9 kooky things about renting in the Netherlands (2023)

Finding a home to rent in a foreign country can feel like an especially daunting task.

When it comes to huren (renting) in the Netherlands, there are many types of accommodation to choose from, despite the ongoing housing shortage.

Whether you want to rent a studio, live in a cosy shared flat, or join in the fun of a big student house, there is something for almost everyone in the Netherlands.

However, there are some truly odd Dutch traditions, and unexpected administration unique to the Dutch renting culture.

Whether you are signed up to 20 Facebook groups or are regularly refreshing Kamernet, here’s how to prepare for the culture shock when trying to find the perfect rental in the Netherlands.

1. Hospiteeravond in the Netherlands: speed dating for housemates

Want to feel insecure about how well you make a first impression? Then a hospiteeravond is for you!

Many cultures are used to the concept of an open house, but the Dutch take this to a whole new level — just for finding a new roommate!

At a hospiteeravond, everyone interested in the room turns up with a stash of alcohol and gives it their all to impress the current housemates — by invitation only, of course.

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If you’re brave enough to show up, the hosts aren’t afraid to ask you some, um, interesting questions.

Don’t be surprised if you get asked, “what kind of road sign are you?” or “If you had to be a fruit, which one would you be?”. Yep, it’s just as awkward as it sounds.

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2. No internationals/Dutch speaking, only in Dutch rentals

So you’ve found a great room in a beautiful flat within your price range through a Facebook group. Great! But a quick scroll down reveals the dreaded words: “No internationals” or “Dutch speaking only.”

Let’s be honest: labelling a post with “No internationals” is exclusive and can be perceived as a little xenophobic. After all, what if you’re an international that is fluent in Dutch?

The Dutch are officially the best non-native English speakers in the world, so you’d think they wouldn’t mind switching languages over lunch.

READ MORE | ‘No internationals’, a tale of exclusion in the Dutch housing market

On the other hand, it’s understandable that Dutch natives want to speak their mother tongue in their own homes. The Dutch already fear the loss of their language in the wake of globalisation.

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Maybe this is another example of Dutch directness coming into practice. At least you won’t waste your time responding to people that will only end up ghosting you. 💁

3. Ongemublieerd and kaal: bare as a baby’s bottom

When the Dutch say unfurnished, they mean unfurnished! Don’t be surprised if you walk into your new Dutch rental to find that it doesn’t have any curtains, floorboards, or even kitchen appliances.

Even if you view the property with all these items, the current tenants may strip it back to its original state when they leave.

Often, you can come to an agreement and buy any necessary furnishing from the previous tenant, but you will have to arrange this between yourselves.

So if the rent sounds cheap, check the small print!

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Quick Dutch language guide for renting

DutchEnglishWhat it means
GemeubileerdFurnishedBasic furniture is included, and perhaps some other amenities (plates, pots, glasses, etc.)
OngemeubileerdUnfurnishedJust the apartment, generally with flooring, curtains, and lights present (but not always, so double-check!)
GestoffeerdUpholsteredCurtains, lights, and flooring, but no furniture.
KaalBaldNo flooring, curtains, lights, or furniture. Walls may be painted.

4. Antikraak: how the Dutch keep squatters out

Looking to rent for the short term and wouldn’t mind living in a former bank or theatre? Antikraak could be the answer.

It translates to ‘anti-squatting’ and pretty much does what it says on the tin — stops people from illegally squatting.

The idea is you are basically a legal, tidy squatter, paying a reduced rent to keep the water running and preventing the property from being vandalised.

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It isn’t the best option if you’re looking to rent for the long term — as they can boot you out with as little as two weeks’ notice.

But there’s a wide range of spaces available, from churches to office blocks and even unused schools. 🏢

5. Strict rules on maximum registered residents

If you and your partner want to rent a two-bed house, don’t bank on using it as a side hustle by renting out other rooms.

