- Pascal Tremblay
With InterNations as my network, I have been able to make many friends learn the ins and outs about living in The Hague.
Depending on where you decide to reside, housing in the Netherlands can be expensive. That is especially notable to anyone who wishes to find a house or apartment for rent in the central area of big cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
The market in the Netherlands is fast paced, so you will need to be quick when deciding whether or not to sign a contract. When you make a visit to a potential home, come prepared and have the necessary documents at hand. However, that does not mean that you will be able to find and get the place you want right away. Looking for the perfect home might take a while, so consider short-term rentals as a temporary option whilst you inspect the market.
While these days the country has quite a few different types of houses available for both rent and purchase, the most common one is the traditional town house that you see on streets and alongside canals. If canals intrigue you, you can literally immerse your life in them by living on a houseboat.
If you wish to buy a house, you will face no legal restrictions as long as you have a sufficient budget. Taking a mortgage, however, will require proof of stable income.
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Renting a House or Apartment
There is no big science behind how to rent a house or apartment in the Netherlands. The main advice is to trust a real estate professional that can lead you through the process of renting accommodation and be swift and decisive when it comes to making a choice.
Renting in the Netherlands as a Foreigner
When it comes to rentals, the housing market in the Netherlands is split in two:
- Social housing (75% of the market)
- Private housing (25% of the market)
Each year, at least 80% of vacant social housing is reserved for people whose yearly wages are below a certain threshold (under 37,000 EUR (40,780 USD) currently). At least 10% of the market is for people that earn more than the set amount. However, it is unlikely that expats can make use of that part of the market.
In addition to the wage cap, there are also long waiting lists, which means it can take years to be offered an accommodation. That is why most foreigners focus on the private market from the start.
The rent for social housing is capped by the government (currently it is around 720 EUR (783 USD); the number is adjusted every year). Anything above the set sum immediately qualifies for the private market.
Furnished on Unfurnished Apartments?
There are three types of apartments you will come across when looking for accommodation in the Netherlands:
- Fully furnished
- Shell-type apartment
Fully furnished places are the rarest and the priciest of all. They can be found in bigger cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but they are very uncommon in smaller towns.
Unfurnished and shell-type accommodation is sometimes used interchangeably; however, there is a notable difference. Shell-type accommodation comes without the white goods, lighting fixtures, and, in some cases, even flooring, which unfurnished places usually have. Keep this distinction in mind when looking for a place to rent. Some shell-type accommodation has commodities installed by previous tenants, so inquire if you need to pay for them.
Average Rent in the Netherlands
The Netherlands rent prices depend on where in the country you reside. Big cities tend to be pricier, while the countryside offers more affordable accommodation.
How much is average rent in the top 3 most expensive regions in the Netherlands (living surface 100–149 square meters)?
- Noord-Holland – 930 EUR (1,025 USD)
- Zuid-Holland – 880 EUR (970 USD)
- Utrecht – 850 EUR (840 USD)
How much is average rent in the top 3 most affordable regions in the Netherlands (living surface 100–149 square meters)?
- Friesland – 650 EUR (720 USD)
- Drenthe – 660 (730 USD)
- Groningen – 675 (745 USD)
At the moment the rent prices are increasing all over the country with the most notable yearly growth in Amsterdam (3.4%), Rotterdam (3.2%), the Hague (2.5%), and Utrecht (2.4%).
The minimum house rent in the Netherlands’ biggest cities (shell-type accommodation):
- Amsterdam – 1,000 EUR (1,100 USD)
- Rotterdam – 950 EUR (1,050 USD)
- The Hague (Den Haag) – 850 EUR (940 USD)
Requirements and Documents for Renting
If you are working in the Netherlands, you will need to present your employment contract to your potential landlord. You might also need to present your Dutch bank statement and your overall credit record from other countries. Note that in some cases your potential landlord might ask you to prove that your salary is at least three or four times bigger than the monthly rent.
Rental Process and Rules
Once you find accommodation that suits your needs, you will need to set up an appointment with your landlord where you can sign your contract. The best practice of renting in the Netherlands is hiring a team of local experts that will ensure your housing situation is secured on time. This also prevents you from potential scams and helps you overcome the language barrier that might be there if you do not speak Dutch.
Dutch law is pro-tenant. Your landlord is obliged to take care of problems and any major repairs in the accommodation. Your duties as a tenant will involve paying rent on time and following other agreed upon rules regarding pets, smoking, and apartment or neighborhood regulations. The tenant is also responsible for taking care of minor repairs and giving the landlord access to the accommodation to carry out necessary maintenance.
