Housing in the Netherlands: What Expats Should Know
If you are planning to move to the Netherlands, one of the most important things you need to arrange is your accommodation. Housing in the Netherlands can be challenging for expats, as the market is competitive, prices are high, and regulations are complex. However, with some research and preparation, you can find a suitable place to live in this beautiful and diverse country.
In this article, we will give you an overview of the housing market in the Netherlands, the types of properties available, the pros and cons of renting or buying, and some tips and advice on how to find your dream home.
The housing market in the Netherlands
The housing market in the Netherlands is divided into two sectors: social housing and private housing. Social housing is subsidized by the government and is intended for low-income households. Private housing is not regulated by the government and is subject to market forces.
Social housing accounts for about 75% of the rental market in the Netherlands¹. However, it is not accessible for most expats, as there are strict eligibility criteria and long waiting lists. To apply for social housing, you need to have a low income (below €40,024 per year in 2023), a valid residence permit, and a registration number from your municipality. You also need to register with a local housing association and pay a fee. Depending on the location and demand, you may have to wait for months or even years before you get an offer.
Private housing is more suitable for expats, as it offers more choice, flexibility, and availability. However, it also comes with higher prices, lower quality, and less security. Private housing can be rented directly from landlords or through intermediaries such as real estate agents or online platforms. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Netherlands is €1,500 per month, but it can vary significantly depending on the location, size, and condition of the property². In major cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, rents can be much higher than in smaller towns or rural areas.
Types of properties in the Netherlands
The most common types of properties in the Netherlands are apartments (flats), houses (terraced or detached), and studios (single-room units). Apartments are usually found in urban areas and can range from modern high-rise buildings to historic canal houses. Houses are more common in suburban or rural areas and can offer more space and privacy. Studios are ideal for single occupants or students who want to save money and live independently.
The size of properties in the Netherlands is measured in square meters (m2) and usually includes a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and one or more bedrooms. Some properties may also have a balcony, a garden, or a storage space. The quality of properties can vary widely depending on the age, maintenance, and renovation of the building. Some properties may have modern amenities such as central heating, double glazing, or insulation, while others may have outdated features such as gas heaters, single-pane windows, or mold.
The furnishing of properties in the Netherlands can also differ depending on the landlord or agent. Some properties may be fully furnished (gemeubileerd), meaning they include furniture, appliances, utensils, and linens. Some properties may be partly furnished (gestoffeerd), meaning they include basic items such as curtains, carpets, lighting fixtures, and kitchen cabinets. Some properties may be unfurnished (kaal), meaning they do not include any items at all. Not even the floor covering!
Renting or buying in the Netherlands?
One of the main decisions you need to make when looking for housing in the Netherlands is whether to rent or buy. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your personal situation and preferences.
Renting in the Netherlands can be a good option if you want to have more flexibility and mobility. Renting allows you to change your location easily if you need to relocate for work or personal reasons. Renting also means you do not have to worry about maintenance costs or property taxes. However, renting also has some drawbacks such as high prices, limited availability and low security.
Renting in the Netherlands can be very expensive, especially in popular areas or cities. You may have to pay a deposit, an agency fee, and a service charge on top of your monthly rent. You may also have to compete with other tenants for a limited number of properties.
Buying in the Netherlands can be a good option if you want to have more stability and equity. Buying allows you to own your property and benefit from its appreciation over time. Buying also means you can customize your property to your liking and enjoy tax deductions on your mortgage interest. However, buying also has some challenges such as high costs, legal procedures, and market risks. Buying in the Netherlands can be very costly, as you need to pay for a down payment, a notary fee, a transfer tax, and a valuation fee. You also need to go through a complex and lengthy process of applying for a mortgage, signing a contract, and registering the property. Furthermore, buying in the Netherlands does not guarantee you a profit or a quick sale. Your property value may fluctuate depending on the market conditions and demand. You may also have to pay for maintenance costs and property taxes.
Whether you decide to rent or buy in the Netherlands, you should do your research and compare your options carefully. You should also consult with a professional such as a real estate agent, a mortgage advisor, or a lawyer to help you with your housing search and transaction.
Tips and advice on finding housing in the Netherlands
Finding housing in the Netherlands can be challenging for expats, but not impossible. Here are some tips and advice on how to make your housing search easier and more successful:
- Start your search early. The housing market in the Netherlands is very competitive and fast-moving. You should start looking for properties at least three/four months before your planned move date. This will give you more time and options to find a suitable place.
- Use multiple sources. There are many other ways to find properties in the Netherlands, such as:
- Online: The most famous platform for renting or buying is surely Funda.nl, even the walls know that. However, you can also use websites like Expatica Housing or IamExpat Housing to find properties that cater specifically to expats.
- Real estate agents: There are plenty of agents around the city. AIC has few recommended partners for this topic. Check them up here!
- Word-of-mouth: Ask to your network or engage our community! AIC has a Whatsapp group dedicated to the housing topic. Drop a line in it and see if there is anyone reacting to it. (If you would like to join our group, send us a message)
- Be flexible and realistic. The housing market in the Netherlands is very diverse and dynamic. You may not find your ideal property right away or within your budget. You should be flexible and realistic about your expectations and preferences. You may have to compromise on some aspects such as location, size, or furnishing.
- Visit the property in person. The best way to assess a property is to visit it in person. You should arrange a viewing with the landlord or agent as soon as possible after finding a potential property. You should inspect the property carefully and ask questions about its condition, facilities, utilities, and contract terms.
- Negotiate the rent and contract. The rent and contract terms of a property are not always fixed or final. You may be able to negotiate them with the landlord or agent if you have some leverage or arguments. For example, you may be able to lower the rent if you agree to a longer lease term or pay in advance. You may also be able to change some clauses in the contract if they are unreasonable or unfavorable.
- Seek legal advice if needed. The rental laws and regulations in the Netherlands can be complex and confusing for expats. You may need legal advice if you encounter any problems or disputes with your landlord or agent. You can contact an expat lawyer or an organization such as Huurcommissie (Rent Tribunal) or Juridisch Loket (Legal Desk) for help. AIC has few recommended partners for this topic. Check them up here!
We hope this article has given you some useful information and guidance on housing in the Netherlands for expats. We wish you good luck with your housing search and hope you find your perfect home soon!
Sources: (1) Housing in the Netherlands: a guide for expats | Expatica. https://www.expatica.com/nl/housing/housing-basics/housing-netherlands-139876/.
(2) Rental properties and information about expat housing in the Netherlands. https://www.iamexpat.nl/housing.
(3) The complete guide to renting in the Netherlands | Expatica. https://www.expatica.com/nl/housing/renting/renting-a-property-in-the-netherlands-102925/.