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Info for expats

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You’ve just arrived in the Netherlands. A great chance that you are on your own in finding a place to live.

Choose the right real estate agency

When you are in the Netherlands for the first time, we advise you to consult a housing agency. If you do so, avoiding pitfalls will be much easier. A reliable housing agency knows all about the market, the town, the price-quality ratio and is in a good position to negotiate with owners for you to enter into a satisfactory housing contract.

It is also a housing agent’s task to prevent you from ending up into an illegal property or illegal housing conditions. Fantastic deals are usually ‘too good to be true’, as you know.

There are plenty of nasty stories!

When finding a living space there is little point in registering with several housing agencies. Chances are that you will be are offered the same properties by different agencies. After all, all the housing agencies fish in the same pond for listings through the Internet and a mutual exchange system. Calm and personal attention is much more important for you in finding a suitable place to live than an overdose of properties offered from all sides. Only when you are really dissatisfied with the number or types of properties you are offered would we advise you to call in another agency.

That’s why we advise you to choose only one housing agency. Let it do the searching. Be prepared to spend time on five to seven viewings and be prepared to make a quick decision and move within three weeks.

Which housing estate should you choose?

Picking the right one can be difficult. On the Internet you will find plenty of agencies. Opt for an agency which specialises in the market for expats and has experience of helping foreign employees of companies. There are estate agents who do all kinds of things. Their focus is predominantly on working for Dutch customers and on selling and buying properties. This is a different market altogether and these agents are less acquainted with the needs of expats looking for a place to rent.

An agency presenting itself as being experienced should have not only a website in English but also all the necessary documents in English. Apart from this, it should offer an adequate number of listings through its website and represent sufficient owners. Finally, such an agency should be transparent about costs.

Searching for a suitable place to live

Fine. So you have embarked on your search, now that you chosen an agency and have some idea of the amount of money you can spend on the rent. But your budget is only the beginning of your search. You also have to decide where you want to live, in which part of the city and which particular requirements your living place should ideally meet.

How many bedrooms do you need, should it be a ground-floor apartment, furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished, modern or classic, what about the distance to your work, should there be a store room or a box for your bike, or a parking place, how about pets, paying the gas, water and electricity bills yourself or not, are you afraid of mice?

The more specific you are about your wishes, the smaller the risk of viewing properties that do not meet your requirements, and thus the risk of wasting time, for you as well as for us.

After your registration we will contact you to discuss your wishes and go over the listings. Next we will, in consultation with you, organise and plan a route to view all the properties suitable for you.

The costs

Once you have found a home you will have to fork out quite a hefty amount of money! Thetotal could even amount to three or four months’ rent!! This sum would, however, include a one or two months’ security deposit, which will be repaid to you when the rent period expires and you leave the property. The balance of the amount consists of the rent for the first month and the commission of the estate agency for finding you a home. Sometimes, however, when the agency has not really conducted a search for you, you are obliged to pay the costs of drawing up a contract only.

If you have not yet opened a bank account or if your balance is not yet sufficient, the best thing to do would be asking your employer to pay the costs of finding a property, or to advance the security deposit … or perhaps to pay all the costs.


Let’s say that you need an apartment as per 1 November. This would mean that the viewings should take in the three weeks before that date. It would make no sense searching if the commencement date is not until 1 November.

An attractive apartment has usually not been on the market for a long time. Quite often you view an apartment which is still occupied, which would mean that you have to ignore the mess of the sitting tenant. This could be difficult and would require some imagination. Ask someone to accompany you during the viewings to help you see through the mess!

Rents in Amsterdam

 Although no guarantees can be derived from the amounts stated below they can be seen as guidelines for rents in Amsterdam.

  • Studio: open kitchen, 40-55 m2
    • near Amsterdam Centre: (+/-) EUR 900-1,200
    • outskirts of city: (+/-) EUR 800-1,000
  • One-bedroom apartment: open/separate kitchen, 55 -75 m2
    • near Amsterdam Centre: (=/-) EUR 1,200-1,500
    • outskirts of city: (=/-) EUR 1,000-1,200
  • Two-bedroom apartment: open/separate kitchen, 70-90 m2
    • near Amsterdam Centre: (=/-) EUR 1,500-1,800
    • outskirts of city: EUR: (=/-) 1,200-1,500

The negotiations  

 The best thing to do is having the housing agency which has found you the property negotiate about the definitive rent. There is usually some room for bargaining about the rent asked. If there is no room, you could ask for some complementary things for the apartment to be provided, such as an extra lamp, an extra bed or curtains. Whatever the outcome of your negotiations, put it in writing! After having agreed to the deal, you can’t renegotiate!

When the agreements have been put on paper, read the tenancy agreement carefully, make the down-payment and ask for a receipt.

Repayment of the security deposit

 Of course, you want to be repaid the deposit! But you will only get it back if you take proper care of the property. See to it that, during your rental period in the property, you have things that are damaged repaired and have minor repairs carried out. When things get broken or damaged, always inform the owner about this in writing. Possibly the owner himself wants to carry out repairs, if any. Keep the property clean. If you lack time to clean it yourself, ask a professional cleaning lady to come in once a fortnight and spend some three hours cleaning. This way you will not be faced with unpleasant bickering about the deposit when you leave. We always advise renters to document the apartment as much as possible at the beginning of the rental period. Take pictures when checking in or have them made to reduce nasty arguing to a minimum at the end of the rent.

When the property is inspected at the end of your rental period, ask your estate agent to be present. Thus there will be someone with you to look after your interests. The agent will put everything on paper and will have it signed by you as well as the owner. But do remember that the costs of repairs, if any, or cleaning, if necessary, will be deducted from your security deposit.

If the security deposit is not paid back in time, do something about it and don’t let things slide. If necessary, ask your estate agent to mediate. They usually know the owner. In the worst case you will have to start a legal action to reclaim the deposit. But this situation hardly ever occurs.