So you’ve decided to move to the Netherlands. Congratulations. Now you may have sorted out long-term living arrangements prior to landing here, but if not, I suggest getting to it as quickly as possible. Proof of residence is necessary for pretty much everything you need to do next.

As I found out recently, finding an apartment here is a serious challenge for an expat.

The market is heavily controlled by private housing agencies that require a commission and administration fees. Prepare to pay three or four month’s rent in one go. You will be required to pay your first month rent, a deposit of one or two month’s rent, and one month commission to the rental agent (plus 21% taxes and about €200 in administration fees).

So buckle up and do the math… As an example, for a rent of €850, you will have to come up with around €3000 before you receive the keys to your new home.

You may also want to keep in mind that your apartment might be huur exclusief, which means you will have to pay your own GWE (Gas, Water, Electricity) bills and it can either be fully furnished (gemeubileerd), partly furnished (gestoffeerd) or unfurnished (kaal).

To search for housing options, have a look at Funda ( Dutch only website), Select A House, or Pararius, which also has a nice, very useful app.

Of course, you can also rent a room or house share, but I can’t help there as that was not an option I was interested in for myself.

Now, if you’ve skipped to the bottom of this post to see my checklist, here it is:

1. Is the apartment furnished, partly furnished or unfurnished?
2. Is the rent all-inclusive? Meaning would you be responsible for paying the GWE (gas, water, electricity) or will the landlord take care of that.
3. How much is the deposit? The deposit is usually one or two month’s rent, but I have also seen a three month deposit.
4. Will you have to pay the municipal taxes for the apartment or will the owner be responsible?
5. Is there Wi-Fi in the apartment? I strongly advise you to insist that your landlord takes care of that prior to your move. Even if it will increase your rent with the amount of internet cost.
6. Will you receive a signed copy of the contract in English? If not, I suggest you have it officially translated or at least go over it with a Dutch-speaking person.
7. Does the apartment have its own parking space? You might not have a car, but if the apartment owns a parking space, you may rent it yourself to someone.
8. Are pets allowed in the apartment? Having a cat or a dog may bring changes to the rental agreement, such as perhaps a higher deposit.
9. Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs of the house: the tenant or the landlord? As a tenant, you are responsible for small, inexpensive repairs that don’t require specialist skills, such as replacing your own light bulbs or similar. You must, however, notify the landlord in case of any larger maintenance issues and the landlord will responsible for having them repaired. If, for example, your washing machine breaks because it is old and you pay for the repairs yourself, the landlord will have to refund these costs. However, should it break because of your own mistake, then you are responsible to get it repaired.
10. What are the conditions of terminating the rental agreement? This is something most expats forget about. You may plan to stay here forever but you never know what happens and you might need to relocate. I advise you to ask your rental agent about having a clause in the contract that covers your move to a new country or so. This is called a diplomatic cause and if you mention it to your agent, he will know what you are referring to.

One thing I wish I knew is that the real estate agent can negotiate the rent for you. He might or might not be able to lower the landlord’s asking price, but you don’t lose anything by trying.

I also strongly advise you to get a local friend to tell you about all the hidden costs, to avoid surprises.

I hope you have found this information useful and if you have other tips and tricks about housing in the Netherlands, let me know in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read the following: I Am Expat.