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 the information under Watch out for rental scams!
- 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.
- Read other international students' housing stories and tips in the Leidener blog.
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.
Unfortunately, international students are sometimes targeted by scammers offering non-existent accommodation. Make sure you don’t fall victim to a rental scam by following the advice below.
Precautions when searching
- For agency ads: check the agency really exists! Search online for reviews or warnings. Make sure they provide their full contact details, including postal address. Check the company is listed on the Dutch Chamber of Commerce website (in Dutch, but simply enter the company name in the search bar to look for listings). If possible, meet a representative of the company in advance.
- For private ads: Check the person really is who they say they are! Search online for information or warnings. Make sure you get their full contact details, including postal address. Scammers often use stolen IDs, so do an online reversed image search. If possible, meet the landlord in advance.
- Check the property really exists! Look for the address on Google Maps. Does the description in the ad match the actual location? Compare the photos in the ad with Google Street View. Do the view from the window and property style correspond with what you would expect? Are there any features mentioned in the ad that don’t match the location, e.g. non-existent tram stops? If possible, view the property in advance.
- Scammers often recycle text and images from old ads. Search for the exact text online or try a revered image search.
- If you have friends or family in the Netherlands, ask them to view the property and meet the landlord.
- Take a look at this blog by Kamernet for further advice on how to recognise a scammer.
- Join the Facebook group (Dutch) housing scammers exposed, in which members share tips and warnings about scammers on the Dutch housing market.
- The agency or landlord seems to be based outside the Netherlands. Scammers are often located abroad.
- You are asked to pay in cash, or transfer money to a non-Dutch bank account or via a service such as Western Union or MoneyGram.
- The agency or landlord contacts you first. Scammers often target people who have been looking for rooms via online platforms and social media.
- The property is much cheaper than others in the area. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- You are asked to pay costs well in advance, i.e. before you have even viewed the room or met the landlord.
- You are asked to send a copy of your passport or ID in advance. Never send your official documents to people you do not know!
- The landlord is vague, doesn’t want to answer your questions, or speaks very poor English or Dutch.
- The landlord pushes you to sign the contract right away, without giving you time to check it, claiming that he can ‘easily rent the property to someone else’. Always check your rental contract carefully before signing! See the section rental contract advise.
Once you’ve found a potential property
- If you have concerns, check who actually owns the property by requesting digital proof of ownership (uitreksel eigendomsakte) for a small fee from the land registry website (Kadaster). Contact the Housing Office if you have difficulties using the site.
- Consider paying a company such as Housing Check to verify that everything is legitimate.
If you have been scammed
So you think you’ve found a place to live. That’s great! Before signing your rental contract, read the following advice carefully.
- Read the section on rental scams and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate landlord.
- If you are offered a contract in Dutch, have it translated. Make sure you know what you are signing.
- Check your contract carefully. Make sure your details and those of your landlord are complete and correct. Ensure that the rental period, rental price, payment dates (and methods) and notice period are clearly stated.
- Check what is included in your rent, e.g. gas, water, electricity, service costs, internet, local taxes etc.
- Check whether you need to pay an agency fee, deposit or other additional fees. If a security deposit is required, find out how and when you can get it back.
- Check if the room is furnished. If so, are there additional costs for taking over the furnishings? Make sure an itinerary of contents is included in your agreement.
- Make sure you can register with your local town hall at the address. This is sometimes not the case, e.g. for sublet accommodation.
- Check that the property has the standard safety provisions, such as smoke and CO2 detectors, fire extinguishers and a fire escape route.
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.
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.