Finding Housing in the Netherlands

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Expat Warning: How Holland Works strongly advises AGAINST using the property sections of sites like IAMEXPAT.NL, who knowingly continue to display listings from agents they are aware charge tenants illegal costs. Stay safe and only use reputable property sites.

Finding somewhere to live in the more built up areas of the Netherlands is hard. Accommodation is scarce and competition is stiff. In this article I’m assuming you’re new to the Netherlands and so your best bet is to rent whilst you acclimatise (buying will be cover in another article later). As a newbie to The Netherlands, you face a problem. No address means no local bank account, and no local bank account makes it harder to convince somebody to rent to you. Welcome to the Catch-22 where there’s one golden rule though – you need to make sure that whatever property you’re renting allows you to register as resident. Sometimes people attempt to sublet social housing – this is not legal and you will then not be able to register (meaning you won’t get a BSN number and will be in a difficult position. No BSN number means no bank account and no work!). If it looks too good to be true, it probably is! Always ask if it’s registrable. Beyond that the normal rules apply – make sure you’ve seen the property before you commit, deal by preference with reputable agents or contacts.

You’ll be renting one of four types of property:

  1. A room
  2. An “Ongemeubeleerd” property – also called “kaal”. This has no furnishings, soft furnishings, flooring, and sometimes fittings. It is sometimes possible to make a deal with the previous tenants to buy these from them.
  3. Gestoffeerd – which is basically semi furnished. With this you can expect flooring and some other things – e.g. curtains. But it varies!
  4. Gemeubileerd – furnished and ready to be lived in. These sometimes also come with utilities (gas, electric) included in the rent, but mostly not.

Many people use sites like marktplaats (the Dutch version of Craigslist) and kamernet for finding rooms. Most people say that these are difficult to find and tend to go to Dutch nationals by preference.

For renting an apartment or a house, you have two options. You can search yourself or you can ask a makelaar (real estate agent) to help you search. In the latter case the makelaar can charge you a fee if they end up finding you a property that is not on their books (often the equivalent of one month’s rent, but you should agree this first).

When looking for a property yourself, you’ll want to consult . A large proportion of properties for rent are on this one site. Unfortunately, it’s in Dutch – but nothing you can’t handle by a bit of usage of Google translate. But to help out – here’s a quick guide to a typical usage:

  1. Choose the “Huur” (rental) option in the orange box at the top.
  2. Type in a location in the “Plaats, buurt, adres, etc” box. e.g. type Scheveningen and it will give a list of places that match the query and you can click the right one
  3. Select search radius in kilometers
  4. Choose a start price (van) and maximum price (tot)
  5. Click “Zoek” (search) and get a list of properties

In my experience you should do this regularly, the properties are listed by agents that aren’t very efficient/good at taking them off when they’ve gone. So lots of these properties aren’t really available. As a rule of thumb, if an agent goes quiet or you haven’t heard back in a day then it’s gone. It’s best to be on top of new ones when they’re first available.

Once you’ve found your ideal property you can make an offer. Requirements will vary but most will want proof of income (e.g. job contract) and a deposit (which is normally one month’s rent).

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