In the Netherlands, all residents are required to register at an address — and municipalities place strict limits on how many people can register at each property.

That means that even if you rent a house that’s bigger than you need, you can’t (legally) rent out a room to another student. Yep, there goes that holiday fund.

6. Huurtoeslag: the Dutch government helping to pay your rent

Sometimes it feels like there are a lot of costs involved in moving to the Netherlands. From health insurance and registration fees, to having to pay for a bank account (it’s only €0.01 a month, but I’m still bitter).

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But, thanks to the Dutch social care system, there is help out there for those on a tight budget — even with your rent.

Huurtoeslag is a Dutch housing benefit and is available to anyone on a low income.

There are some specific criteria, but even expats are eligible for the allowance! Good to know the Dutch government’s got your back! You can find out if you’re eligible on the government tax website.

7. Agency fees: what am I paying for?

There are pros and cons to using real estate agencies to find a place to stay in the Netherlands.

To start, you are less likely to be vetted by the current housemates in a dreaded hospiteeravond. However, you often have to pay an agency fee — before you find a house that you want to apply for.

These fees are required for you to view the property and can range from less than €50 for a whole year to a few hundred. The legality of this is a grey area, but that doesn’t stop agencies from charging whatever they like.

READ MORE | Cheap housing in the Netherlands: 5 top tips for finding your Dutch home

The only exception to crazy Dutch real estate agency fees is a sleutelgeld. This is a payment separate from the deposit, also known as a “key fee.”

It may be worded in the contract as a fee to “release your key” or as a “takeover fee”. This is illegal.

If you have been asked to pay this by an agent, landlord, or tenant, you can get free legal advice from agencies such as !Woon or Juridisch Loket. Question any charges that aren’t clearly explained. Know your rights!

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8. Rental scammers in the Netherlands

In an ideal world, everyone would be honest, and decent, and not try to scam you. Unfortunately, there are those out there who try to take advantage of your desperate need for a Dutch house (thanks, housing crisis).

Rental scammers are especially common in the Netherlands. There are scammers hiding in every nook and cranny of Facebook rental listings but paid websites like Kamernet and Pararius also aren’t immune.

Here are some hard and fast rules to avoid getting scammed:

  • Don’t sign a contract before you have viewed the property, in person or virtually.
  • NEVER give over a deposit before signing a contract and (preferably) receiving the keys.
  • Be suspicious of everyone — but especially those who refuse to give you a tour of the property.

9. Rental deposits (and landlords keeping them)

Deposits are the bane of a renter’s life. Sometimes it feels like a chunk of money you will never see as it bounces from one landlord to the next. But deposits can come at a particularly hefty price in the Netherlands.

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It can be a lot of money, sometimes as much as three months’ rent — the most landlords and rental agencies are allowed to ask for. You sure as hell want that back!

READ MORE: Rental deposits in the Netherlands: how to get your cash back

The Dutch are known for being frugal, which means landlords in the Netherlands can be exceptionally stingy when it comes to returning your extortionate deposit.

In theory, it shouldn’t be hard to get your deposit back, but some landlords like to drag their feet. They cannot keep your deposit for general wear and tear but don’t expect to get it back if you’ve punched a hole in the wall.

Have you experienced any of these Dutch oddities when renting? Or got any tips about finding a house in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in February 2021, and was fully updated in May 2023 for your reading pleasure.

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What are 5 things the Netherlands are famous for? ›

The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it's packed with world famous icons. Discover our bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and millions of bicycles.

What are 3 interesting facts about the Netherlands? ›

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world. More sheep than people live on the Wadden Island of Texel. Amsterdam is built entirely on piles and has 1200 bridges. The Netherlands has the highest museum density in the world.

Why is rent so high in Netherlands? ›

Supply and demand: 3 reasons rents are on the rise

De Groot says that many hopeful house hunters fall short of buying a home due to the high prices in that sector. Nevertheless, they also earn too much for social housing and hence end up in private sector rentals — boosting the demand in an already pressed market.

