With more than 16 million people on a surface of just a bit more than 42,000 square kilometers, the Dutch housing situation is far from ideal. Finding an affordable place to live is especially hard in the Randstad (Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam), but not impossible if you look hard enough.
Renting a place
If you are planning to rent a place, you are looking for a huurwoning. You are normally asked for a waarborg (deposit), which varies between one and three months rent. The price can be inclusief EGW (including electricity, gas, and water) or exclusief EGW. Sometimes, you are charged an additional fee for servicekosten (service charges). Make sure you have a fire and theft insurance. Rental contracts are normally for one year. After the first year, a one month notice (opzegtermijn) applies for tenants.
Finding a place
Among the printed resources, the Saturday issues of the main newspapers are your best bet. And of course, check out the internet.
The ViaVia, a paper for classified ads, is the best printed resource when you are looking for housing and you can access most of their classifieds online. It is published twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday morning. The Saturday edition of the national newspaper De Telegraaf also lists a lot of rooms, apartments, and houses for rent. Golden rule for all printed resources: Get up early! You really want to be the first person to call for that beautiful apartment.
If a place is for rent, the owner usually places a sign te huur on the window, which means 'for rent'.
Buying a place ('kopen')
Being much more densely populated than the neighbouring countries, Dutch housing prices are significantly higher than in Germany or Belgium. In 2007, the average price for a place to live (houses and apartements) was well over € 240,000.
The proportion of rental houses is high compared with the neighbouring countries. Partly, because of the high real estate prices, but also because of the good terms and conditions for tenants. Rental prices are regulated by the government (except for furnished apartments) and the rights of tenants are well protected. The proportion of house owners is, however, steadily growing. 1997 was the year that house owners outnumbered tenants for the first time.
To find a koophuis (house for sale), you can browse through the offers on De Woonlijn.
The website www.ruimte-en-vastgoed.nl gives an overview of all real estate brokers in the Netherlands and Belgium. You can click on the map to select a region. www.vastgoedsites.nl is another website that lists real estate brokers in the Netherlands.
When you see a sign te koop, this means that the house is for sale.
When you ask a bank for a mortgage, you must have a stable income or a financial reserve of some kind.
Homefinance.nl, hypotheekofferte.nl and hypotheektopper.nl are a few (among many) websites that let you compare mortgages. They all claim to be independent, which means they are not trying to sell you a mortgage that will give them the optimal profit. To be on the safe side, you can check different websites, which gives you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for a mortgage and the amount you can borrow.
On hypotheek-assistent.nl, you find a list of all financial institutions that offer mortgages (under 'klik hier'), including the major Dutch banks ABN Amro, Fortis, ING, and the Postbank. Click on a company to compare the rates and conditions.