Expats are shunning the crowded, overpriced capital and heading south to buy property in Rotterdam. We find out why house buyers cannot afford to overlook Rotterdam.
Richardo Cruz Fortes, mortgage advisor at Expat Mortgages, foresaw, like many others, what is happening in the Rotterdam property market today. ‘What I’ve been calling Rotterdam for years now is “the sleeping giant”,’ he tells me.
Rotterdam has everything you’d expect a large city to offer, Richardo explains, but has long played second fiddle to Amsterdam. As the capital’s property market overheats and public and private investment pours into our second city, all eyes are on Rotterdam as the giant now awakes.
Founded in 2007 in Amsterdam, Expat Mortgages has been expanding its offices across the Netherlands as demand for housing outside the capital has risen. The opening of a Rotterdam branch in 2018 is a sign that expat investors and home-seekers are becoming more aware of the huge amount the city has to offer.
Hosting the headquarters of big players such as Robeco, Eneco, Van Oord and Shell Downstream, and Unilever’s Dutch operations, Rotterdam is an established business hub with great job opportunities.
Centres of innovation and excellence, such as the TUDelft and Erasmus University, help support the demands of industry and attract young talent to the area. Tourism is also flourishing. Drawn to the museums, the night life and the iconic modern architecture, visitor numbers increased by 18% between 2017 and 2018.
With an estimated cost of living at 11% lower than Amsterdam, it is unsurprising that expats are now turning to Rotterdam to find a home. ‘I’m an Amsterdam guy myself,’ laughs Richardo, ‘I lived there my whole life, but you need to step out of the bubble … to see the potential of living in another city with all the same facilities that Amsterdam has.’
His clients at Expat Mortgages receive comprehensive guidance through the process of buying a house in the Netherlands, including an assessment of their eligibility for a mortgage, both for buy-to-let and for personal use.
Since Rotterdam properties cost on average just €2-4,000 per square meter – cheaper than The Hague and Utrecht, and around half what you can expect to pay in Amsterdam – expat customers seeking more space close to Rotterdam city centre or in striking distance from The Hague are getting much more for their money. Even Amsterdam is just a 40-minute commute by train.
‘More and more people are considering Rotterdam as a better opportunity for a family to live,’ says Richardo. Highly-educated clients with a good salary and decent savings are still finding themselves priced out of the capital, he explains. An influx of expat families is anticipated in Rotterdam and the municipality is currently discussing plans for more international schools.
The supply of housing is also good in Rotterdam, meaning more choice and less competition when bidding on a house. ‘There’s a lot available.’ says Wil Jansen of Rotterdam-based estate agency @WORK Makerlaardij. ‘There are houses, there are apartments, there are skyscrapers – everything is there and it’s on the market.’
Just east of the centre, and popular with expats, is the upscale neighbourhood of Kralingen with its smart villas, leafy streets and boating lake. In Noord, the up-and-coming Blijdorp district, best known for its zoo, is quieter and more affordable than the Stadsdriehoek (city centre). Further out, Hillegersberg is surrounded by lakes and green spaces and offers accommodation to suit all budgets.
Katendrecht, on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas river, was once famous for its brothels, but redevelopment has transformed it into a popular spot for culture and dining. But the smart money is heading even further south, where a new stadium, music hall and conference centre are indicative of a huge investment in an area which is gentrifying fast.
House prices in Rotterdam increased by 27% in the last two years and continue to rise. The giant has woken, and now expats begin to do so too. Prospective buyers may need to act fast.
To find out more about the services offered by Expat Mortgages, contact the team here.
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