What is so great about living in the Netherlands? ›

The Netherlands is known for promoting a healthy work-life balance. Research shows only around 0.3% of employees work long hours, much lower than the international average of 10%. The same study showed that full-time workers in the Netherlands dedicate over 60% of their day to personal care and leisure time.

What is typical Dutch behavior? ›

Dutch people are usually very open, friendly and welcoming. In the Netherlands, only parents and children live together. In general, they do not live with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. During meals, Dutch families usually share their adventures of the day.

What are the Dutch people known for? ›

Originally the Dutch are known for their cheese and tulips. Every year, the Netherlands exports approximately 600 million kilos of cheese and more than 5 billion Euros worth of flowers and plants.

What is Netherlands also known for? ›

The Netherlands is a densely populated and geographically low-lying country and is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), dikes, tulips, bicycles and social tolerance.

What is the Netherlands proud of? ›

Dutch painting and crafts are world renowned, and Dutch painters are among the greatest the world has ever known. The Dutch themselves take great pride in their cultural heritage, and the government is heavily involved in subsidizing the arts, while abjuring direct artistic control of cultural enterprises.

What is interesting about Dutch? ›

dutch is the third most widely-spoken germanic language, after english and german. In terms of grammar and pronunciation, Dutch is sometimes said to be between English and German. Since Dutch is in the same family as English, it's an easy language to learn. Well, it's easier than Russian, at least.

What is the problem with housing in Netherlands? ›

From 2015 to 2021, average household disposable income increased by 25%, but house prices rocketed by 63%, fuelled by low interest and a national shortage of 390,000 homes. By the peak of its housing boom last year, houses in hotspots had increased by more than 130% since the end of 2013.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Netherlands? ›

The cost of living in the Netherlands is believed to be around 800-1000 Euros per month, including food, rent, transportation, books, and other expenses.

What is the average rent in the Netherlands? ›

Rent may vary from 500 euros for a single room to over 2.500 euros per month for an apartment in the centre of Amsterdam. The rent consists of two parts, the basic rent and the service charges.

What do the Dutch eat for dinner? ›

Dutch dinner

The Dutch eat relatively early starting from 5 to 7 p.m., families mostly eat together around the dinner table. A typical Dutch dinner meal consists of potatoes, meat and vegetables, served with gravy. Dinner is often followed by a dessert in the form of yogurt or coffee.

How do Dutch guys date? ›

When it comes to dating, the Dutch like to keep things casual and let things progress naturally. And just like anything else in life, they prefer to approach their romantic pursuits with a sense of practicality.

Are the Dutch a tall race? ›

A land of giants, the Netherlands is the loftiest nation on Earth: the average height of a Dutch man is 182.5cm; a Dutch woman 168.7cm.

Can Americans move to the Netherlands? ›

You do not need a visa, residence permit or work permit. You do, however, need a valid passport or identity document. You may also work in the Netherlands if you have a valid residence permit subject to temporary or non-temporary humanitarian grounds.

Can Americans retire in the Netherlands? ›

This means you will need to apply for a visa and residence permit before moving to the Netherlands. You need to have lived and worked in the Netherlands for five years before you can gain permanent residency. This goes for both EU/EFTA and third-country citizens.

What is considered rich in Netherlands? ›

Four out of every 10 people considered rich in the Netherlands have inherited their wealth, according to a survey commissioned by ABN Amro MeesPierson, the Telegraaf reported on Friday. The rich are defined as those with with a minimum of €500,000 of disposable assets.

How do Dutch people flirt? ›

Hating pomp and flattery, the Dutch like to add "-je" to their words and make them sound smaller, cuter, more intimate and gezellig. - a rhetorical question such as lekker weertje?, lekker zonnetje?, leuk terrasje?

