How much does it cost to rent long term in Amsterdam?
- A single room for a single person. Expect 650-800 euros per month at minimum, if not more, depending on location, space, and amenities.
- Studios are rare to find. Expect to pay 1,000 euros+ per month in the city centre (non-inclusive) for a small apartment. I currently live in a studio that is 45 square meters. It's doable for two people, but tight.
- 1-2-3 bedroom apartment. The average is about 1250-1300 per month for a 1-2 bedroom. It can go up higher (1500-2,500+) if you're looking at larger apartments or expat places. Depends a lot on location and expect to pay a lot more if you're in the ring in a nicer area.
How long does it take to find an apartment or room?
I'm visiting Amsterdam in a month. How can I rent an apartment?
Social v. Non-social housing aka Free sector / Vrij huurwoningen
If you are an expat, you cannot live in social housing without applying through the government and meeting all the conditions. If the rent of an entire apartment is under 711 euros per month and you are not cleared by the government, you do not qualify for it, so don't apply. If you're not cleared to rent in social housing by the government, you can only find housing in the non-social sector (aka the free sector) where there are NO maximum rents and the rent needs to be over 711 euros.
Note: it is generally ILLEGAL to sublet a social housing apartment, so if social housing is mentioned by a roommate/landlord, your housing is most likely illegal. Both you and the actual tenant can be evicted if the government finds out. (More about social housing here.)
Expat v. Dutch / Non-Expat Housing
Expat rentals (aka listing is in English only) are much more flexible and competitive. They're likely to have most of the utilities taken care of, come semi-furnished/furnished, ask for fewer documents, and be more competitive. Your profile in terms of finances/job contracts matters more as the owner often decides who is the renter. The income requirements and prices will be higher with expat rentals as there is a perception that expats have more money. You need to be careful with expat rentals as the real estate agencies (makelaars) act as middle men, so it is important to know your rights.
As someone who has done both Dutch and expat rentals, the Dutch rentals (aka listing is only in Dutch) are a better deal price wise, but they require a lot more paperwork, reading some Dutch, potentially some handy work, and often negotiations with the previous owner. Most importantly, you'll need to figure out how things work on your own (e.g. set up your own water / internet / gas). Many of these are through large housing corporations, so the selection process is less personal and more based on who applied first who is qualified. If you're moving here as a non-Dutch speaker, it is possible, but it won't be easy. It's easier once you've been here for a year (or more).
Furnished v. Semi-Furnished v. Unfurnished
Semi-furnished. This usually means you get the bare minimum: a fridge (sometimes), floors, and fresh paint. ...That's it.
Furnished: Only found on the expat market. Expect a much higher price. The furniture will not be yours, so you will need to be careful with the furniture as you may need to pay damages.
What's best? If you're on a tight budget, a unfurnished (if you can negotiate for the floors) or semi-furnished place is best. You can furnish your place inexpensively using IKEA, maarktplaats, or the expat Facebook groups. You'll save a lot buying gently used furniture and appliances.
Inclusive or Exclusive
Exclusive: You'll need to pay city taxes, water, internet, gas, and electric on your own. After you move in and register at your address, waternet and city taxes will be automatically sent to you. (Be sure to note the initial readings of your water/electric prior to move in.) However, you'll need to set up your own gas/electric and internet about one month before you move in. It's way easier than you realize and you can always call customer service to ask how to set it up in English! (Greenchoice can be used for both gas/electric and XL4All is a well-regarded internet provider.)
1/3 Ratio = You (and a partner combined) make 3x the rent per month before taxes. If your partner is not employed, you'll need to have an higher income to rent (usually with a 1/5).
Freelancing will hurt you. Even if you have an amazing income, it will hurt you as most owners prefer to see a contract for a set period (12 months+) to guarantee that you can pay the rent. You will need a lot of extra money to guarantee the owner that you can afford it for a single apartment or find a room rental where your roommates are more lenient.
