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How to find and rent a room in Amsterdam

Seemingly, half the world wants to move to Amsterdam, and if you’re reading this you’re probably contemplating doing so yourself.

Looking for a hotel instead of a student room (Dutch: studentenkamer)?

Consequently, housing is at a premium. Students or interns, in particular, have a hard time finding a room — affordable or not — in Amsterdam to rent. [Note: More than 102.000 students attend universities in Amsterdam.]

Others in the market for a long-stay or short-stay place in the city also experience that finding a room is difficult.

Find a room in Amsterdam

Expect to pay premium rates for rooms or apartments in or near the center of Amsterdam

Many rooms are now listed on Airbnb, and have thus become far too expensive for students and other non-tourists.

Indeed, when it comes to student accomodation Amsterdam is the most expensive place in the Netherlands.

Currently a number of real estate developers are working on projects that target students and expats. When those options become available, we will include them on this page.

Regardless of why you want to move here, you need to start your search as early as possible. Don’t wait till the last minute. [Details about the Academic Year in Amsterdam]

If you are looking for a room to rent in Amsterdam, and you do not want to stay at a hotel or youth hostel, you’ve got several options:

Where to Rent a Room in Amsterdam

Kamernet.nl (Anyone – Best Option)

[Note that even in the English version, dates are written in this format: dd–mm–yyyy]

The best-organized, and largest room rental site in the Netherlands. The link leads to the Amsterdam listings, but you can use Kamernet to find rooms for rent anywhere in the Netherlands.

Kamernet also lists apartments, studios and anti-squat rentals.

Listings include full details, photos and location on a Google map (so Street View is available).

Advertisers pay a fee to be listed, but renters can search for free.

There are no mediation- or agency fees, but you have to buy a premium subscription in order to respond to any of the ads:

  • €19 for 15 days during which you can react to an unlimited number of offers.
  • €30 per month during which you can react to an unlimited number of offers.

You can also select the Early Bird service. An advertisement with the label ‘Early Bird’ is a newly added room, which is only accessible by users who have Early Bird access. That means you can respond up to 48 hours before other people can.

Early Bird rates are as follows:

  • €21 for 15 days during which you can react to an unlimited number of regular and Early Bird offers.
  • €34 per month during which you can react to an unlimited number of regular and Early Bird offers.

You will have direct contact with the owners or roommates. Incidentally, a link to information about the owners of the room is available in each listing, and renters can provide feedback (e.g. spam, scam, agency, inappropriate behavior, et cetera) for Kamernet to handle.

Signing up allows you to create a profile that potential landlords can view. It pays to customize your profile (especially the description and photos) so that you stand out from the rest.

You can also create a free call-up which allows owners to find you, instead of the other way around.

Another option is to receive alerts when new rooms that match your needs become available.

Tip: If you have no luck finding a room in Amsterdam itself, check in nearby communities, such as Amstelveen, Diemen or Haarlem. All have good public transport connections to the city.

You did budget for bus & tram fares, right? And of course, this being Amsterdam, you will no doubt get a bike.

Another Tip: If you cannot find the ‘place of your dreams,’ take what you can get. You can always look for a more ideal room or location when you are here. Short Stay Rooms become available throughout the year.

Current Kamernet Listings

Amsterdam room rental listing

Kamernet lists rooms, apartments, studios and anti-squat properties for rent in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands

Craigslist (Anyone)

Craigslist is a classified ads service that provides free listings. You’ll find:

  • overnight stays
  • short-term rentals (from a week to a few months)
  • long-term housing (ideal for students, interns, or anyone else who wants to stay in Amsterdam for a longer period of time)

It’s somewhat of a ‘last resort,’ really. Listings have not been vetted, and there is no feedback system through which you could learn from other people’s experiences. Good rooms can be found — if you manage to avoid scams, bait-and-switch commercial operations, and possibly illegal rentals. Just make sure your BS-meter is working overtime.

Buyer Beware: Make sure you can register at city hall using the address of the home the room is part of. If not, you are most likely dealing with someone who is renting out rooms illegally.

DUWO (Students only)

The biggest and oldest student housing agency in the Netherlands. Lists 31,000 rooms and houses in Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Delft, Deventer, The Hague, Haarlem, Hoofddorp, Leiden and Wageningen.

Totally legitimate, but not everyone can apply.

CouchSurfing (Anyone)

A last-ditch option, really only meant for very short-term stays (often literally on someone’s couch).

The Student Hotel (Anyone willing to pay a bit extra)

If you want to bypass all the hassle, inconvenience and insecurity of finding a suitable room in Amsterdam — and you can afford a bit more than rock-bottom rental rates — you owe it to yourself to check out (and check in to) The Student Hotel . There are two locations, both about 10-15 minutes by bike from the city center. You can stay a few nights, a few weeks, or 1 or 2 semesters.

This is student housing at its best. Every room is fully-furnished with a comfortable bed, desk, and chair, and flat screen TV and amenities including free high speed Internet and Wi-Fi as well as access to a gym, lounge, study area and game area. Plus the use of a custom city bike during your stay. Gas, water and electricity are included as well.

You’ll also have access to a shared kitchen (or a private kitchen if you have a suite).

Book The Student Hotel Amsterdam West or The Student Hotel Amsterdam City.

Amsterdam student hotel

Not just for students, The Student Hotel is considered one of the best values in Amsterdam

Airbnb clones

Recently a lot Airbnb-style websites have popped up, with some clones claiming to be ‘the largest room rental site…’ and so on.

