Although I still don't have a roof over my head (but wait, as there's something brewing!) and I can't therefore consider myself a pro in this activity, the last frantic days of house hunting have given me enough knowledge of the Dutch estate market as to be giving some advice to those of you who are out there exploring this world too.
Let me tell ya: it's a big bad world.
- it's expensive
- it's VERY expensive!
But don't give up: the Netherlands are full of international students and expats coming and going, and there's a big turnover both for rooms and apartments. You're also very likely going to move to some of the big cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht, not in the boondocks! The market will be full of opportunities there and you'll surely find your perfect match.
The main difficulty is finding the right channels for your hunt. The websites and resources we use it in Italy (like Bakeca, Kijiji and the damp estate newspapers out for display at news-stands) are not in use in the Netherlands.
I called for the help of friends and acquantainces living in the Netherlands and they suggested a few websites that I could use. Below you'll find a list of those that I've come to try (in order of preference) and a short review!
Real Estate Websites
- Kamernet.nl: THUMBS UP! On Kamernet I found a great variety and quantity of valid, redent ads, in line with my budget and taste. Signing up and viewing ads is free, but you need to pay a subscription fee to contact the renter (from a minimum of 21 € for 15 days to a maximum of 36 € for 60 days). It is worth the cost, cause all ads are REAL, posted privately, and for all budgets.
- Kamerhuren.nl: works like Kamernet, meaning that ads-viewing is free, but there's a fee for reacting to them. There is no subscription and you pay per reaction, but to get the renter contacts you have to send a sms from a Dutch mobile at the advantageous price of 1,50 € per sms. To sum it up, it is not easy nor convenient, unless you already have a Dutch phone and a lot of money and time to waste. It appears to me that is also not as popular as Kamernet, there are less ads and more dated. But it's still worth a glimpse, if you should find something you really like then 1,50 € it's a cheap price to pay.
- Pararius.nl: you will find a lot of ads here, but they are all managed by real estate agencies. If you like estate agents you'll be pleased by this site, where contacting them is free (although visiting the place may not be - some agencies require and advance payment). I personally don't like estate agencies, but if you are interested these are their prices:
- Equavalent to 1 month of rent
- Mediation fee (Equavalent to 1 month of rent)
- VAT 19% (calculated on the service fee)
- Erasmusu: specialised in rooms in shared flats, focused on students but also useful for young workers who wish to find a cheap accommodation. Subscribing is necessary to react to ads and costly (much more than Kamernet): starting at 15 € for 5 days, and up to 60 € for 6 months (hope it doesn't take 6 months to find a room...).
- Rent Student Room: a sort of forum where registering and answering to posts is free. Rooms are posted on the site and users can react to them in a thread or by private message.
If you are looking for a temporary accommodation, you may find something on Airbnb too. Many of the rooms and apartments posted are by people who wish to rent their place while travelling or away.
This is quite common in the Netherlands, where people have an open and pragmatic mind, and think it is a waste to leave the house empty when they could raise some money out of it. On the contrary, in Italy we are very attached to our house and rarely ready to share it with anybody!
If you are lucky enough to have some local acquaintances, don't forget to tell your friends that you are looking for a place to stay and ask them to get some information for you: word of mouth is the best way to get top apartments and prices.
Another possibility is to check if there's any Facebook page dedicated to expat in the city where you're going to live, they may help you with your hunt or at least suggest neighbourhoods to avoid.
Finally, as suggested by my friend Gaetano, try to google "free rental service" + the name of your city. You may find some other websites offering agency-free rentals. You never know...
TE KOOP = for sale
TE HUUR = for rent
If you know about other channels and resources please tell me and I'll be happy to add them :)