What is a Makelaar? (They're Real Estate Agencies
If YOU hire the real estate agency to helps you find an apartment, you're the one who pays the 1 month of rent fee MAX when you find your apartment. If the landlord is the one who hired the real estate agent, they are the one who pays it. It is ILLEGAL for the real estate agencies to ask money from both parties and to ask for more than 1 month as a fee. Know your rights.
Amsterdam housing scams
Is subletting legal in Amsterdam? Not really
How to register your apartment with the Dutch government
Where to search for room rentals
Is Amsterdam pet friendly?
Best neighborhoods to live in Amsterdam
The nicest areas of Amsterdam are within the ring (aka Prinsengracht and Centre) or de Jordaan. Close to West close to Vondelpark is also pricey. De Pijp and Prinseneiland are beautiful areas where it is slightly more affordable, but you'll still pay a premium for the neighborhoods. Oost is rapidly changing although it's still fairly affordable although finding an apartment there can be tough for this reason. (For more about neighborhoods of Amsterdam, click here for my personal guide to my favorite neighborhoods!)
Cheaper, but more modern is the Eastern Docklands (Cruquiuseilands, Zeeburg, KNSM) for spacious newer rentals that are good for families/couples. Similarly, expat families should consider Amstelveen, where it is possible to rent a house, which is where one of the international schools is located. Noord is a cool area to live in with many new buildings going up constantly. (Your commute will require a slightly longer commute, including going across the water by car/bike (bridge) or ferry, but you'll save a lot and there's many family-friendly options.) Zuid is a great area as well.
American Areas you'll save money living in: South East Amsterdam (Bijlmer), Bos & Lommer, Slotervaart, and Nieuwe West. These are primarily immigrant neighborhoods. I lived in one of these areas and felt 100% safe, even walking back at night.
As you get further from the city, you'll find more affordable housing with an easy commute to Amsterdam from Diemen, Hoofddorp, Zaandam, Almere and Haarlem. If you live in these areas, you'll need to commute to work by train/bus and a car might be helpful.
Paperwork to rent an apartment in Amsterdam
If non-EU, residence permits.
Bank Statements (Past 12 months). They'll want to see your bank statements for the past 12 months for every single month. I know it seems unnecessary, but many owners/companies will carefully check your finances for stability.
Pay slips (Past 12 months).
(Expat rentals are often more lenient if you have your work contract and substantial savings.)
How much money do you need saved to rent in Amsterdam?
Plan to start looking seriously (not earlier!) about 1 month before you move with a solid backup plan for temporary housing. You'll see a bunch for the beginning of the next month, so if you can move in earlier than the official date listed, mention this when you view the apartment as many landlords are often happy to accommodate you if the apartment IS empty. (I got an apartment over another couple due to this!)
Best Websites to Check For Housing
Kamernet.nl is where to look for rooms. There are also Facebook groups, however you'll also encounter scam artists. This is the best place to find a room. If you're a couple, don't plan on trying this route as people don't want to live with a couple (sorry).
If you're only interested in high-end, fully furnished places and you have the income, pararius can be good, however it is very catered to high income expats.
Strategies to find an apartment in Amsterdam
Friends are the BEST way to get an apartment.
Filter by date online. More than 3 days; It's gone.
Get a Dutch bank account.
If your employer is bringing you here to work or you're a student, ASK your employer/university for help.
Know your MAX rent, inclusive and exclusive, with the income requirements. If the apartment is too expensive, you will be rejected.
Get rid of your must-have list. It's unlikely you'll be living on a canal. (Sorry.)
It's not enough to email; CALL to ask the status of an apartment.
Be fast on a Monday morning to get viewings and update the sheet daily.
Keep Track of your Applications in an Excel
Getting organized with an excel is the BEST way to keep track of which apartments you like, when the listing was posted, which apartments that you received viewings for, the specifications for the apartment, and which apartments that you need to follow-up with.
You can view/download the excel here that my friends and I have used by subscribing to my mailing list for more expat posts, travel tips, and inspiration! (Updates once monthly with NO spam.)