One of the biggest challenges of relocating to our country, is finding proper housing in the Netherlands. With a working experience at Settle Service of 12 years, I know that especially finding a suitable and affordable house can be tricky. I have been responsible for the selection of good real estate agents in the past years to cooperate with. The answers to the questions ‘what is suitable’ and ‘what is affordable’ depend on a number of related things.
- Region: 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? (if applicable). 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. Location, location, location. It seems to be a universal thing. So, sometimes it is worth to extend the commute in order to save on (rental) payments.
- Budget: It’s all about the money… true. Your monthly (rental) budget 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 rental apartment in Amsterdam city centre will probably cost you around € 1600,00 (exclusive of utilities) per month. The monthly rent for a similar apartment in Maastricht city centre will be around € 1000,00 (ex utilities). However, it’s not always the case that a higher budget offers you more to choose from. For example, the situation on the rental market in Amsterdam is currently very tight. This means that there may only be a few houses that probably meet your requirements and are within the set budget. An increase of budget does not automatically mean an increase of supply. But of course it does influence on location and quality of property.
- Expectations: What do you expect from your housing situation? Each person will answer this question differently, based on their personal situation. But often even cultural background weighs in. Housing in the Netherlands might differ from what you are used to. What we see is that people who come over from the United States (except New York and other major cities) often expect more than a Dutch house can offer. The rooms are not very big, stairs are steep, and often there is only one bathroom. When moving from India or China, Dutch houses may seem rather special and offer more than they would have expected. However, a ground floor is often considered unsafe. While we Dutchies prefer to have a ground floor, so we have a garden to enjoy.
A typical Dutch (row)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. Again, the desire for a garden plays a role. Typical characteristic of the row house is that neighbours share a roof and that the houses are alongside of each other. Most of the times, there are 3 or 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. However, the ground floor often holds a seperate toilet as well. 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’.
In the Western part of the country, the more well-to-do families live in freestanding houses that often have 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, one only faces 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! But of course our Settle Service team can assist with both housing options. We have many years of experience and have good contact with many estate agents in the Netherlands
Contact us if you wish to receive more information on housing in the Netherlands.