How to start your search, tips & tricks
Finding housing in Utrecht is extremely difficult and has its own typicalities. Below you can find tips and tricks on how to deal with this, how to get started and important matters to keep in mind.
Important to know
Reserved Accommodation Programme
Utrecht University reserves a limited number of furnished rooms and studios with reliable housing providers for eligible new international students. This is called the Reserved Accommodation Programme. The accommodation part of this programme is rented out on a first come, first served basis.
Because this programme does not guarantee housing, many students do not find housing this way. Make sure to anticipate that you might not be able to book via this programme and consider other options before booking opens.
What if I don't find housing?
Arriving in a foreign country without having arranged a place to stay can lead to a very stressful situation. Our students tell us that it is very difficult to keep putting time and effort into their search for housing once they have started their studies. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide but this is not a process we desire our students to go through. We therefore advise you to reconsider your enrolment if you haven’t found housing on time before the start of your studies in Utrecht.
Please note that our education is on-campus by default and your attendance is required. That is why it is not possible to study for your bachelor’s or master’s degree online from abroad. Please see below for more information on practical matters regarding cancellation or deferral of your studies.
Avoid scams and fake offers
Some people on the private market will unfortunately try to take advantage of the high demand for housing. They advertise fake offers and aim to scam you. If you are in doubt about the reliability of an offer please do not hesitate to contact Student Services for housing advice.
They don't speak Dutch: they usually post in English on platforms and social media
No viewing option: They cannot show you the room via live video for various reasons
Too good to be true: They offer you a room that seams very cheap and/or central
No clear answers: They may seem overly nice, ignore your questions, and use text-like sentences
Fake information: They use photos from other ads, a stolen identity, and standard rental contracts
Transfer requests: They will ask you to transfer money, often via anonymous money transferring services, before a viewing
Website spoofing: They may use fake websites that are designed to look like familiar websites, or ask you to continue conversation outside the (paid) platform.
Searching online and safety
Below you can find some safety measures you should take in account when you are searching for housing online:
Payment: If you intend to enter into an agreement with a private person, we advise you not to make any unsecure payments in advance. If you are still looking to transfer advanced payments, know that some platforms such as Kamernet offer a secured payment service. This way your money is kept safe on a server, until after you have received the key. Kamernet offers this service for a small handling fee.
Arrange a viewing: Set up a meeting and view the room in person or via video chat. If you do not live too far away you could consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend viewings in person. However know that arriving in a foreign country without having arranged a place to stay can lead to a very stressful situation and that students tell us that it is very difficult to keep putting time and effort into their search for housing once they have started their studies.
Research the offer: Try to verify that the agency, the address, and landlord are legitimate. When in doubt, don't take the risk.
Include Dutch ads: English ads have a higher risk of being a scam
Contact us: Do not hesitate to contact us for advice if you are in doubt about the reliability
Searching with a group
House or flat sharing is not always allowed due to local regulations. Besides that, most landlords and agencies prefer to rent to a single person or couple, rather than to a group of students. Landlords and agencies will also often desire a proof of income to make sure that you can afford the rent.
Because of these reasons searching with a group does not always work out. Besides looking with a group, make sure to also continue your search for accommodation on your own.
It is a good idea to spread your chances as much as possible and respond to Dutch ads as well. We have composed a list of Dutch housing vocabulary that you may come across in your search.
Furnished and unfurnished housing
Although an increasing number of housing companies offer furnished studio apartments for international expats and students, student rooms with shared facilities are usually unfurnished. It can increase your chances to also include unfurnished accommodation. There are several ways to arrange furniture even with a lower budget.
Ask the previous tennant: They may want to sell items or flooring to you
Rent furniture: You can rent furniture from a specialised company, see the website of Student Furniture
Thrift shops: Buy furniture in one of the many second hand shops in or around Utrecht ('kringloopwinkel' in Dutch), or search for furniture deals on the trade platform Marktplaats
How to get started
Calculate a realistic budget
The average rent in Utrecht is higher than in most other towns and cities in the Netherlands, and may also be higher than in your home country. Besides that, mandatory monthly service costs have seen a steep increase in 2022 due to the energy crisis. It is a good idea to anticipate the average rent for a student room in Utrecht before your arrival as well as the additional costs and fees.
Be realistic: Calculate a realistic housing budget in advance and make sure to include fees, taxes and a deposit
Outside Utrecht: Consider renting a room in neighbouring cities or outside the city centre
Check your rent: Do you think you are currently paying too much? Consider a rental check by Huurteam Utrecht
Start your search early
Finding student housing on your own can take up a lot of time and effort. It is important to take this in consideration and start your search several months prior to your admission.
Arrive early: the housemates, but also the landlord, will usually want to meet with you during (group) viewings. If you do not live too far away you could consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend viewings in person. However know that arriving in a foreign country without having arranged a place to stay can lead to a very stressful situation and that students tell us that it is very difficult to keep putting time and effort into their search for housing once they have started their studies.
Video chat: Suggest to attend viewings via video chat if you are still abroad
Temporary housing: Consider to start off in temporary housing from where you can continue your search to a more permanent place
Responding to housing offers
The number of available rooms and studios may seem vast when you check any housing platform, but there are usually numerous people who respond to each ad. The advertiser commonly selects a number of candidates for a viewing from the respondents, which can be quite competitive. Ads are also not always up to date and the room may already be rented out. Responding to an ad therefore does not mean you automatically get the room.
Custom response: Try to stand out with your message, include a photo if you feel comfortable, and try to adapt your standard message to fit the ad if possible
Use your network
Tenants are often allowed to select a new housemates from their friends and fellow students. Because of this, try to actively build and use your social network.
Put yourself out there: Keep telling people that you are looking for housing and ask friends and peers to keep an eye out for offers
Expand your network: Connect with future UU students on Facebook or join a student organisation. See the overview page for a list of student organisations in Utrecht. Or apply for a mentor programme (like Buddy go Dutch), and/or join ESN Utrecht
Attending a group viewing (hospiteren)
The current tenants will often invite several candidates to a viewing. This is called ‘hospiteren’ or ‘hospiteeravond’ in Dutch. During a viewing, candidates present themselves to the current tenants. They then decide who they prefer to become their new roommate. Most students go through numerous viewings before they successfully find accommodation.
Arrive early: If you do not live too far away you could consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend viewings in person. However know that arriving in a foreign country without having arranged a place to stay can lead to a very stressful situation and that students tell us that it is very difficult to keep putting time and effort into their search for housing once they have started their studies. You could instead suggest to attend viewings via video chat if you are still abroad
Be persistent: Do not stop your search for housing once you managed to arrange one or two viewings. Instead, aim to arrange several
Be prepared: You can find some hospiteert tips from a populair housing platform Kamernet: hospiteer dos and dont's
Register with SSH Long Stay
Besides furnished rooms via the Reserved Accommodation Programme (SSH Short Stay), SSH also offers unfurnished rooms to students with the longest waiting time (SSH Long Stay).
If you plan to stay in Utrecht for more than a year we advice you to register for this type of housing as soon as possible. Read more on SSH Long Stay housing.