5 things to know about the Dutch student housing crisis

We hear about it all year round because the student housing crisis in the Netherlands is quite literally a crisis. Here’s how it’s impacting students coming to the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, being one of the most densely populated countries and all, already struggles to house its permanent population. Add to that, thousands of students coming to the Netherlands to study temporarily, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

READ MORE | Student housing in the Netherlands: your guide to finding a room in 2023

1. Giant tents are housing homeless students

In 2021, the housing shortage was so bad in Groningen that tents were erected with rows of beds for students to sleep in until they found somewhere more permanent.

Groningen is far from the only city that has had to resort to tents, but what’s put this specific case in the spotlight is that they charged โ‚ฌ12,50 per night (ouch!).

Photo-of-homeless-student-in-the-Netherlands-due-to-housing-crisis
The housing crisis in the Netherlands is leaving many students desperate and homeless. Image: Unsplash

The price was later reduced to โ‚ฌ6 per night โ€” but that’s still almost โ‚ฌ200 per month for the privilege of sleeping in a large tent, uncomfortably close to the next bed. Definitely not an ideal situation…

Of course, it’s better than nothing at all, but it stands as a threatening example of how bad the situation can be.

2. Students are being offered rooms for sex

Some people turned into total creeps when they became aware that students were at risk of being homeless.๐Ÿ˜ณ Specifically, stories have spread about people offering students spare rooms in exchange not for money, no, but sex.

Not only is such behaviour creepy and disgusting, but it’s also a crime. Exploiting people for sexual favours in exchange for shelter is appalling, and just another scary face of the Dutch housing crisis.

Thankfully, not everybody is like this โ€” but if you do come across it, make sure to report it to the police as soon as possible!

3. Scammers are leaving students out of pocket โ€” and still homeless

Again, when some people are aware that students are vulnerable to homelessness, they turn into total scammers.

As we all know, scamming is certainly not a new thing in the housing market, but they come out in full force when the market is tight.

Foreign-student-who-has-just-been-scammed-while-looking-for-a-room-in-the-Netherlands
Foreign students are often subject to scammers when looking for a room online. Image: Pexels

International students searching for a room from abroad are also more at risk as they’re unable to view the room in person. The news is full of stories of people paying large deposits, and arriving in the Netherlands only to find out that the apartment doesn’t even exist.

READ MORE | Housing & rental scams in the Netherlands: ultimate red flag guide

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

It’s a massive struggle for many international students to find accommodation, and it’s not making it any easier that rooms often have labels such as “no internationals” and “Dutch-speaking only”.

As a result, many international students find themselves homeless, for no good reason.

READ MORE | Dutch universities warn internationals not to come if they canโ€™t find a room

On top of that, name discrimination is a massive issue too. Even if some rentals aren’t outright saying it, they could still be rejecting foreigners disproportionately. So, many international students might find themselves applying for over 100 rooms, with no luck.

5. Staff are housing students in their own homes

The issue of homeless students is so great, that the University of Groningen even asked staff to house students in their spare rooms.

A-homeless-international-student-in-the-Netherlands-sleeping-on-his-professor's-couch
Couch surfing has become all too common while students look for a room in the Netherlands… Image: Depositphotos

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.

Quite a few members of staff have agreed to allow a student to stay in their home โ€” but this temporary solution only makes a small dent in the mounting number of homeless students.


Of course, many students have also found housing, yet this requires searching very early and intensively โ€” 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!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in August 2018, and was fully updated in August 2023, for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
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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