Rental Contract and Deposit
With how rare furnished apartments are in the Netherlands, it is no surprise that most rental contracts are at least one year long. This gives the tenant enough time to get their bearings and settle in their new place. Usually, the rental agreements are two or five years long. The notice period is usually one to three months.
There are two types of rental contract in the Netherlands:
- fixed-period contract – rental agreement with an indicated end date. The contract ends either automatically (if signed before 1 July 2016) or after a mutual landlord-tenant agreement (if signed after 1 July 2016). A written document that indicates termination must be presented in both cases.
- indefinite contract – rental agreement with no end date. This can be terminated by the landlord if there are grounds to do so.
What Should Your Rental Contract Include?
In the Netherlands, oral rental agreements are valid. However, it is best practice to avoid them. That is because it is usually hard to prove their validity and witnesses will be necessary to make it official.
Your rental contract should include:
- maintenance agreements
- house rules (pet, smoking policies, etc.)
- the date on which the rent will be increased each year
- signatures of the landlord and the tenant
In addition to that, see if you can also include:
- the address and description of the place in question
- rent amount, the date it is due, and the method of payment
- information about deposit
- information about utility bills payments
- inspection list that indicates the state of the accommodation and its household items
- details on how the contract can be terminated and the notice period
- details on what actions will be taken if the tenant or the landlord are not fulfilling their duties
Note that if there is no inspection list in your contract and your landlord is trying to argue that you have damaged property, they will be responsible for providing evidence for it. If you have signed your contract before 1 August 2003, it is the other way around and you have to prove what damage has or has not been done.
There are no rules or limits on how big the deposit can be. However, it typically equals the amount of one month’s rent for unfurnished and shell-type accommodation. Landlords of furnished places might require two months’ rent as a deposit.
Staying in short-term rentals is a great solution for tenants who wish to inspect their future house before signing the contract. However, as fully furnished accommodation is quite rare, expect to find temporary rentals in main cities only.
Apartments or houses available for short term lease can be found online, on websites like Pararius. The Netherlands also offers a selection of serviced apartments that have designated parking spaces, security, and cleaning services.
One of the things to know about furnished short-term rentals is that most of these apartments quote daily, not monthly prices. However, most of them have a minimum stay requirement that can be one or two weeks or even six months. Most temporary housing providers will allow you to rent the accommodation for up to a year; however, that might depend on certain factors.
Short-Term Rentals: What Documents You Need
Most temporary rentals will only require proof of ID and your credit or debit card information to make the payment. However, some serviced apartments might require you to prove the length of your stay by providing a copy of your employment contract. Sometimes a bank statement with a credit score is also necessary as evidence of sufficient income.
Short-Term Rentals: Average Price
The average price of a short-term rental will depend on which city you choose to stay in. The average cost per night is about 60–160 EUR (66–177 USD). Bigger rentals located in central areas can cost up to 350 EUR (388 USD) per night.
Buying Property as a Foreigner
If you are wondering how to buy a house in the Netherlands as a foreigner, know that as long as you have sufficient funds, you should not face many restrictions acquiring property. However, making a purchase on your own is likely to be impossible. That is why you should contact professionals that can help you find and secure your future home in the country.
Requirements to Buy Property in the Netherlands
There are no legal restrictions to who can buy property in the Netherlands when it comes to citizens of other countries. However, having a Dutch or EU residence permit will increase your chances of getting a mortgage from a local bank.
Because of how lenient the law is towards foreigners acquiring property in the Netherlands, you cannot get citizenship, permanent residence, or a visa solely by buying a house in the country.
Types of Property in the Netherlands
The most common type of property in the Netherlands is a town or terraced house (rijtjeshuis). These are usually narrow, with three or more floors, front and back yards, and connected to similar houses. Other popular property types are:
- detached house (vrijstaand)
- semi-detached house (twee onder een kap)
- apartment (appartement)
- houseboat (woonboot)
House Prices in the Netherlands
Know that you can negotiate the price of previously owned property. Newly-built housing is usually sold at a fixed price.
Note that some buildings come without the land it is on. You might either need to purchase the land separately or lease it from the city you are planning to live in. The ground rent can be paid in full or broken into annual contributions.
Average house prices in the biggest cities in the Netherlands:
- Amsterdam – (starts at) 500,000 EUR (552,600 USD)
- Utrecht – 325,000 EUR (359,200 USD)
- Rotterdam – 285,000 EUR (315,000 USD)
- The Hague (Den Haag) – 240,000 EUR (265,300 USD)
Getting a Mortgage in the Netherlands
Banks in the Netherlands can loan you a sum that equals 100% of the value of the property in question. However, that does not necessarily mean that your purchase will be fully covered. It depends on how much the property you wish to buy is valued by an independent surveyor from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. So, if the property you want to acquire costs 500,000 EUR (552,600 USD), but the surveyor indicates that its value is 450,000 EUR (497,400 USD), the bank will lend you 450,000 EUR (497,400 USD) and you will need to pay the rest yourself.
