Making the decision to move to the Netherlands for the first time can be exciting, however there are many practical steps to take care of when you prepare for your relocation. One of the most significant ones is finding a house or apartment that you can call home during your stay here. You will need to have a residential address to register at once you start living in the Leiden region, so that you can receive your BSN (Citizen Service Number), open up a bank account, and take out health insurance.
So, for internationals, finding housing (that allows you to register at the address) is an especially necessary part of the process of settling into the Netherlands. If you aren't able to find your own place immediately, it is still possible to sometimes register temporarily at another address for BSN registration purposes. You can learn more about this on our Registering at Your Employer's Address page.
Even for locals, house hunting can be a challenge, but there are definitely some tips and tricks to keep in mind that can hopefully increase your chances at success. Take a look below for some of our suggestions!
Use a Real Estate Agent
Although using housing websites, such as Funda, Pararius, and Kamernet, are good places to begin your search, getting in touch with a real estate agent can greatly increase your chances of finding suitable housing. Housing websites offer a broad overview of the different houses and apartments currently on the rental market, but they may not always be up to date (sometimes people forget to update or remove listings).
By going directly to the websites of different real estate agencies, you can find more up to date listings and browse through what each real estate agent has available. If you find one that you like, you can contact them directly about this particular apartment or house.
Alternatively, if you would like more hands on assistance, you can contact different real estate agents and agencies and work directly with a real estate agent to find you housing. Working with a real estate agent can ensure that you not only have the most up to date information, but you may even be informed about places that have not yet been made available but will soon be on the market.
You can find out more about some of the real estate agencies operating in the Leiden region on our Short and Long Stay page.
Use Relocation Services
If you also want assistance not just with finding housing but with the entire relocation process, then you can choose to get in touch with a relocation agency. Depending upon the organisation, these agencies can help facilitate your travel, finding housing, setting up a Dutch bank account, putting you in touch with health insurance providers, finding appropriate schools for your children, and more. Using a relocation service means you won't need to necessarily worry about finding housing, and, additionally, much of what makes moving abroad stressful is removed from your own to-do list.
If you would like to learn more about different relocation services, and what plans you need to make to move to the Netherlands, then you can take a look at our Plan Your Move page.
Broaden Your Search Area
Although it may make the most sense to begin your house search directly in Leiden (if your employer is located in Leiden), it's also good to know that there are many nearby municipalities that are within easy commuting distance of Leiden. For example, the municipalites of Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, and Zoeterwoude are not only close to Leiden, but they are also lovely places to find your new home in. Moreover, smaller municipalities may have more affordable rental prices and it can be easier to find housing in them than cities.
Broadening your search area can therefore not only help you to find your new home, but it may come with its own additional benefits. If you have children or pets, you are more likely to find a place with a garden if you look outside of the city, for example. So if you are struggling to find housing directly in Leiden, then why not take a look at what the rest of the Leiden region offers too?
You can start your house search whilst abroad, but arriving in the Netherlands and being able to go to viewings in-person can make a huge difference to the success of your search. Being in-person gives you the chance not only to go to viewings, but it also means you can begin to grow your network in the Leiden region.
Many people find homes through word of mouth, so letting others know that you're searching for a place is always beneficial to the house hunt. People may be able to help you by giving you some advice on the search, providing names of real estate agents that they used themselves, or they may even know of landlords searching for new tenants. Of course, it's always good to do some research on an apartment before signing the contract, but networking with others can be hugely helpful in orienting yourself in the Dutch rental market.
Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, because there are many people on the search for a home in the Netherlands now, there are also inevitably scammers looking to take advantage of house hunters. It's good to always be aware of the fact that there are scammers out there, and so whenever you find an apartment listing make sure to take note of any red flags.
Don't, for instance, put down a deposit on an apartment before you have the chance to view it in-person. Of course, when searching from abroad, this is easier said than done, so if possible see if you can ask someone else to view the apartment for you. Additionally, always make sure that you are allowed to be registered at the apartment - some places have a maximum number of occupants that are allowed to register as living there, and you are required to live in a place that you can register at. This is especially important because incorrect registration can have consequences such as fines, and municipalities may check periodically on residential apartments and houses to ensure the correct number of people are registered as living there.
Some landlords may ask you for your BSN as part of the documents collected for drawing up your rental contract. Please note that this is not usual practice, and landlords do not require your BSN for a rental contract. Your BSN should not be given out to private individuals or non-governmental organisations - Leiden International Centre will never ask for it.
If you want to learn more about housing in the Leiden region as a whole, including the legal aspects of it, and what else to take into consideration, then explore our Housing pages below!