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Rotterdam rules: why the Netherlands’ second city is a top place to buy

City of Rotterdam downtown skyline at dusk in South Holland, Netherlands, Erasmus Bridge on the left.
City of Rotterdam downtown skyline at dusk  Photo: Depositphotos

Rotterdam has a sleeves-rolled-up reputation. So it’s no wonder the city has been hard at work building a perfect opportunity for house buyers, says mortgage broker Expat Mortgages.

The question used to be ‘why live in Rotterdam?’ Now, some people believe the question is: ‘Why not?’

A port city with just over 650,000 people of 170 different nationalities, Rotterdam is leading the way in building houses the nation desperately needs. Last year, the Zuid-Holland region constructed 13,300 new homes and, although prices have risen dramatically, agents believe that these new neighbourhoods still offer huge potential.

‘Rotterdam has everything a big city should offer,’ says Richardo Cruz Fortes, team lead on Rotterdam for Expat Mortgages. ‘It has great public transport, a growing airport which is an epiphany in how easy it can be in getting from A to B, and it’s a very international city with lots to explore.

‘It’s also growing, with new build areas attracting a lot of young professionals like the Delfshaven and Rotterdam South. Feyenoord football club might have cancelled building its new stadium, but the plan was to build lots of properties and even though Feyenoord has pulled the plug, the city is making new living space on the riverside anyway.’

The harbour at Delfshaven Photo: Depositphotos


In Rotterdam South, there are plans to build around 5,500 new homes as part of a 20-year project to stimulate the area. Rotterdam council has developed a site outlining all of its innovative build plans, including for more green space, cultural institutions, restaurants and businesses – plus, of course, the innovative architecture that characterises this city, rebuilt after extensive World War II bombing. Some of the latest communities might be developing their ‘soul’ still, but that could be seen as an opportunity for buyers to be part of the process, says Cruz Fortes.

Another advantage is Rotterdam’s appealing prices, and these are attracting a lot of interest. According to the latest analysis from NVM estate agents’ organisation, Rotterdam had a higher than average growth in year-on-year prices in the first quarter of 2022. (In Amsterdam and the Hague, however, there were signs of a slightly cooling market.)

The CBS reports that Rotterdam prices were up 19% on the same period last year at the start of 2022. Compared to average prices in 2015, the Rotterdam region has more than doubled. But, still, the average asking price is around €400,000 and a typical price per square metre is currently from €4,300 to €6,000 – which seems like a bargain compared to €8,000 plus per square metre in Amsterdam.

Famous cube houses by architect Piet Blom Photo: Depositphotos


Like the rest of the Netherlands, supply is a problem but Cruz Fortes said that rising interest rates and the war on Ukraine are creating uncertainty that is putting off Dutch buyers. ‘There used to be more than 10 bids for each house, but now it’s five to 10,’ he says. ‘We are seeing a shift, the more the Dutch are refraining from buying. But our international clients are still interested.’

If you’re after a chic and established neighbourhood, look to Hillegersberg, which used to be a village and has appealing detached and terraced homes, some on the waters of the Bergse Achterplas recreational lake. Kralingen East and West also have an upmarket vibe, with spacious houses and chic apartments, while the city centre attracts many young professionals.

If panoramic views are your thing, then look at the Kop van Zuid, near Erasmusbrug bridge over Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Maas. Luxury, modern apartments offer views of city and water at a fraction of the price of other international cities.


Beware, though, if you are aiming to buy to let. Like Amsterdam, Rotterdam is introducing limits to prevent landlords from buying up the cheaper housing stock. If the property you want has an official city estimate – known as a WOZ value – of up to €355,000, you must first live in it personally or rent to a close relative.

The Eurovision Song Contest showed off Rotterdam to an international audience, and even though its dazzle was muted by coronavirus restrictions, it still raised the city’s profile. It was just part of an annual calendar of events: the Marathon Rotterdam in April, the Kralingse Bos festival in the local wood, the May art fair, the colourful, multicultural summer carnival in July, as well as year-round entertainment in hip nightclubs and world restaurants.

And if you miss the other major cities of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht are less than an hour on the train. So, what are you waiting for? ‘There’s a no-nonsense mentality in Rotterdam,’ says Cruz Fortes. ‘They say: niet lullen, maar poetsen. Less talk, more action.’

For advice on how much you can borrow, contact Expat Mortgages

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