With a working experience at Settle Service of 12 years, I know that one of the most important issues in a relocation is finding a suitable and affordable house. In fact, I have been responsible for the selection of good real estate agents in the past years. The answers to the questions ‘what is suitable’ and ‘what is affordable’ depend on a number of related things.
Where will you work and how much time to you want to spend travelling to and from your work? And/or to and from your children’s school? Although the Netherlands is only a small country, prices differ immensely per region. A freestanding house in the province of Groningen may cost half compared to an apartment in Amsterdam.
The answers to the questions ‘what is suitable’ and ‘what is affordable’ depend on a number of related things.
It’s all about the money… true. Your budget month’s rent will determine which neighbourhoods will suit best. And given the fact that more and more people come to the Netherlands on a local contract, in many cases you will have to compete with local home finders.
Just to give an idea; a legal and furnished two bedroom apartment in Amsterdam city centre will probably cost you around € 1500,00 (exclusive of utilities) per month. The monthly rent for a similar apartment in Maastricht city centre will be around € 1000,00 (ex utilities).
It’s all about the money… true.
It is not always the case that a higher budget will bring you more offer. Just an example; the situation on the rental market in Amsterdam is very tight at the moment, meaning that there may only be a few houses that meet your demands and are within budget.
What do you expect from your housing situation? This is a question that will be answered differently by nationality and of course personality. What we see is that people who come from the United States (excepted New York and some other major cities) often expect more than a Dutch house can offer. The rooms are not very big, the stairs are steep, there is often only one bathroom. For people moving from India or China, Dutch houses may seem rather special and offer more than they would have expected.
A typical Dutch house
Dutch local students typically live with their parents or in shared houses. As the prices in the bigger cities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague) are relatively high, they may stay in this situation even when they have started working.
The next step will mostly be an apartment or a smaller (row) house. Row houses are very popular in the Netherlands, 4 of the 7 million houses are from this type. Typical characteristic of the row house is that neighbours share a roof and that the houses are places alongside of each other. Most of the times there are 3 or 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom in a row house. The seize of the garden varies per region and neighbourhood. It may be ‘as small as a stamp’ (Dutch expression for a tiny garden), or ‘as big as a soccer field’ (approximately 1 hectace).
In the Western part of the country, the more well-to-do live in freestanding houses that may be surrounded by fantastic gardens.
Renting or buying?
We always advice our client to first rent a house. At least for a year. This period will allow them to see if the Netherlands is really their place to be. Buying a house would mean a more definite move. When renting a house, the costs for this will be limited to the costs for the real estate agent -sometimes only an administrative fee- and the furnishing costs, if any. Buying a house would in almost all cases mean extra costs, an average of 4,5%, on top of the agreed buying price, plus the furnishing costs. You have to be quite convinced to take the risk!