I think Christel is right about the prices in Rotterdam; out of the four big cities, Rotterdam is probably the cheapest.
London is among the most expensive cities in the world, so of course, Amsterdam is cheaper than London. However, apartments are not much cheaper. If you look at this list
, which ranks cities by the prices you pay for apartments, you see that Monaco and London are followed by Paris and Amsterdam.
Bokassa, I think a landlord in another part of the country might try to ask for a higher rent if the tenant is a foreigner, but in Amsterdam, landlords can simply ask these high prices to anyone (also to me, and I am an Amsterdammer
) due to the high demand for housing. A large part of the Amsterdam real estate is owned by non-commercial housing corporations; the prices they ask for apartments are a lot lower than on the commercial housing market. Unfortunately, there are long waiting lists and if you have not lived in Amsterdam for a while, you are not likely to find an apartment through one of these corporations.
A cheap alternative is to rent a place through an "anti-squat agency". These are agencies that seek tenants for buildings that are temporarily out of use (e.g. schools). It is usually very cheap and you get to live in the most beautiful buildings. The downside is that the contract is always temporary (sometimes only for a few months). See e.g. http://www.anti-kraak.nl/