Expats headed to Rotterdam will be pleased to know that accommodation in the city offers excellent value for money. Rent is significantly cheaper than in other major cities like Amsterdam and The Hague and makes for a more attractive cost of living. Demand is high, however, and rental prices are rising, so it's best for expats to be prepared to act quickly in case they spot a place they like at a reasonable price.
Types of accommodation in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is famous for its exciting modern architecture, and housing is no exception. From unique designs and architectural landmarks such as the quirky 'cube houses' and buzzing Markthal, to towering apartment blocks and traditional Dutch rowhouses, expats are sure to find something they like.
Expats such as international students on a budget generally opt for house or flat shares in Rotterdam. This involves sharing kitchen facilities and a living room space among multiple tenants but having a private bedroom.
Alternatively, business travellers and expats looking for luxury can find several serviced apartments in Rotterdam. These are fully furnished and equipped with attractive amenities and WiFi.
Most accommodation in Rotterdam comes unfurnished and sometimes even basics such as carpeting and curtains may not be included – this is indicated by the word 'kaal' in rental ads. Fully furnished housing (gemeubileerd) is rarer and more expensive but is often the ideal for expats who aren't settling in the Netherlands for the long term.
Expats looking to furnish their new homes can buy brand new or second-hand furniture, sourcing it locally or abroad, or they can opt to rent furniture for a given period.
Finding accommodation in Rotterdam
In general, the Netherlands is not an easy place for foreigners to find long-term accommodation. This is because the majority of the country's housing is social housing, which is in high demand with years-long waiting lists. In addition, tenants must fall below a certain income bracket to qualify.
Since many expats don't meet these requirements, they are limited to private-sector housing. Again, competition is tough, since only a small percentage of rental houses are privatised – and costs are high.
Expats can search for accommodation using online property portals, such as IamExpat and Pararius, and local newspapers. However, if they don't speak Dutch, the language barrier can be a problem. In this case, it's usually best to hire a real estate agent (makelaar). Some new arrivals employed in Rotterdam enlist the services of a relocation company which can make the house hunt a far less stressful process.
Word-of-mouth is another useful way to find a room or place to stay in Rotterdam, and expats with local contacts, friends and colleagues are advised to reach out to them or use social media platforms to start networking.
Renting accommodation in Rotterdam
Tenancy contracts can seem complicated, but expats hoping to rent in Rotterdam will need to do their research and be aware of all the terms and conditions before making a firm agreement.
Most prospective tenants will need to provide their citizen service number, known as the BSN (burgerservicenummer). Expats may also be asked to provide an employment contract or bank statement.
The type of tenancy contract an expat will sign depends on their preference and duration of stay. Fixed-period rental contracts are for an agreed minimum period, generally six to 12 months. This can include a clause allowing early termination and providing notice of at least one month. Alternatively, a more flexible lease option is an indefinite rental agreement which has no termination date.
In the Netherlands, verbal rental agreements are legally valid, but we recommend signing a written agreement to serve as documentation and evidence in case of dispute or changes to the living situation.
The lease will include all necessary details about renting the particular property, the requirements of the landlord and the housing rules for the tenant. For example, it will stipulate required payment dates, notice periods, pet policies, deposits and utilities.
In Rotterdam, prospective tenants can expect to pay one to three months' worth of rent as a security deposit. This is returned when the rental period terminates, as long as the state of the property remains as it was found.
Before moving in, expats should request an accurate inspection list describing the condition of the property and any furniture. Agents or landlords can then inspect the property in line with these lists when the tenant moves out.
Inclusive rental contracts consist of both the rent and utility fees. However, more often than not, utilities aren't included and tenants need to pay this expense for themselves. Expats should ask their landlords about the relevant electricity, internet and telecommunications providers.
Are you an expat living in Rotterdam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rotterdam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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