It is no secret that there is a severe housing shortage in the major Dutch student cities with Groningen being no exception. As an international student seeking accommodation in Groningen, your confidence can easily take a hard knock unless you face up to the current reality of student accommodations, start searching early enough, and make use of as many available resources as possible to find a reasonable place to live. In this article, however, we intend to be more comprehensive as far as affordability is concerned than simply noting the reasonable options when it comes to student accommodations.
With 1550 rooms spread in different locations around Groningen, SSH Groningen offers international students rooms that are suitable for short stays in addition to studios in student complexes. The rooms provided by SSH is usually furnished, which is perfect because it saves you the hassle of going shopping for furniture. Some of these rooms are only reserved for PhD students studying in the University of Groningen. If you choose to live in one of the SSH student buildings, you need to register at their online system and then submit your request. SSH has a first come, first served policy for some of its accommodations. So, be quick to register with them! It is recommended to apply for housing 3 months in advance as places are limited.
Student Hotel Groningen:
As the name suggests, the experience of staying in Student Hotel Groningen is like blending your life as a student with the life of a tourist. Rooms in this hotel come in three different types; standard (18 square metre area size), panorama (18 square metre), and suite (24 square metre). Except for the suites that have their own small kitchens, all the rooms are equipped with all mod cons typical of a hotel including private facilities, a king-sized bed, WiFi internet connection, air conditioner, and a TV. These rooms respectively cost 744 Euros, 789 Euros, and 923 Euros per month. Students enjoy a 20 percent discount on all the meals cooked at the hotel’s restaurant. In addition, their rooms and linens get cleaned once every month. What is more, there are weekly movie nights, and on special occasions such as Halloween, parties and fun events are organized for students. The Student Hotel has a limited amount of rooms on offer, so make sure to apply early before the semester starts.
Searching on your own:
If you want to find a house independently, a useful suggestion for approaching a landlord would be giving a brief description of yourself in which you highlight your qualities as a potential tenant/housemate. Most landlords look for tenants that fit into an ideal profile they have in mind. So, when showing interest in a place that is up for rent see how well you fit into the landlord’s ideal profile. Let your match or mismatch for landlords’ ideal profiles, if any, dictate whether you should contact the landlord or not. This can save you a good deal of time in your quest for a place and increase your chance of finding a room as quickly as possible. Do not get demotivated in your search for a place in Groningen as you might run into many ads that are exclusive to certain identity categories, such as the most frequently seen “only Dutch girls.” You may frequntly come across such ads while you are looking for a new house or a room in some of the “student housing” groups on Facebook, however, that should not discourage you from checking them for available accommodations. Some of the most popular Facebook groups are “Student rooms Goningen,” “Groningen rooms,” “Free housing announcements in Groningen,” and “Student Housing Groningen.” Finding a room on Facebook is easy but there are a lot of scammers, beware of them. Never send money via Western Union, always ask to see the house via skype, Search for the house via Google maps and make sure the address exists or is actually in a Living neighbourhood, Never send money without receiving a contract and check the Facebook profile for any signs of the account being fake. If the person you are speaking to doesn’t have a good command of English, that is always a sure telltale sign that they might not be from the Netherlands.
Kamernet is the largest room search website in the Netherlands. They have all sorts of accommodations available. Rooms are usually put up by students who are looking for fellow students to live with or previous renters of the room. There is usually a chance to see pictures of the accommodation or visit the house before hand to see if suits you. Kamernet can be quite competitive as there are hundreds of other people also reacting to adverts, to increase your chances of getting a response and being chosen for the room, make sure to write an interesting message with information about yourself, hobbies and what you are looking for in a house. To reply to messages on kamernet you need to pay 19 euros for 15 days access and 30 euros for a months access.
Besides SSH, there are housing associations such as Lefier and Nijestee that offer rooms or houses to students. These associations work on an income basis, and favour people with low income and are thus perfect for students. The rent they charge is subsidised and thus can be one of the cheapest options for finding a room. Both Lefier and Nijestee have accomodations all over the city, Lefier works on a first come first serve basis for its rooms, you sign up on their website for a one off cost of 30 euros, for each month that you are signed up you earn a point. When choosing who gets the room, the person with the most points is favoured over the one with less. To access studios and apartments on Lefier and Nijestee you have to sign up on woningnetgroningen.nl , here you gain access to all accommodations offered by the 5 big housing corporations, namely Lefier, Nijestee, Patrimonium, De Huismeesters and Steelande Wonen. It is ideal to sign up for Woningnet if you would like to move in to an apartment with friends. Signing up for Woningnet costs 20,60 euros a year. Again all apartments and studios are offered on a points basis, and the first to register always has an advantage.
Moreover, even though it is highly important for some students to find a place that allows them to register at a Dutch municipality (Gemeente), there are living places that are rented out without the possibility of registering at a municipality. So, if for whatever reason such a registration is necessary for you, it is wise to make an inquiry into that before showing an interest in viewing a place.
Check the housing sites listed below. For some of these sites, in order to contact a landlord or a real estate agent who have posted vacancies, you are required to pay a registration fee varying in amount from site to site.
Huurtoeslag (rent subsidy):
Huurtoeslag is financial aid that the Dutch government gives to low-income residents in the Netherlands. The amount of huurtoeslag varies depending on specific factors such as rental costs and an applicant’s age. As long as the applicant is a legal resident in the Netherlands, nationality is not a barrier to receiving huurtoeslag depending on whether or not the applicant meets specific criteria. Therefore, just like many Dutch citizens, international students can receive ‘huurtoeslag,’ and by doing so increase their chances of finding a house or an apartment. The conditions that you need to meet to be eligible for huurtoeslag are listed below.
- The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
- The applicant must be registered with the Dutch immigration and naturalization service (IND).
- If the applicant is younger than 23, the monthly rental costs (including service costs) of his/her house or apartment must not exceed 414,02 Euros unless the applicant has a child who lives in the same house. If the applicant is older than 23, the monthly rental costs must not exceed 710,68 Euros.*
- The place for which the huurtoeslag is requested must be self-contained, meaning that it has to have its own entrance door that can be locked, kitchen and toilet.
- The applicant must not have financial assets that exceed 25,000 Euros in value.**
You can see whether or not you are eligible to receive huurtoeslag for a certain living space, and if so, how much subsidy you would receive, on the website of the Dutch tax services.
* The figures apply to the year 2017
** This figure apply to the year 2017