Looking for Housing as an Expat in the Netherlands? Here is What to Expect

| Jimble

As in most popular countries across the world, major cities throughout the Netherlands are facing a housing shortage. This means that looking for housing in the Netherlands as an expat can be challenging. Overall, there’s more demand than there is supply, making the housing market very competitive and tough. 

With a country that offers many great city options, more internationals are deciding to relocate to the Netherlands, therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the most useful information and tips you should read before you start searching for housing in your relocation journey.

Renting or buying as an expat

You have two main options for housing in the Netherlands: renting or buying.
Renting is always a good, flexible possibility that doesn’t require much commitment, although you will be restricted when it comes to designing and customizing the new home to your liking. 

If you are considering buying, look into your mortgage options. Buying a property will take a much longer time and come with extra costs. Still, in some cases, paying monthly mortgage instalments can be more economical than paying rent.
Generally, should you have the financial means, you may want to consider buying if you will be living in the Netherlands for more than three years.

Whether you’re renting or buying, you can find properties online on property platforms like Funda and Pararius, where you can filter your options by the number of rooms, size, area, furnishing, etc. Browsing online will give you an idea of what to expect going into this journey. For example, you can see what you can get with your budget since the prices will depend on various things such as the area of the house; the closer you are to the city centre or popular neighbourhoods, the more expensive the housing will be. Additionally, the condition of the property, its size, its furnishings, its energy label and more can influence the pricing.

Finding rental properties in the Netherlands

If you’re looking for rental housing options as an international in the Netherlands, know that you will mostly come across unfurnished options, although finding semi- or fully furnished listings is still possible. Lightly or fully furnished properties are recommended for those renting for relatively short periods of time because they may be less expensive in the long run.

Additional expenses

Once you find the perfect property to rent, a security deposit and the first month’s rent will be required of you as a tenant upon signing the lease. The rental deposit is approximately 2-3 months’ worth of rent. You will usually get the deposit back after one month once you move out if you return the property in good condition and without damage.

Remember that there will be further costs like utility bills (electric/gas/internet), municipal taxes, and furnishing unless they are explicitly included in your rent.

Tip It’s wise to take out home content insurance to protect your belongings in case of burglary or any other unexpected incidents.

Rental Contracts in the Netherlands

There are two popular rental contracts that you should know about as an international in the Netherlands: fixed-term contracts and indefinite tenancy agreements. 

Fixed-term contracts often last one to two years and require a one-month termination notice from both sides. With indefinite tenancy agreements, there’s no need to renew the contract. There may be a minimum rental period, and you still need to give notice to terminate the contract. 

Dutch rental law usually favors the tenant rather than the landlord. This means your landlord won’t be able to evict you without a good cause. As a tenant, you are often responsible to pay for minor repairs like a clogged sink and tenant-caused damages. Often the landlord will pay for bigger repairs. Lastly, don’t forget to remove any of your belongings or additions you have made to the house before moving out. This may affect your deposit!

Our top tips for looking for housing in the Netherlands

  • Kamers? Kamer means room in Dutch, a word you will often come across in your search. The word refers to the number of bedrooms and living rooms, but not the kitchen or bathrooms. For example, 1 kamer would be a studio, and 2 kamers would be one bedroom + a living room, etc.

  • There is a lot of competition over good properties so keep an open mind as it’s not realistic to find a property that checks off everything on your list of preferences. Distinguishing your deal-breakers and priorities in your preferences is a game-changer on your search journey.

  • For the singles: it is very hard to find a nice one-bedroom apartment closer to city centers. If you have a tighter budget, consider renting out a studio as well.
  • Plan and set time apart. Expect at least 2 months to find a house. It is safe to presume that you will need time and it’s better to start early. 
  • Beware of the rules the landlord set. Landlords may have strict rules on pets, smoking, etc. Pay attention to the mentioned rules. If not, you may make a wrong decision or lose a part of your deposit. You can always refer back to these rules in your contract afterwards. 
  • Be decisive and ready to sign. As there’s a lot of competition and demand, properties get multiple offers simultaneously. Once you have found housing that meets your prioritized standards, you should act quickly and make a decision fast. Be ready to jump in and sign. Once a property is available, it can take as little as 1 or 2 days before it’s gone.
  • Check your rental agreement carefully. Landlords will need to specify in detail what they will be charging you and what additional fees there will be, so it’s important to pay attention and beware before signing.
  • Register. As soon as you arrive at your housing, it is important to register at the municipality with your new address. This is crucial to get your BSN (Citizen Service) Number. You will need this for most formal interactions during your stay in the Netherlands.


Whether you are looking for temporary accommodation, long-term rental, or a property to buy, looking for housing in the Netherlands while relocating can be time-consuming.

If you want to save time and energy while making sure that you find the best property for you and your family, relocation service providers like us can find you your desired housing while also taking care of everything else during your relocation journey. Make sure to check out our website and contact us to find out what the best relocation package is for you!