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Markus Anecdotes - Finding a house to rent in the Netherlands

Written by Markus and with photos by Markus

Coming from Singapore and China, I thought “how difficult can it be to find a rental home in the Netherlands?”. Boy, was I wrong.

In the Netherlands you have several types of housing. First there is social housing. Cheap and definitely worth what you pay for. But it is reserved for lower income families, hence you’ll end up in a not so nice neighborhood and the house itself will be not ideal quality and size.

Anyway, my income is too high, so social housing is out of scope. So I need to look at the open market. Here rentals start at 1000 Euro and below, they’d be considered social housing. I’d like to label this the second category, with rentals ranging from 1k to 2.5k Euro per month. And of course, the higher the price, the bigger the house will be or the better it will be situated in or nearby a city. You can actually find mansion sized housed in the countryside for a little as 2k Euro.

A very cute and newly restored house for one 1k Euro a month, but in a remote area of the Netherlands:

A standard “house in a row of houses”, that you’ll find all over the Netherlands, normally in the neighborhoods that circle the city center.

And then there is the 3rd category that I’d like to label “premium”, ranging from 2.5k all the way up to 15k Euro per month. These places will be very big, nicely maintained or are at prime locations in glass skyscrapers. You’ll find them in villa neighborhoods, next to lakes or rivers and next to the canals in the old inner cities of for example, Amsterdam.

You can rent this whole place, including the gardens, for around 7.5k Euro per month.

I went for the middle category as that’s what my budget is.

And this is what we went for:

It is the white building in the middle. Build in the 19th century, it offers 4 floors with 5 bedrooms, huge living room, kitchen, bunch of toilets, all spread over 350m2 of living space. Parking is a disaster, unless you can get a parking permit. I guess, until issued one, I’ll park at the first train station away from the city. The view on the front side is the canal, filled with antique boats and at the back is the open space of (shared) gardens between the buildings. I will pay 2k Euro per month, but it would cost 1.5 million euro to buy. So part of the deal is that I do some needed refurbishing inside, but seen the relatively low rent, it is worth it. The location is perfect: 5 minutes from shops, restaurants, my office and a train station hub, servicing even bullet trains to France. Sounds simple? You know your budget and you look online for your dream house? Once found, you send an email and expect to be invited for a viewing, that potentially leads to a deal? Forget it.

The rental market in the Netherlands is very tight at this moment. About 2/3rd of what is on the market is for sale and not for rent. So you’re left with 1.3rd of the market. Next issue is of that part, about half is offered only as temporary rentals. You don’t want this. You want a permanent contract. And then you have the earlier mentioned 3 price categories, resulting that what actually is within your budget and available to you, is a fraction of the total market.

And you are not the only one with this issue. With you, many are searching.

So when you found your perfect house, you send an email to the real estate agent representing the house, the standard reply you get: “Sorry, it was posted last week so by now we already have a queue of potential candidates”. This means you need to carry on your search.

And then finally you found something for what you got the reply: “sure, let’s make an appointment for tomorrow or the day after for your viewing”. You then visit the place and you like it, so you decide to take it. You think the next step is signing a contract? No, no, that would be way too simple. Now you need to prove that you are “worthy” of the place.

You’ll need to submit your payslips, showing you have a permanent employment contract with an monthly gross salary of at least four times the monthly rent. You’ll also need to do a finance check, showing you do not have debts. You’ll need a statement from the previous house you rented that you are a good tenant. And last but not least, the real-estate agent must like you. If it doesn’t click during your viewing appointment, then forget it. You will never get this house. You’ll also need to give permission that they can check your government records, showing your whole history. If anything is wrong there, or even slightly unclear, they’ll move to the next candidate.

I’m happy to say that I sailed through all above mentioned requirements and got the place. But going through this process is quite the roller-coaster as till the last moment, you will not know if they accept you. But once they do, I at least felt like a winner.

If you ever decide to move to the Netherlands and want to buy or rent a place, let me know. For now though, I’m going to dream of what colors of paint I will chose and what to use each room for.

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