The Dutch housing system explained
The Netherlands has many kinds of rental types, the two main ones are social housing and private sector housing.
Social housing is (relatively) affordable housing meant for people with lower incomes. The accommodations are owned by social housing organisations (often referred to as corporations). There are long waiting lists for social housing in the Netherlands; currently this is around 15 years, but there are steps you can take to secure social housing faster. The social housing system works with a point system, the more points you have, the higher your chances are of getting social housing. You get one point for every year that you are registered and one point if you react to four houses each month. Meaning that people who are actively searching for housing have higher chances of receiving social housing. You can apply for social housing for Amsterdam and the surrounding areas on Woningnet Amsterdam. Please note that your income must be below the income threshold for social housing.
Once you are in social housing, you can apply for a housing allowance (a state contribution to your rent). Some conditions must be met in order to receive a housing allowance. The UvA has no influence on the outcome of your housing allowance application.
Private sector housing
This is non-subsidised housing, privately owned by housing organisations or individuals (also called free sector housing). There is less regulation of private sector housing when it comes to rents and services. Private sector housing organisations have their own terms and conditions for selecting tenants. Often they have income requirements: prospective tenants are required to show proof of a monthly income that is 3.5 or 4 times the rent.
For private sector housing it is not possible to receive a housing allowance. The following websites are useful for finding rental accommodations in or outside Amsterdam:
- Amsterdam Housing
Sign up for rooms, both first come first serve & lottery. However, most apartments require a minimum income to apply.
Available in Dutch only
- MVA Expat Broker
- Our Domain
Offers furnished studios or 2-person apartments. Sign up to get notified when apartments become available.
Monthly subscription packages cost between €16,65 - €29,95 a month.
A housing agency for mostly young people. Some locations are exclusively for students.
- The Social Hub
Offers fully furnished hotel-like studios with private bathroom and shared kitchen.
- Urban Short Stay
Mostly for PhD candidates and most apartment advertisements require a minimum income to apply.
- Xpat Rentals
Other rental types
If you are looking for temporary housing then anti-squad might be good option for you. The advantage is that it is usually quite cheap. The disadvantage is that your contract can be terminated at any time so your housing situation is very unsecure. If you are interested in anti-squad renting check out these websites:
If you are a PHD candidate then you are considered an employee, however most student housing organisations are still available to you. The UvA Student Housing website has a lot of good tips and tricks on how to find student housing.
Subletting is a very common and useful way of getting temporary housing. Facebook groups are the most common way of finding sublets. However they are also used for widespread scams. Later on this page there is more info on how to avoid scams, please read it carefully. Subletting websites:
You can create a free profile to search and respond to rental housing listings. You can also sign up for “Housemate Connect”, a platform where you can find other people looking for housing and start looking for housing together.
- Hospi Housing
Free platform where international students can find a Dutch home at local hosts & guest families. It provides you with a soft landing and it is the perfect way to experience the Dutch culture and language.
Connects students with rooms, studios and apartments. Users can create a profile listing their specifications to receive email alerts on relevant properties.
Offers rooms. However, a fee might be required to apply for rooms.
Offers a large number of rooms. You need to have a personal profile to respond to room adverts. They charge a fee for membership (Premium Membership 1 month: €19,95).
Another platform with housing listings, but only available in Dutch.
Offers a large number of rooms. Searching the site and responding to ads is free.
UvA Staff Housing manages a mailing list where UvA colleagues and individuals connected with the University can advertise their privately owned accommodation for subletting to other UvA employees. The homeowner will provide you directly with more information and the terms and conditions for subletting. If you would like to receive these announcements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for accommodation longer than 1 month, but shorter than 1 year, then following short-stay accommodation companies might be a good fit for you.
- Hotel Casa
- Hotel Jansen
An all-inclusive hotel aimed at short-stay accommodation for students and young professionals from all over the world. Fully furnished rooms with shared kitchen.
- Hotel Le Coin
- The Social Hub
We do not have ‘discount codes’ for the Social Hub.
Perhaps you only need to stay in Amsterdam for a few days or you are in between housing. In this case there are a lot of good temporary options, such as hostels and hotels. See below a selection of the many options:
Amsterdam Noord (5 minutes by free ferry from central station)
- Generator Hostel
- Hans Brinker Hostel
- Hostel Annemarie
- Hostel Sarphati
- Hostel Uptown
3 locations in Amsterdam
- Train Lodge
Amsterdam-West, near train station Sloterdijk
- Wimdu / AirBnB
Online platforms with a wide range of private accommodation to rent temporarily in Amsterdam. Private parties offer rooms or whole apartments for short term rent. Please note: no registration at the municipality possible!
- Wow Amsterdam
- Xplore hostel
- Youth Hostel Leidseplein
The Netherlands is bigger than Amsterdam
The Netherlands is a small country and the public transport is generally quite good. Therefore living outside of Amsterdam and making a commute to work is considered a very viable option. So when searching for housing please also look at cities and villages outside of Amsterdam, such as Utrecht, Haarlem, Hoofddorp, Almere, Amstelveen, Zaandam, Purmerend, Weesp, Hilversum or Diemen. Each city and region has their own social housing system, applying for multiple social housing websites increases your chances of finding housing.
- If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not transfer money before a viewing (especially via Western Union or PayPal). Always check the apartment and make sure the keys work, before handing over large amounts of money. If you cannot do this yourself, again, see if you can ask someone else to help.
- Research advertised photos via google reverse image search.
- Google the landlord and address. It is always good to read some reviews. And look for a KvK-number (check their registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce)
- Always ask for a rental contract/agreement. That gives you more security.
- Be wary of illegal fees. Examples of illegal fees are: agency fees, disproportionally high administration fees or contract fees. A deposit of one or two months’ rent is usually required. This deposit is refunded if you leave the property in good condition.
- Be aware of illegal subletting as this may affect your rights as a tenant.
- If in doubt, check your rights. The support agency !Woon is specialized in providing legal advice.
Before signing a tenancy agreement in The Netherlands
- Ask a Dutch colleague to help you understand the tenancy agreement, so that you know the terms by which you will be legally bound.
- Check the dates carefully on the tenancy agreement before signing.
- In most cases, you cannot terminate your rental agreement in the first 12 months. After 12 months, termination is possible with one month's notice.
- You may be required to pay a refundable deposit of up to two months’ rent.
- If possible, pay everything through bank transfers. If your landlord prefers payment in cash, think twice before accepting, as it might be a scam. Always request a receipt for cash payments.