Finding housing yourself
Have you decided to look for housing yourself? Find out how to start your search and what you need be aware of?
This section contains a wealth of advice on how to search for housing, what you should expect to pay and the possible pitfalls to keep in mind. There are also handy links to housing organisations, as well as Dutch housing terminology tips.
There are many ways to find your own housing in the Netherlands. Here are some things to bear in mind before you get started.
- Start your search early, even before you have been accepted by Leiden University. Accommodation is scarce, so the earlier you start, the greater your chance of finding something.
- Read our tips on how to avoid and recognise a rental scam.
- If you require a visa and/or residence permit, arrange your accommodation well in advance. The immigration department will check that you have registered at a Dutch address with your local town hall soon after arrival and may cancel your residence permit if you have not done so.
- Familarise yourself with the rental prices you can expect to pay.
- Familiarise yourself with the various types of housing organisation and any fees or deposits you might have to pay.
- Don’t restrict your search to the cities of Leiden or The Hague. Take a look in the surrounding villages and towns, where you can often get better value for money.
- Use social media! Students often use Facebook groups to offer and search for accommodation.
- Use your contacts! If you know anyone currently living or studying in the area, ask them for help and advice.
Rental prices in the Netherlands are quite high compared to many other European countries, though still lower than in cities such as Paris or London. The most expensive part of the Netherlands is the area around Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden and Utrecht.
Accommodation in Leiden tends to be slightly more expensive than in The Hague, due to more limited availability. Prices vary greatly, depending on whether facilities are shared, how many housemates you’ll have and if water/gas/electricity are included. Here is a rough indication of average rental prices:
- Room in Leiden: € 350 - € 600
- Room in The Hague: € 250 - € 500
- Studio in Leiden or The Hague: €450
- Apartment in Leiden or The Hague: € 650 - € 1000
There are a many housing organisations and agencies offering accommodation in Leiden and The Hague. Visit their website to find out what they have on offer and how they do business. Always check whether you have to pay a fee and familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations. If you are offered a rental contract in Dutch, have it translated and read it carefully before signing.
Non-profit housing associations
Commercial housing agencies
Hostels and holiday rentals
Whilst looking for something more permanent, you could consider staying in a holiday apartment or hostel.
Housing search engines
Useful Dutch terminology
Some housing websites and search engines are only available in Dutch. However by learning a few standard Dutch terms, you should be able to find your way online.
Studying, working and living abroad can be quite a challenge. If you have the opportunity to stay with family or friends that will be one less thing to worry about.
If you require a student visa/residence permit, don’t forget that you must register at a Dutch address with your local town hall soon after arrival. Check in advance that you are permitted to register at your family or friend's address.
So you think you’ve found suitable rental accommodation. That’s great! But before agreeing to anything, follow the advice below to make sure you don’t fall victim to a rental scam.
- Make sure the accommodation is being rented out via an official website or company. Try looking on the website of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
- Check out the address in Google maps, to make sure it really exists.
- Scammers often use stolen identities. Search for their photo online. Make an appointment to meet in person or through Skype. Make sure the landlord is actually the person he/she claims to be.
- Never send a copy of your passport or credit/debit card to strangers.
- As housing is scarce, you might receive unwanted emails from scammers trying to rent out (non-existent) accommodation. Be very wary of unsolicited emails.
- Never sign a housing contract without having first read it carefully. Be sure you fully understand and agree with what you are signing. Get someone to translate it for you if necessary.
Possible signs of a rental scam
- You have to pay rent (or other costs) in advance, without having seen the apartment or met the landlord/agency staff.
- You have to transfer money to a non-Dutch bank account.
- The rental price is much lower than other apartments in the same area/location.
- The pictures sent do not resemble the location in any way.
- The landlord/agency is too eager or pushy to rent the apartment to you.
- You have a bad feeling about the landlord or how things are proceeding.
What if you have been scammed?
If you have been scammed don’t lose hope of finding another apartment. Always contact the police to let them know what has happened. They might be able to find the scammer and prevent others being caught out.
Help with housing problems
If you are having difficulties finding a room, or experiencing problems with your (future) landlord, you can contact the Housing hotline. This is an initiative of the Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and Erasmus Student Network (ESN), through which international students can request online advice on a range of housing issues.