5 things to know about the student housing crisis in the Netherlands

The student housing crisis in the Netherlands

We hear of this every year. In fact, we hear about this all year round, but this year we all really have been discussing it, because once again, the student housing crisis in the Netherlands, is quite literally a crisis — and that’s not even a good enough word for it. So, what’s the issue?

Well, the Netherlands, being one of the most densely populated countries and all, already struggles to house the permanent population that it has. Add to that thousands of students coming to the Netherlands to temporarily study, and it’s a recipe for disaster. The University of Groningen, in particular, has been in the spotlight for its chronic housing shortage.

Photo-of-homeless-student
The housing crisis in the Netherlands is leaving many students homeless. Image: Resi Kling/Unsplash

1. Giant tents are housing homeless students

The housing shortage has got so bad in Groningen that tents have been erected with rows of beds for students to sleep in until they find somewhere more permanent. What’s making people even angrier, is that they had been charging €12,50 per night.

The price has now been reduced to €6 per night — but that’s still almost €200 per month for the privilege of sleeping in a large tent, so close to the next bed that you could probably touch them. Definitely not an ideal situation AT ALL.

Of course, it’s better than nothing at all. But it just goes to show how bad the situation has got.

2. Students are being offered rooms for sex

When some people become aware that students are vulnerable to being homeless, they turn into total creeps. 😳 Some people have offered for students to sleep in their spare rooms in exchange not for money, no, but sex.

Not only is this creepy and disgusting, it’s literally criminal. Exploiting (usually) female girls into sexual favours in exchange for shelter is appalling and this is what happens when a housing crisis emerges.

Thankfully not everybody is like this of course — but if you do come across it, please report it as soon as possible.

3. Scamming is leaving students out of pocket — and still homeless

Again, when some people are aware that students are vulnerable to remaining homeless, they turn into total scammers this time. As we all know, scamming is certainly not a new thing in the housing market, but the scammers come out in full force when a crisis like this breaks out.

International students are also more at risk as when they are sorting their accommodation abroad, they are unable to view the room in person. This leaves them vulnerable to being scammed. The news is full of stories of people paying large deposits, arriving in the Netherlands and finding that the rental doesn’t even exist — awful.

Foreign-student-whohas-just-been-scammed-while-looking-for-a-room-in-the-Netherlands
A foreign student who has just been scammed online looking for a room in the Netherlands.Image: Andrea Piaquadio/Pexels

4. Foreign students are met with ‘Dutch only’ rentals

It’s a massive struggle for many international students to find accommodation, as the majority of the rooms advertised on Facebook and other platforms have various labels such as “no internationals” and “Dutch-speaking only”. As a result, many international students find themselves homeless because as rentals become available, chances are that they won’t accept them because they aren’t Dutch.

We’ve already discussed name discrimination in the past too, so even if some rentals aren’t outright saying it, they could still be basing it off that. There have been reports of many international students, applying for over 100 rooms and still having no luck.

5. Staff are having to house students in their own homes

The issue of homeless students is so great, that the University of Groningen has even asked staff to house students in their spare rooms if they have space. Imagine sharing a house with your lecturer because you got scammed and ended up landing in the Netherlands completely homeless? The whole situation is literally just mad.

So far, quite a few members of staff have agreed to allow a student to stay in their home — but this is temporary and only makes a small dent in the mounting numbers of homeless students.

An-homeless-international-student-in-the-Netherlands-sleeping-on-his-professor's-couch
A homeless international student sleeping on his professor’s couch. Image: SarkisSeysian /Depositphotos

Of course, many students have also found housing, yet this requires searching very early and intensively — and being aware of the realities of the crisis.

Regardless, Dutch universities are under fire for encouraging so many foreign students to come to the Netherlands, knowing full well that no matter what, many of these students will never find a home.

What are your thoughts on the student housing crisis in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Samwordley@gmail.com/Depositphotos

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in August 2018, and was fully updated in September 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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