It is no secret that there is a severe housing shortage in the major Dutch student cities, 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. Many places for internationals are full at the moment, so please be aware of that!
Finding a new home in a new city can be quite difficult. For instance, how does renting law work and how and where can you find your home? The municipality developed together with Hanze University, RUG, UMCG and the province of Groningen a website for all these questions. It's filled with information and help you need regarding housing for international students. We recommend checking out their website!
When arriving in a new city it might be convenient to find a home that is already furnished. There are several housing-organizations that offer rooms, studios and apartments for new students. Most of the time you'll live with other international students, which can be a lot of fun since you can share the experience of a new city and country.
With 1300 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. Be aware that the SSH Groningen is currently full so it might take some time before you will be offered a place there. The rooms provided by SSH are 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 at 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.
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. Be aware that The Student Hotel is currently full so it might take some time before you can find a place there. Furthermore, it is quite expensive as it is a hotel and not a standard student room. It is, however, a good place to start, especially as an international, to find another place from there.
Blockhouse offers more than 200 new furnished studios and apartments for students and expats. Be aware that you have to sign up for a mailing list now since there are currently no studios available. Every accommodation has its own kitchen, bathroom and even free wifi. Blockhouse also houses cafes, plus study and work spaces. The ideal living place for you as a new student.
Most of the housing in Groningen is offered online. There are many websites where you can find various dorms, studios and apartments. For some of these sites, in order to contact a landlord or a real estate agent, you are required to pay a registration fee varying in amount from site to site. Be aware that there are a lot of scammers so make sure that you find something which is reliable!
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 beforehand to see if it 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 use kamernet you need to sign up for a subscription.
Kamernet isn't the only housing site where you can look. Over here we'll list a number of websites where you can take a look:
Contacting a landlord
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.
Social media and Scamming
Using social media is also a good way to find a room. Facebook is very popular for students, landlords and real estate agents to find a tenant. For example, you can check out ‘Kamers in Groningen’. Finding a room on Facebook is free and easy but there are some downsides. There are a lot of people using the groups for their search, so it might be difficult to actually get a place through there. Next to this, there are also a lot of scammers on FB so make sure it is legit!
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 frequently come across such ads while you are looking for a new house or a room. However, that should not discourage you from checking them for available accommodations.
How to not get scammed? 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 neighborhood. 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.
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 favor people with low income and are thus perfect for students. The rent they charge is subsidized and thus can be one of the cheapest options for finding a room.
Both Lefier and Nijestee have accommodations all over the city, Lefier works on a first come first serve basis for its rooms, you sign up on their website for a period of 8 years which costs 35 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 favored over the one with less.
To access studios and apartments on Lefier and Nijestee you have to sign up on ROOM or woningnetgroningen.nl, here you gain access to all accommodations offered by the 4 big housing corporations, namely Lefier, Nijestee, Patrimonium and De Huismeesters. It is ideal to sign up for Woningnet if you would like to move into an apartment with friends. Signing up for Woningnet costs 20 euros for the first year and 11 euros per year afterwards. 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.
Rent subsidy, or huurtoeslag in Dutch, is financial aid that the Dutch government gives to low-income residents in the Netherlands. The amount of rent subsidy 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 rent subsidies, 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 notexceed 442,46 Euros unless the applicant has a child who lives inthe same house. If the applicant is older than 23, the monthlyrental costs must not exceed 763,40 Euros.*
- The place for which the rent subsidy is requested must be
self-contained, meaning that it has to have its own entrance doorthat can be locked, kitchen and toilet.
- The applicant must not have financial assets that exceed 31,747 Euros in value.**
You can see whether or not you are eligible to receive rent subsidy 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 June 2022
** This figure applies to June 2022