What are Dutch physical traits? ›

The Dutch generally have longer and broader face structures compared to other Europeans, such as the British. Their noses are also shorter and are slightly turned up at the tip. However, as with any group or ethnicity, these are often generalizations and do not apply to the whole population.

What is the Dutch mindset? ›

Dutch people do not like to make detailed agreements or long-term plans. They prefer to simply start working together and let things develop. This requires much closer coordination and the willingness to adjust course if necessary.

What are Dutch values? ›

In the Netherlands, freedom, equality and solidarity play a central role. The values result in rights which you may claim. These values can only be maintained if everyone actively contributes to society. Participation is extremely important in the Netherlands.

What do Dutch believe in? ›

While 67.8% of the Dutch population are not members of any religious community, the remainder report affiliation with a multitude of religions. 24.5% of the Dutch population is affiliated with a Christian church. The largest group, 11.7% in 2015, is Roman Catholic.

How do you address a Dutch person? ›

Typically, people refer to each other by their calling name (roepnaam) or first given name. People never refer to others by their other given names. In an office setting, as well as when addressing customers, it is common to address each other by one's calling name.

What is the national animal of the Netherlands? ›

The red, white and blue tricolour is the national flag of the Netherlands. The coat of arms depicts a lion holding arrows and a sword.

What is the Netherlands religion? ›

More than half (55 percent) of Dutch people aged 15 years and over are not religious. In 2020, 20 percent of the Dutch population belonged to the Catholic Church, 14 percent were Protestant, 5 percent Muslim and 5 percent belonged to another religious group.

How do you greet a Dutch girl? ›

The common greeting in the Netherlands is a handshake along with a nod of the head. This form of address is usually short. Among friends and family, it is common to greet one another by kissing on alternating cheeks three times.

What's up in Dutch slang? ›

12) Hoe gaat het? – What's up/How's it going? In the Dutch language, this is another method for you to say how are you to someone.

Do the Dutch give compliments? ›

The Dutch people like to give and receive compliments on looks. This can be done in a more flirty setting, but it's also very common between colleagues, friends, and family members.

What does thumbs up mean in Holland? ›

Gestures: Putting your index finger to the temple of your head or forehead is considered an insult as it indicates that the person you are talking about is crazy. Pointing is also considered rude. The 'thumbs up' gesture implies that something is good.

What is privacy in Dutch culture? ›

The Dutch need some time to get to know other people before they open up. Try to respect this need for privacy—with time, you'll notice a change in this behavior. The privateness of the Dutch is related to another Dutch cultural value: modesty. The Dutch don't like to brag about their accomplishments or wealth.

What is hard about Dutch? ›

Dutch is hard to pronounce

Consonants like ch, sch, ng and nk are unfamiliar in most languages and because you can combine nouns in Dutch, you end up with words like: Slechtstschrijvend (“worst-writing”) and angstschreeuw (cry of fear). Very difficult to pronounce. And it's not just the consonants.

What are some Dutch customs? ›

Their common greeting is a handshake and a smile. Very close friends will kiss each other three times on the cheek. Most Dutch are very comfortable when doing business with foreigners since The Netherlands has a long history of international trade.

What is the most famous Dutch thing? ›

Windmills (from USD 73)

It's hard to imagine Holland without picturing windmills in the scenery. It is essentially the most famous thing the Netherlands is known for. All around Amsterdam, you'll find windmills in different sizes in souvenir shops.

What happens to homeless people in the Netherlands? ›

The Netherlands is a welfare state where rents are controlled by the national government and more than half of the housing is public housing. Virtually all homeless people in Amsterdam are unemployed and receive some sort of social security benefit.

Why is it so hard to move to the Netherlands? ›

Moving to the Netherlands is hard for foreigners as they must undergo a specific process of obtaining residency or citizenship. However, American expats who wish to move to the Netherlands can obtain a residence permit with an extra opportunity known as the DAFT visa.

