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Housing in the Netherlands

Choosing where to live can be a headache, adventure or nightmare – depending on your feelings about the subject. Fact of the matter is though, finding a place to live when you are unfamiliar not only with ‘norms’ but also neighbourhoods/cities can be a puzzle indeed. Procedures will differ, information could be in Dutch, space – as a concept – may well vary from your own norms and expectations. Taken together, with the need to feel settled, and have a place to call home as soon as possible makes for a complicated mix. Ideally of course, one would have time to explore, find the right location (city/neighbourhood) – which suits you best – and then make a decision. This is not always possible though, as we know too well. Besides asking people you meet, colleagues, for their input – the answers to some basic questions will also help.

It is important to keep in mind though, that the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe with almost 400 people per square kilometre. Due to the limited amount of space, houses at the lower and middle income end of the market tend to be fairly compact out of necessity. How you see this depends on your experience in your own home country, or previous country of residence. Where ever you come from, it is essential to realise that the available housing will probably not be the same as you have experienced before. And, that distances between cities are not as large as you may psychologically expect them to be. Transpose a map of London over the Netherlands, and all of a sudden Amsterdam does not sound so far from The Hague.

What to expect?

Just a few things:

  • Houses are smaller and more compact. However Dutch builders are skilled in maximising use of space
  • One bathroom is the norm. Showers are more common than bath tubs
  • Dining rooms are a luxury. Open kitchens or shared living/dining rooms are the norm
  • Kitchens generally have four gas-ring stoves with a microwave and fridge. Ovens are not always standard
  • Washing machines and dryers are often located in a kitchen or bathroom
  • Garages tend to be used as storage space
  • Parking is often on the street, and in many neighbourhoods require a permit