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How Does Housing in Amsterdam Work?

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Thinking about moving to the Netherlands? Amsterdam is one of the most popular places to live in the country, and its culture, nightlife, and natural beauty draw expats from all over the world. Looking for housing in Amsterdam, however, can be a little confusing and the market might be more challenging than you’re used to.

40 percent of Dutch people rent their homes, so it’s not uncommon to have significant competition in finding a place to live. In some areas, there are even restrictions on who is allowed to live there. If you’re an expat, this might lead to a disadvantage because priority can be given to individuals who were born in that area or who have family living or working nearby.

With so many people looking for a place to live in Amsterdam, it can be hard to know where to start looking. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the housing options you’ll find within Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands.

What Are the Different Types of Housing in Amsterdam?

The Netherlands has two different types of housing markets — public and private. Both types of housing are awarded points through the House Value Rating System. This system was designed to improve the quality of the housing sector and help establish minimum housing standards.

This points system is used to determine if the price of rent is comparable to the value of the property as well as who can rent the property. The fewer points a property has, the cheaper the rent, and the more restrictions there will be on who can be accepted as a tenant. Public housing rentals will have up to 145 points, and anything higher is typically private housing. While private housing is going to have less restrictions than public housing, the cost of rent is often much more expensive.

When you look for a place to live, you’ll likely see a few different ways that apartments are described. In Amsterdam, you can rent apartments that are fully furnished, partly furnished, or unfurnished. Fully furnished apartments will essentially be turnkey, but you’ll have to accept someone else’s style for your home furnishings. Partly furnished might include lighting and kitchen appliances, but you’ll still need to bring most living essentials like furniture. Unfurnished is a bare apartment, and you’ll need to provide everything — including a fridge and a washer and dryer — to make it feel like home.

Let’s dig into more of the differences between the two main types of housing in Amsterdam.

Public Housing

Public housing in the Netherlands is called social housing, and it’s one of the biggest public housing sectors in Europe. 42 percent of Amsterdam’s housing is actually social housing. Social housing is geared toward low-income groups, and as of 2019, rent prices are capped at €720 per month by law. 80 percent of social housing in Amsterdam is required to be rented to those with annual incomes less than €35,739, and ten percent of housing can be allocated to families with income above that limit. To live in social housing, you are required to submit a housing permit.

Most social housing rentals are owned by housing associations, and available rentals are hard to come by. Most people will be on waitlists for multiple years before their application is accepted, with some lists stretching out as long as 12 years. If you’re interested in social housing, make sure submitting your housing permit is at the top of your to-do list when you arrive in the country.

Private Housing

Private housing is also called the free sector and does not have the same types of regulations that social housing has. For example, landlords are free to determine their own rent costs and increases. There is no capped rent for free sector housing.

While private housing prices are obviously going to be higher, available rentals are easier to find. Private housing is typically owned by private companies or individuals. In 2018, the average monthly rental price was €23 per square meter or about €1700 for a 74m2 or 800 sq. ft.

Most expats will rent private housing because although supply is still limited, it’s much easier to find an available space to rent. As Amsterdam has gotten more popular and the small city has become more crowded, rent prices have gone up as have the number of people looking for somewhere to rent.

If you’re moving to Amsterdam through work, it can be to your advantage. Having a local expert on your side is crucial in such a crowded market, especially when there are hoops to jump through and a language barrier. Moving to a new country and getting everything in order is stressful — but having someone on your side can make a huge difference in how you’re able to settle in and adjust to your new environment.

At Dwellworks, our local experts are here to help. We live in the communities we work in, and we can help you navigate your new environment just like a local. In a crowded housing market like Amsterdam, having an advocate on your side can take stressful work off your shoulders. Interested in learning more about how we can help you with your move? Get in touch with our team today.

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