that much, then of course, just go with your gut.
I actually had a box room at university (the picture is a panoramic shot so makes it look MUCH bigger than it was) – but I decorated it to s**t and made it homely and cosy. So anything is possible!
3Look online to find a place
Of course, you don’t have to exclusively look online, but that’s what we do these days and it’s quick and easy. There are plenty of ways to find student housing in the Netherlands and the internet is your friend! Some of these include: Facebook groups, through your university, studentenwoningweb and kamernet. (There are plenty more, but these are generally the most popular – a quick Google search will bring up more!) But you still need to be wary of scammers, no matter how you find your house. Now let’s go through the pros and cons of each one, so you’re prepared.
Pros: So many to go around that you won’t have any problems finding a suitable one ( hey, even DutchReview has one 😉 ). You can also connect directly to whoever is advertising the housing vacancy or they can contact you. It’s easy to do and as most of us are on Facebook all the time anyway, it makes it even easier. Cons: You’re rarely in touch with a landlord, so you then have to scout out and ask the landlord. You can be scammed easily via Facebook through fake accounts.
Through your university
Pros: It’s the safest method if the accommodation is provided by the university itself, then you’re free from scammers (just make sure it’s actually from the university site). You know who to contact and you can usually keep in contact fairly easily. Cons: This can sometimes be the more expensive option. It’s usually only for first-years and almost impossible to get.
Pros: It’s purely for student accommodation to it’s perfect for a house search. You can create a personal profile, so it makes things faster. Cons: You have to pay money to register – it’s not that much of course, but it’s still monies. You’re still not completely free from scams.
Pros: It’s free and easy to use! It’s also easy to plan viewings and contact people. Cons: You have to pay to go premium if you want to apply to many viewings. There is quite a high scam rate.
This leads us nicely on to the next point…
4Avoid getting scammed (if you can)
We at DutchReview have mentioned this before when writing a guide to finding housing in the Netherlands in the past. Especially with my experience of nearly being scammed, you have to know what to look out for. Here are some top tips to avoid it:
If they can’t meet you, they probably aren’t real
No, seriously. Of course, some landlords do rent away from home (I never met my landlord beforehand, as he lived in Ireland and he’s legitimate), but if he can’t provide any sort of meeting AT ALL, then it’s fishy. For instance, I went through his agency, they showed me around the apartment, they had the keys, they had ID, they had proof. If this landlord is providing nothing for you to see beforehand and offers empty promises, then avoid them like the plague.
Do not sign your contract until you’ve seen the property (AND READ IT TOO)
I’m sorry, but pictures just won’t cut it in this situation. You need to see the property in the flesh and not just the outside, but the inside too. Like I said earlier, make sure they have the keys and show you around. Only once you’ve done that, you should sign the contract, NEVER before!
Never secure the house with a deposit – a deposit is not for that!
I’ve come across this a fair few times and this is not what a deposit is meant for. They are more likely to scam you if you do this, or claim that the deposit never arrived in their bank account. When paying for an actual deposit it should never amount to more than 1 months rent and if they ask for it in cash, decline and make sure it’s transferred from bank to bank (not sites like money transfer or PayPal).
All in all, if things look far too perfect (did someone say a penthouse suite at a cheap price?!), then it’s probably a con. I nearly got conned on Airbnb, so never again (I reported it and he was removed)!
5Budget, budget, budget!
Now you’re a student you need to weigh up price vs convenience and even then you should probably go for the price (all that booze isn’t going to pay for itself). 😉 Your student housing in the Netherlands might not be fully furnished and even if it was, it may need a few fairy lights to make it homely. We have a guide to furnishing your house cheaply, and I tell you now – stick to Action and Kringloops, they have been a godsend.
Many student housing in the Netherlands also requires you to sort the utilities yourself. Once again DutchReview comes to the rescue with a guide to sorting your utilities. The one I always worry about the most is the internet, yet finding a good deal needn’t be hard. Once you’re on those comparison sites, it’s so easy to sort your utilities and it means you won’t have to make any awkward phone calls. This is also a great way to save you some money.
Saving money wherever you can (within reason) is key – you don’t want to end up with no money.
So, there you have it, some important things to know when finding a student room in the Netherlands. Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments.
Good luck with your new student house in the Netherlands…..oh and P.S. Our other guides will help you with things such as: Sorting your permit, registration in the Netherlands (once you’ve found your humble abode), sending your money to the Netherlands, setting up a Dutch bank account, getting your DigiD, rent allowance, having a car in the Netherlands (hey, you could be a very equipped student, but P.S. a car isn’t needed), what the wages should be if you land yourself a job. You can buy me a drink later to say thanks. 😉
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 9 August 2019, but was updated for your reading pleasure on 4 February 2020.
Feature Image: Andrew Neel/Pexels