Finding Accommodation - How Not to Live Out of a Suitcase

Ishdeep, Master Game and Media Technology

So, I'm pretty sure you must have heard about the accommodation situation in Utrecht. If not let me give you a short summary, since Utrecht consists of a few different institutions as well as Utrecht university, it’s populated with many students doing a masters, bachelors or an exchange programme.

This makes it difficult to find accommodation in Utrecht. There have even been a few cases where students have had to leave due being unable to find accommodation (although this is very rare), so it is not something that should be taken lightly. Accommodation in Utrecht varies from student housing (catering to only students) to staying in private housing (shared or private) with a landlord-tenant system. I will share with you my experience of finding accommodation in Utrecht and give you some suggestions and tips on how to get ahead when finding accommodation in Utrecht.

My Experience
Places in reserved accommodation are limited and cannot be guaranteed (Photo Credit Jan Bitter)

I was admitted to Utrecht University in October 2016 as my Masters was scheduled to start in Feb 2017. I had no idea what the accommodation situation was in Utrecht, but I had some information from the University’s website – telling me to book as soon as possible! So, I got to it in November using the student accommodation company SSH. Fortunately, there were 3 places still available at the University College Utrecht Campus consisting of private rooms in a student accommodation building (priced at €616 p/m). I didn't explore many other options, I just got the first one I found and stuck with it (which was not exactly a bad move, although maybe I would've found something cheaper).

Most students in the Netherlands rent a room within a shared student house

My contract with SSH was for 6 months, which meant that I had to look for another place to stay once my contract expired. Of course, I could stay with SSH, but the waiting list can be long, so you have to apply early for that (I will be honest - I didn't research much about this). Luckily, I made a friend who was here on exchange and would be leaving in 6 months. He stayed in a privately rented house which he found using a group on Facebook. So I spoke to his landlord and he agreed to let me stay in his room after my friend left the accommodation (I was very lucky!!). The price for the room was €450 p/m, a bit expensive for a 14 metre sq. room, but I share a full house with 3 other roommates. I am stayed in this same accommodation since July 2017 because the landlord agreed to let me stay for a year (he's not a fan of people staying for more than 6 months in any of the rooms). However, in July 2018 I will be back on the market looking for accommodation again, well actually before then because I don't want to be living out of suitcases!

Getting ahead of the Game - My Suggestions
You should start searching for housing as soon as possible, even searching to understand the rental market better will help. (Photo Credit Steven Snoep)

Start Searching Now!

One thing I have learnt during my stay in Utrecht is that you need to start looking for accommodation as soon as possible. Even if you have the slightest chance of coming to Utrecht, start looking for housing and the best options available for you, before they run out. Normally, it's suggested to look for housing at least 2-3 months before your arrival due to the high demand and the various accommodation deadlines and tenancy periods. Even if it´s too early to book accommodation for your arrival, start looking to see what your options are and what you can expect.

Finding a Place?

There are multiple ways to go about this; you could look at the multiple Utrecht Facebook groups that always have adverts for rooms, either student accommodation or usually private housing (Keep in mind they go really quickly, so you have to up to date with the posts and respond quickly). Here are some groups:

  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/iknowaplaceUtrecht/?ref=group_browse_new 
  2. https://www.facebook.com/groups/545181045520780/?ref=group_browse_ne 
  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1028977943842685/?ref=group_browse_new
Networking once you are in Utrecht can really help you find a room! (Photo Credit Maarten Nauw)

Reserved Accommodation and Housing Companies

Another way to find housing is using companies like SSH or Utrecht2stay that have accommodations for students. These are normally the most convenient, provided that you book early, as the waiting lists can be long (The prices can range from 400-1200 per month). If you don't find any housing in Utrecht you can look for the areas and towns around Utrecht which are not that far from it, for instance, Zeist, Maarssen, or Overvecht. Lastly, if you don't find anything at all, try booking a hostel (a good one is StayOkay Utrecht) about 8-10 euros a day for a few weeks until you can find something (meet new people or try the techniques above). Moreover, there are always some students who sublet either for a month when they are away; so you could use this opportunity to look for housing, providing the landlord has approved of the sublet!

So, to sum up accommodation is hard to find in Utrecht but not impossible! Just plan early, prepare to compromise initially, and keep looking for any new offers, you'll always end up with something.

I hope this post provided you with more insight into the accommodation situation in Utrecht. If you have any further questions you can check out my profile on Unibuddy and contact me.

For more information and advice about finding accommodation in Utrecht see our Student Housing Website. Please be careful when looking for housing and note these important things to keep in mind and be aware of scams - if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you have questions you can contact UU for U Student Services.