Anyone who has lived – or tried to live – in Rotterdam, knows the housing scene in this city is a total disaster. As I get towards the end of my stay on the marvellous Nieuwe Binnenweg, I thought it was the right time to share a few tips and experiences concerning flat hunting in the ‘dam.
First of all, you need to know the number of flats and rooms available in Rotterdam is incredibly low, due to the Dutch population as well as national and international students residing in the city all year long. Know how everyone is always complaining about London being inhabitable, with sky-rocket prices in exchange for virtual holes? Well, to them I say, at least you guys have options. Months from my first day here, and luckily also from my desperate search for a place, I can honestly say I am amazed by the fact that all my friends actually managed to find a place to stay. Myself included.
But I don’t mean to scare you all away. Let’s start from the beginning:
Where to set off with your heroic quest?
You have two main options: you can either decide to opt for an agency-based lease, which means you are relying on an external body to supply you with a flat (or room), or you can go out there yourself, which means taking up all risks involved with a private search. Personally, I chose the second option. One of my relatives has lived in Amsterdam for over two years now, and upon me messaging her she warned me about Dutch agencies – “money eaters” you shouldn’t waste your time with. Now, not having had a direct experience with any agency in Rotterdam, I cannot form an opinion on the subject, but was still wary of it at the time. Add to that the fact that it was virtually impossible to get an agency to rent out a flat without you physically being there – which is fair enough but still annoying – and the deal was off (I preferred the idea of already having a place when I landed in the Netherlands. Sue me).
Now this was dramatic for a number of reasons: as well as not being able to share yet another flat with my former flatmate, who is currently doing Erasmus with me, I also had to look out for flat sharing websites and try to gather enough information on my potential flatmates to understand if they were a safe option. We’ve all been there. Trying to find decent flatmates while at the same time dodging potential creeps which you’ll have spend months living with? How about please no. 🤔
Now the question was, where to start? In my case, I have an acquaintance who is currently student at the Erasmus University here in Rotterdam – which, you might be thinking, is great! Someone could host me for the first week or so! Except not. Fate would have it that during the semester I am doing Erasmus, she is doing it as well, now living it up in Canada instead. Which was unfortunate on a number of levels. However, despite our distance, she was still able to give me some tips on flat hunting and especially suggest a couple websites where to look, which proved to be extremely useful for me.
For flat hunting → Pararius.com. When I still was unsure on whether to look for a whole flat to share or a single room within a flat, I used this website and personally found it extremely good. It offers a lot of filters, from price ranges, to number of bedrooms, to areas in the city as well as options for furnished or unfurnished places and more. As far as I know, all properties listed on the website are brought forward by agencies, which means that by using the website you have decided you are taking the first route and using an external body to help you. Although I do not know the specifics, I have been told that agencies here in the Netherlands apply pretty high costs for their services, on top of the rent itself obviously, so if you decide to go this way be wary of that!
For room hunting → HousingAnywhere. This is a relatively young start-up founded in the Netherlands (apparently by a friend of the guy I am renting the room from – how weird is that!) and currently available in 50 countries, which is insane. Basically, what you do is you sign up to the website, uploading basic information about yourself and optionally a photo as well. This serves for advertisers to check you out once you contact them about their ads and see if you might be their fit. The search bar makes your job extra easy: you put in the location you are interested in, your preferred start and end date of the lease, and hit the search button. The website will come up with a series of advertisements matching your criteria, as well as a map which you can use to see where each property is located. Once you click on the ad, you are also able to see who posted it, their answer frequency (which is useful to understand if someone is going to reply to you or not, saving you the hassle of putting your heart on something you will never get) and also their last time online, which can also help you see if they just haven’t read your message or if they probably already replied to someone else. Being only a few years old, filters are not yet fully developed on the website which means that sometimes it’s hard to set precise parameters for what you’re looking for, such as the furnished / unfurnished options you find on Pararius. Still, I found it great for my flat search and was eventually the platform I used to seal my deal.