What are the benefits of owning a house in Netherlands? ›

Benefits of buying a home in the Netherlands

- Interest-tax deductions. - You can borrow 100% of the property's value. - You have the freedom to renovate your home and make it feel like your home. - You don't have to pay capital gains tax when selling a property.

What is 30 ruling in Netherlands? ›

The 30% reimbursement ruling (also known as the 30% facility) is a tax advantage for highly skilled migrants moving to the Netherlands for a specific employment role. When the necessary conditions are met, the employer can grant a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% of the gross salary subject to Dutch payroll tax.

Is it cheaper to live in the Netherlands or the USA? ›

Netherlands is 7.1% more expensive than United States.

Does the Netherlands have free healthcare? ›

Does the Netherlands have free healthcare. The Netherlands has universal healthcare, but the government requires all adults living or working in the Netherlands to have basic insurance. The basic plan will cost € 100-120 out of pocket.

How much does a 1 bedroom apartment cost in the Netherlands? ›

Prices for a one-room apartment in the city center range from 900 to 1,750 euros per month. In Delft or Utrecht - from 650 to 900 euros. Also, when planning a moving estimate, you should take into account preliminary expenses - a deposit, rent for one or two months, and current expenses.

What is basic rent Netherlands? ›

Basic rent (in Dutch – kale huur) is the costs of your accommodation only. GWL / GWE (gas, water, electricity) and perhaps internet and TV are the costs for the utilities you may need to pay. Please note that in some cases your rental contract might not include these costs.

What is the cheapest city to rent in Netherlands? ›


Like Den Haag, Groningen also ranks as one of the cheapest cities to live in the Netherlands and it's a great remote working option if you're more of a small town kind of person.

What is a fun fact about the New Netherlands? ›

New Netherlands was the only Dutch colony on the North American mainland. The area consisted of lands surrounding the Hudson River (in the present-day state of New York) and later the lower Delaware River (in New Jersey and Delaware). Explorers from the Netherlands (Holland) first settled the area in about 1610.

What made Netherlands famous? ›

From the telescope to Wi-Fi, Dutch inventions have built the modern world as we know it. As a country known for its forward-thinking and innovative culture, the Netherlands is credited with the creation of many devices we take for granted today. Holland continues to bring its penchant for innovation into the future.

What are key facts about New Netherlands? ›

New Netherland was the first Dutch colony in North America. It extended from Albany, New York, in the north to Delaware in the south and encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware.

What is someone from the Netherlands called? ›

Over time, English-speaking people used the word Dutch to describe people from both the Netherlands and Germany, and now just the Netherlands today.

What is Dutch culture? ›

Dutch people are usually very open, friendly and welcoming. In the Netherlands, only parents and children live together. In general, they do not live with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. During meals, Dutch families usually share their adventures of the day. In Dutch homes, all family members share chores.

What is a unique tradition in the Netherlands? ›

One traditional festivity in the Netherlands is the feast of Sinterklaas. It is celebrated on the evening before Sinterklaas' birthday on December 5, especially in families with little children.

What is unique about Dutch language? ›

the dutch language is known for long compound words.

That's 53 letters! When translating between English and Dutch, documents may need to redesigned to accommodate these long compound words. Also, text tends to expand when translated from English into Dutch, sometimes as much as 35%.

For which color is the Netherlands best known? ›

The national color of the Netherlands is orange

The Netherlands is known for the color orange. For example, you see it when their international football team is playing in the vivid color while thousands of orange-coloured fans are cheering from the tribune.

What do people in the Netherlands do for fun? ›

One out of three Dutch belongs to a sports club. Almost all Dutch people can swim, skate and ride a bike. The Dutch always consult their agenda and do not appreciate "surprise" visits. They are the world's second biggest coffee drinkers.

What language does Netherlands speak? ›

Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders) and Suriname. Dutch is also an official language of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten.

Are the Dutch the tallest in the world? ›

At just over 6 feet for men and about 5-foot-6 for women, the Dutch are still the world's tallest population.


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