Housing in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is not the easiest place to find a place to live, particularly if you have a limited budget. Around half the country’s housing stock is rental properties, but much of that is restricted to low income households, making it highly sought after, particularly in Amsterdam. Your main housing options are as follows:
Rent controlled housing (sociale huurwoning)
You are not eligible for a rent-controlled property if your household income is more than around € 36,000 per year. There are very long waiting lists for rent-controlled places in many areas, particularly in the cities. In Amsterdam, for example, the waiting list is around 14 years.
The rent-controlled or social housing sector covers housing up to € 720 a month and much rent-controlled property is owned by housing corporations.
Amsterdam and The Hague are also making moves to take greater control of rental housing costing between €720 and €1,000 a month, which is known as mid-market property. This too is in short supply in both cities.
In Amsterdam you need to reckon on at least €1,500 per month for a small flat.
Be aware of scams. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are not allowed to register as living at the address, there is also likely to be something dodgy going on.
Non-rent controlled housing (vrije sector)
The non-rent controlled sector encompasses all rental property costing more than €720 a month and is owned by both housing corporations and private landlords. They can basically charge what they like, although Amsterdam and The Hague city councils are trying to increase their grip on properties costing up to €1,000 a month.
In Amsterdam, it is practically impossible to find a non rent-controlled property for less than €1,500 a month (excluding service costs and other charges), certainly in the city centre. If you are offered somewhere cheaper it is probably too good to be true.
For more information about your rights as tenant and about using housing agencies to find somewhere to live, visit www.wswonen.nl/english
Flat sharing is completely normal in most other countries but is only starting to take off in the Netherlands and is still complicated legally.
Some landlords do allow it, but usually only if the lease is in one name. This means technically that if the person who signed the lease leaves, you may have to as well.
In Amsterdam, Amstelveen and other places, sharing a home with more than two adults who are not related is illegal and you will have to apply for a licence to do so.
Some housing corporations have introduced a ‘friends’ lease agreement which allows multiple people to sign for a property.
Finding a flat share is usually done through word of mouth or social media and is often informal, so don’t expect a contract. Do expect to pay upwards of €500 for a flat share.
Unlike in many countries, most Dutch students don’t live on campuses but in shared flats, fraternity houses and in housing designated for students. In particular Amsterdam and Utrecht have a serious shortage of student accommodation.
Expect to pay at least €400 a month and up to €750 if you opt for a student hostel or hotel.
If you are in the Netherlands on an exchange programme or for a short period, your university or college may be able to help you find somewhere to live.
The Study in Holland website has a list of tips and rental agencies who help students.
Buying a property
If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for at least a couple of years, it may be worth buying a property. The generous tax breaks on the interest you pay over your mortgage make it financially very appealing.
You will need to have a job and some savings. Find out more from our partners at Expat Mortgages, who specialise in advising internationals on buying a home.