23 January 2023, The Netherlands – We see a trend in the past years that rental prices are skyrocketing together with inflation. Meanwhile, COVID restrictions are lifted and the demand for housing has grown only more. What does this mean for expats coming to The Netherlands that are looking for their new home away from home?
As The Netherlands is a socially liberal country, there is a division in the rental properties: they fall either under social housing or are part of the free sector. With a highly skilled migrant permit, the income threshold for social housing is surpassed, meaning that the home search must focus on the available houses within the free sector (8% of the current residential properties in the Netherlands).
Fear not, because the market is so overheated, new properties become available every day! It is important to move quick and know what you want! Below some tips to prepare for a successful and efficient home search.
- Adjust your criteria
Look for the “comfortable-for-now-house”.
There is a high chance that you will not find your absolute dream house in the current market. Instead of looking for the “dream house”, prepare to look for the “comfortable-for-now-house”. Think about what criteria you are willing to compromise on in terms of size, interior, location etc. and the must-haves that you are not willing to compromise on. Depending on these, it can require an increase of your budget. Furthermore, some things are just not common in the Netherlands. Maybe you would like to have an AC in the house, while this is very unusual here. It is important that you secure a house that feels right for now. If you are here for an indefinite period of time, you can always look for something else in a year (or two) when you are more settled in The Netherlands. Then you surely have a better idea and time to secure the dream house, based on your living experiences.
- Flexibility is key
When the owner has a choice, another candidate accepting the terms without any demands, typically is the one to secure the house.
What we notice in our experiences with home searches is that flexibility during the process is very important. In general, there is not much to dictate on the side of the future tenant in terms of viewings. They might be scheduled at an inconvenient time or very last minute, however it is very important that the home search is prioritized and hopefully your employer understands this as well. Furthermore, there is often no negotiation possible on the rental price, and the type or starting date of the contract. Blatantly said: when the owner has a choice, another candidate accepting the terms without any demands, typically is the one to secure the house. This is not to say that you have to accept everything. For instance, if something is very old or broken in the house this should be addressed to the property manager or the owner to either remove, repair or replace.
- Avoid comparison
It is good to have clear criteria and understand the differences between the standards in your home country versus the possibilities in The Netherlands.
I still remember one of my intake calls with an international professional named Matthew, who told me that he was “not looking for a big house, just something small.” He knew that upholding the same standards of his current house would complicate his home search, however he did not realize his expectations were rather subjective. When I followed-up to ask what he considered to be a ‘small’ house, he replied: “Well, let’s say I can settle for something around 120 square meters!” The reality however is that a house this size is considered quite spacious in the Netherlands, certainly in the Randstad area (the cities and regions around Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht). This is a good example to illustrate how important it is not to compare your current living situation with your future house in The Netherlands, to avoid disappointment. Maybe you are browsing Funda and Pararius on which you see that the average rental price here is double, when compared to your current country. In any case, it is good to have clear criteria and understand the differences between the standards in your home country versus the possibilities in The Netherlands.
- Stay realistic
Sometimes we support international professionals who have previous experience of living in The Netherlands or have acquaintances who moved to The Netherlands some years ago. Unfortunately, the situation was very different in the past. The rental prices have increased drastically over the past years and it is not realistic to have same market expectations from back then. This often comes as a surprise, even for locals who are challenged now as well with the current situation. The market is quite transparent through Funda and Pararius, making it on one hand good to see what is available for which prices. On the other hand, not all listings are a correct representation of the current situation (e.g. some listings are old, others are ads for model homes still being built, photos are with furniture while the house is rented out as unfurnished or the description mentions a housing permit requirement).
- Trust your relocation consultant/rental agent
We keep your best interest in mind making sure that you do not end up having regrets.
PIRGROUP’s team is happy to support with every step of the way in your home search: from the intake call where we assess the home search criteria to the check-in where our field consultants support to represent the tenant’s interest. In all steps of the way, we keep your best interest in mind making sure that you do not end up having regrets. When we work with our trusted rental agents the aim is to secure the most suitable house. For us it is best to have as much information as possible on your wishes, motive and background so that we can keep all these factors in mind during the home search. It is common that these criteria change overtime, therefore please flag this to us timely so we can adjust our approach. We hope that you are comfortable being transparent and putting your trust in us to work together on your home search!
To conclude: there is some good news on the horizon. In the last years the Dutch government has started to protect tenants renting in the free sector. Firstly with the implementation of a policy ruling a max. 3.3% rent increase in 2022 (2.3% CPI + 1%). Since this is connected to inflation, starting from this year (2023) the max. rent increase of 4.1% is based on the average salary increase (3.1% +1%) to further protect tenants renting in the free sector (instead of raising with the inflation of 9.7% from last year).
By Stella van Mever, Relocation Consultant at PIRGROUP The Netherlands