In most cases, you need a residence permit in order to get a mortgage loan in the Netherlands. Other requirements might include:
- residing in the Netherlands for at least five years
- if self-employed, bank statements for the last three years and an indication of potential earnings in the future
Process and Steps for Buying a House in the Netherlands
Once you find a home you want to purchase, you with the help of your hired real estate professional, can submit your offer. It is customary for it to be conditional, depending on your finance, as the size of your mortgage can only be determined after you submit the offer.
Then, you will have minimum six weeks to finalize your financial situation. During this time, there should be a building inspection conducted and the potential property should be valued by the Dutch taxation inspectors.
When the financial situation is settled and everything is agreed upon, you can close the deal with the help of a notary. Once the Land Registry is informed of your purchase, you will officially own a home in the Netherlands.
Guide to Additional Expenses when Buying a Home in the Netherlands
Extra costs can amount to an additional 5–6% of the property price on top of your purchase. These are:
- real estate agent costs
- financial advisor and/or mortgage broker costs
- notary costs
- interpreter costs
- costs for additional documents and translations
- costs for property inspection
- transfer tax for the government
Additionally, once you become a property owner, you will need to start paying property tax. If your new property is an apartment building or a townhouse you are also obliged to make contributions to your building’s homeowner association.
Some of the utility sectors in the Netherlands are privatized. That means that you might be able to shop around for the most suitable utility company before registering. However, note that if your utilities are included in your bills, you avoid the hassle.
Utility Companies: Electricity and Gas
Energy (both electricity and gas) in the Netherlands is privatized and there are many suppliers you can choose from when moving into your new home. However, the choice might be limited to what is available in your area. Some of the companies are:
- Eneco (electricity, gas, and heating)
- Essent (electricity, gas, and heating; the country’s biggest energy company)
- Nuon (electricity, gas, and heating)
- Vanderbron (electricity; green energy company)
Find the best deal available to you by visiting this directory that allows you to compare your choices.
Energy contracts usually last one, three, or five years.
Utility Companies: Water
You cannot choose your water supplier in the Netherlands as the companies are not privatized. Instead, the companies that regulate the water grid are assigned their own area in the country. These are:
- Brabant Water (Northern part of Brabant)
- Evides (Zeeland and the south of Zuid-Holland)
- Duena (The Hague and Leiden)
- Oasen (the east of Zuid-Holland)
- PWN (Noord-Holland)
- Vitens (Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Flevoland, and Friesland)
- Waternet (Amsterdam)
- WMD (Drenthe)
- WML (Limburg)
- WBG (Groningen)
Registering for Utilities
There are no required documents to start a water or energy account. Most commonly, both are already connected to your home and all you need to do is call the company and set it all up over the phone.
Things to Know
- Tap water in the Netherlands in drinkable.
- Your first water bill is an estimation of your usage. If the estimation is wrong, at the end of the year you might be eligible for a refund or have to pay extra.
- You can choose an energy provider that will supply both gas and electricity to your home. However, it might be cheaper to choose separate companies.
- When choosing your energy provider, you can opt for green, coal, or nuclear power.
- If you own a home in the Netherlands, you can choose to install solar panels on your roof. However, the government does not subsidize the costs anymore.
- Getting an electricity meter might allow you make use of a cheaper off-peak tariff on weekdays between 23:00 and 07:00 and weekends.
Internet and Mobile Phones
How to Get a SIM Card in the Netherlands
There are plenty of service providers around the Netherlands that offer bundles with call minutes, internet data, and texts. You can get in by going to a specialized company shop or, if you already have an address in the Netherlands, by purchasing a card online.
If you want to start a contract you will need all or some of the following documents:
- proof of identity
- bank card or account details
- bank statement
Some of the available cell phone providers in the Netherlands:
Just like with mobile phone connection, there are many internet providers you can choose from. Some of them offer packages together with digital TV and a phone connection. Some of the available companies are:
To get these services you can call the company or inquire about their services by visiting their store. Typically, it will take about three weeks to get your internet connection set up.
In general, an ADSL internet connection is the most common in the Netherlands. Fiber optic internet can be quite rare in the country.
Television in the Netherlands
The biggest internet providers also offer TV deals for anyone who wishes to watch digital television in the Netherlands. These are a few of your options:
If you want to watch your home country’s TV while in the Netherlands, know that most companies have packages that include a combination of various Dutch and international channels. Some even offer specialty bundles for channels from specific countries or in specific languages.
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- Pascal Tremblay
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