Many of them have few listings, and on some sites a number of listing appear to have been cloned from other websites.

Until these sites have established a verifiable track record we will not list or recommend them here.

As always, be careful when it comes to providing your personal details and banking information. Better safe than sorry.

Caution! Room Rental Scams

Be extremely cautious when using Craigslist or similar services when finding a room in Amsterdam. While most advertisers are legitimate, lots of scam artists use such websites as well.

  • Be particularly weary with any responses to ads you place yourself. It is always better to react to ads for rooms on offer, than to place an ad saying you want to rent a room. The latter will often attract fantastic offers designed to take you for a ride.
  • Do not agree to pay any money before you see the room. You need to see the room in person — not, for instance, on a print-out of a Google map.
  • Do not sign any contracts without seeing the room.
  • If you like to room, but want to check one or more other possibilities as well, do not pay a deposit.
  • Look for signs that the house is occupied and that the person showing you the room knows his way around.

    In a popular scam a crook rents out a room multiple times — in a house that does not belong to him or her. The house may have been recently vacated, or the actual owners are on vacation. Regardless, you’ll be one of several people holding a key to a room that won’t be yours to use.

  • Do not deal with people who claim to act on behalf of the owner (who just happens to be ‘abroad’). If you are familiar with so-called ‘Advanced Fee‘ scams, be aware that Amsterdam is a hotbed of such activities — and that you wouldn’t be the first or last victim to fall for such a scam in person.
  • Do not provide personal banking details.
  • Take basic precautions. That is, get as much information as you can. Ask for references. Get things in writing (what is included, how is the deposit handled, are there any special rules or considerations).
  • Be safe. If you can, bring a friend along when you go to view rooms. Trust your instinct and intuitions in dealing with people.
  • Have photocopies of your identity papers with you, rather than agree to let the renter photocopy them. To deter misuse, mark your photocopies, for instance with a diagonal line or cross through the copy.

In addition, it is risky — if not outright foolish — to pay a deposit from abroad. You’re much better off arranging to arrive in Amsterdam one or two months before your target date than to wait till the last minute.

Something else you should be aware of: There are strict rules regarding the legality of renting out a room in Amsterdam — and indeed throughout the Netherlands.

Many people here live in rented homes. A large percentage of these homes are in rent-controlled buildings owned by housing corporations. These renters qualify for such homes based on their income.

Others rent so-called ‘free sector’ houses, at steep rates.

In either case, people who wish to rent out a room need permission to do so from their landlords.

Failure to obtain such permission is considered a serious breach of the rental contract, in which case the home renters can be evicted.

This also applies to rooms rented out via Airbnb.

It is not your responsibility to find out if an advertised room is rented out with permission from the landlord, but it doesn’t hurt to ask about it.

Registration

Find out whether or not it is possible for you to register at the address where you may rent a room.

Usually students and interns alike need a registered address in order to receive subsidies, legal documents, open a bank account, et cetera.

There are various reasons why people would want to prevent someone from registering at their address. For instance, it may potentially raise the amount of municipal taxes the main renter has to pay. It may also affect someone’s social security income, or have other financial consequences.

Those who live in rent-controlled houses based on their income may no longer qualify if money derived from renting out rooms pushes them across the limit.

If you are not allowed to register at a certain address, you are most likely dealing with someone who is renting out a room without permission from his or her landlord.

What is the average rent?

The average rent students pay for a room in the Netherlands is €323/month, and €414/month in Amsterdam — record amounts, according to a May 2016 survey by national student union LSVb.

By August 2016 the average rental rate for a room in Amsterdam had increased to €500/month, said Kamernet – Holland’s largest website advertising rooms and apartements.

The Netherlands employs a point system that determines the maximum amount of rent someone is legally allowed to charge for a house, apartment or room. Points are assigned based on square footage, facilities, and other features.

According to the union, nationally 75 percent of students who do not live with their parents pay an amount that is too high by €58.33/month on average.

The situation is worst in Amsterdam, LSVb says, as students here pay an average of €138,12/month over the legal limit.

Note that LSVb’s research is based on a poll of 2679 students who completed a Dutch-language rent check on the organization’s website.1

In reality you will often run into much higher rental rates in Amsterdam.

Cannot Find a Room in Amsterdam?

If you cannot find a room in Amsterdam through the services listed above, you may want to stay at a hostel instead, and use that as a base from which to continue looking for another place. Also: don’t forget to check nearby communities.

This information may be useful in deciding when to start looking for accomodation:

Amsterdam: Academic Year

The Academic Year is divided into two semesters.

  • First Semester (Autumn Semester): September – January
    A good time to start looking for a room is at the beginning of June.

    The Vrije Universiteit (VU) offers second semester students electives during the February – June period, as an alternative to following courses in June. Hence some students vacate their rooms in June, whereas the majority of students leave for home in July.

    Generally, there is a mad rush for rooms during the months of July and August.

  • Second Semester (Spring Semester): February – June
    There is no gap between the end of the first semester and the start of the second semester, which can make it more difficult to find a room.

    Most people start searching at the beginning of January. But note: some rooms may be listed by the middle or end of December.

    That is because students at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) can follow electives during the September – December period, as an alternative to the January period — thus leaving rooms behind a month earlier.

Always double-check the dates.

This information was first published on August 16, 2013. It is updated when necessary. Most recent update: Decembeer 6, 2016.

Notes:

  1. Student union LSVb operates a Dutch-language website that allows students to determine whether the amount of rent they pay is within legal limits.
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This post was last updated: Jan. 3, 2017    

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