How to start your search, tips & tricks

Finding housing in Utrecht can be difficult and has its own typicalities. Click on the topic for important things to be aware of during your search and tips and tricks on how to deal with this, or scroll down to read all information. 

If you have any questions during your search please do not hesitate to contact us.

UU 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 and search on the private housing market on their own. Make sure to anticipate that you might not be able to book via this programme and consider other options before booking opens.

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When to start your search

Due to the high demand in and around Utrecht, 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. An added difficulty can be that the housemates, but also the landlord, will usually want to meet with you during (group) viewings.

Tips & tricks:

  • Arrive early: Consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend viewings in person
  • 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
  • Other areas: Increase your chances by including surrounding towns and cities 

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Legal residence & city registration

If you are staying for more than four months in the Netherlands, you are legally required to go to the city council and register as a new resident of the town in which you are living. This is a mandatory procedure irrespective of your nationality or purpose of stay. If you are moving within the Netherlands, you must also inform your (new) municipality.

Not all landlords allow registration. This may be, for example, because they do not have the correct permit to rent out the accommodation. You require a registration with the municipality on a legal address, documented by a proof of tenancy such as a rental agreement, for access to health care, a General Physician, and the Dutch vaccination programme. Because of this it is very important to search for legal housing where registration is possible. Click here for more information on the importance of City Registration.

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How to avoid scams and fake offers

Some people on the private market will unfortunately try to take advantage of the high demand for housing in and around Utrecht. 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 us for advice.

Red flags:

  • No Dutch: they usually post in English on platforms and social media while abroad
  • No viewing: 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 or central
  • No clear answers: They may seem overly nice, ignore your questions, and use text-like sentences
  • Forged data: They use photos from other ads, use a stolen identity, and edit standard rental contracts 
  • Money 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 (like Airbnb), or ask you to continue conversation outside the (paid) platform

Tips & tricks:

  • No payments: If you intend to enter into an agreement with a private person, do not make any unsecure payments in advance!
  • Arrange viewing: Set up a meeting and view the room in person or via video chat
  • Research the offer: Try to make sure that the agency, the address, and landlord are legitimate (Google search, check the address in the Dutch Land Registry Database, or reversed image search)
  • Include Dutch ads: Do not limit yourself to English ads, but also include Dutch ads in your search. English ads have a higher risk of being a scam. 
  • Contact us: Do not hesitate to contact us for advice if reliability is questionable

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Safe online payment

Unfortunately, scammers often target internationals who cannot yet visit the room. If you intend to enter into an agreement with a private person, we advise you not to make unsecure payments. If you are still looking to transfer advanced payments, know that the platform Kamernet offers 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 2.5% handling fee. 

Even if you found your room on a different platform or page you can still use Kamernet's secured transfer service. Contact Kamernet if you have any further questions on how this works.

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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. 

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Using 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. 

Tips & tricks:

  • Put it 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, join a student organisation, apply for a mentor programme (like Buddy go Dutch), and/or join ESN Utrecht 

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Responding to a housing offer

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.

Tips & tricks

  • Spread your chances: Keep responding to numerous ads, don’t be too picky
  • 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
  • Broaden your search: Make sure to also include surrounding towns and cities
  • Multiple platforms: Do not limit yourself to just one or two housing websites but subscribe and regularly check multiple sites and pages

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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.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Arrive early: Consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend viewings in person
  • Video chat: Suggest to attend viewings via video chat if you are still abroad
  • Keep going: Do not stop your search for housing once you managed to arrange one or two viewings. Instead, aim to arrange several
  • Be prepared: Prepare yourself for a ‘hospiteeravond’. You can find some dos and don’ts on this blog by the popular housing platform Kamernet

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Searching with a group of friends

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. Besides looking with a group, make sure to also continue your search for accommodation on your own.

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Average housing costs

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. 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.

Tips & tricks:

  • Be realistic: Calculate a realistic housing budget in adcance 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 

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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.

Tips & tricks:

  • Ask tennant: Ask the previous tenant if they want to sell on items to you
  • Rent: Rent your furniture from a specialised company like Student Furniture 
  • Thrift shops: Buy furniture in one of the many second hand shops in or around Utrecht ('kringloopwinkel' in Dutch)
  • Online deals: Search for furniture deals on the trade platform Marktplaats
  • Social network: Post an ad or respond to listings on Facebook communities of flats and neighbourhoods

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