A third website I found through google at the time is Rotterdam Apartments. Although I did not use this platform personally, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. It has similar filters to Pararius and has an intuitive layout which makes it easy to use.
It additionally presents a “recently added” section as well as a “short stay” option, in case you are only looking for a temporary place in the city, and it’s got decent graphics to check out the places online.
Overall, you need to understand that if you are looking for a whole flat you will probably have to do it in person once you’re here, which means setting your mind on spending your first times in Rotterdam in a hostel / hotel while you get yourself a home. If you’re happy with just a room though, be my guest. HousingAnywhere, the website I listed, is one of the safest bets as it’s specifically designed to protect your money against frauds. Once you choose a room and you make a deal with the owner, your rent money is transferred to the website, which keeps it for up until 2 days after your official moving in date. This is great because should your room not be the way you expected or the way it was presented to you, you can complain to the website and receive it back as a refund. The price for this is a fee which equals to 1/4 of your first rent, which is payed to the website, and although it might seem like a lot to you, I’d take it anytime over the risk of getting to Rotterdam and finding out my room doesn’t exist!
Now, as a last section of this blog post, let’s get to you guys who still don’t have a home in the ‘dam and are freaking out over it. IT’S OKAY. We’ve all been there. You’ll get it! So breathe in and breathe out and always remember not to panic over it. You’re not the only one and, although hard, it’s not impossible to find a place; you will find it just like we all did! Just have a bit of patience and enjoy the beautiful city in the meantime. 🙂
To help you out, here’s a few hostels in the city, so that you can have an affordable place to stay while you do.
I always rave about this place. Their location is amazing, their CAPPUCCINOs are amazing, the staff friendly and the insides so cool. I stumbled upon this hostel one rainy day as my friends and I were trying to escape the awful weather, and ended up finding a gem in the city. The whole hostel has a really cool vibe to it, not to mention it’s on Witte de Whit – the trendiest street in the city? * – next to the Witte Aap, which despite my comprehension has apparently been crowned the best pub in Europe by LonelyPlanet in 2014. Worth a visit right?
I haven’t been here and I have heard really bad things about this place. BUT, it is the cheapest hostel in Rotterdam, with huge dorms for up to 50 people roughly (is it a hostel or a prison camp?). So, if you don’t mind lack of quality and are looking to spend as little as possible, this is the place for you. It’s located in the north bit of the city, but I’m fairly sure everything is within easy reach either with a bike or public transport.
Who wouldn’t want to spend a night in the famous Cubic Houses? This piece of architecture is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city, with their quirky structure which makes everyone wonder whether people inside actually live slightly tilted lives. The hostel feels like a little village which spans over the whole bridge made up of the Cubic Houses, so not only you have a place to spend your nights, but you’re also doing it in an actual miracle of architecture. Additionally, the hostel also has a great location, as it’s basically in the middle of everything. The Markthal, Oude Haven and the Blaak are literally sitting in front of you and Witte de Whit is only a 5 min walk away. What more can you ask for?
So, these are my three suggestions for hostels in the city. You got location, you got price and you got cool vibes with each option, so hopefully they can help you a bit! 🙂
I think I have said pretty much everything there is to say, maybe even rambled a bit too much, but I hope this post can help all of you out there who are panicking over finding a place or who still have to get here and are planning in advance. I wish I’d found an article like this when I was getting ready to move to the Netherlands (I sure looked for it!), so I thought I would post one to help out. Rotterdam is a beautiful city and, despite houses being crowded, everyone eventually finds a place, so there is no need to worry. 💪🏻 Either way, just enjoy the fact that you are in one of the most amazing countries in the world and make the most of your time here! You won’t regret it. 😉
If you have any questions or need any advice on moving here, don’t hesitate to comment or message me! I will be very glad to help. 👻
Have a nice day everyone,