As well as historically being a popular student city, Utrecht is fast becoming one of the most attractive places to live in the Netherlands. Not only does it offer the amenities found in most big cities, but it's also full of character and retains a small-town feel. Plus, the cost of living in Utrecht is a fraction of the cost that one would pay in Amsterdam, for instance.
These drawcards have brought an influx of highly-qualified professionals to Utrecht to take up jobs at companies that have chosen to base their operations there. Unfortunately, the housing market has not kept pace with the rapid population growth of the city and, as a result, finding suitable accommodation can be a bit of a battle.
Types of accommodation in Utrecht
The type of housing a person would opt for depends on a number of factors, including their demographic, whether they are moving to Utrecht with a family, and their lifestyle priorities.
Furnished and unfurnished housing options are both available in Utrecht. There are plenty of shops to purchase inexpensive furniture so there should be little need to ship furniture unless expats are looking to settle in the Netherlands.
Apartments are probably the most common accommodation option available in Utrecht. There is a range of different apartment living options available in both modern and older complexes. One thing to be aware of when looking for apartments is that Utrecht has a huge student population which means some apartment buildings can get quite loud at times. However, this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue when looking at places further away from the areas surrounding the university.
Most family homes in Utrecht’s suburbs are terraced houses which are two or three storeys high, with a front and back garden. They are typically grouped in small blocks of three or more identical homes which are adjoined. Terraced houses tend to be a good option for those with small families that require more space than can be found in a regular apartment.
Semi-detached and detached houses
Those with a bigger budget might be interested in looking at semi-detached and detached housing options which are more likely to be found in outlying suburbs or the countryside that surrounds Utrecht. These properties tend to have more spacious rooms and ample garden space.
Finding accommodation in Utrecht
Expats who’ve been hired to work for a large international company based in Utrecht are likely to find that their employer will provide some assistance when it comes to house hunting. Often, this includes support from an external relocation company in the Netherlands.
For those going it alone, the best place to start the house search would be online property portals. Anyone planning on relocating to Utrecht can use online resources to get an idea of the type of property options available to them and the price of rentals.
However, considering the competition for property in Utrecht, combined with the language barrier that might be encountered by those that don’t speak Dutch, using a real estate agent is the best option for most new arrivals. Rental agents in Utrecht will have in-depth knowledge about the local property market and are best placed to help expats find a house or apartment that meets their requirements.
Renting accommodation in Utrecht
When renting a property in Utrecht, expats should look out for a lease agreement that suits them and their expected duration of stay in the city. Expats who know when they plan on leaving Utrecht may opt for a lease with a fixed period and set end date, while others may prefer an open-ended lease, valid for an indefinite period.
The format of lease agreements in Utrecht may vary slightly depending on the landlord or agency, but it must include the cost of the rental and what is included in that price, the length of the contract, any stipulations regarding the maintenance of the property, the date on which the rent will be increased and the notice period required to terminate the contract.
Usually, a deposit equivalent to one or two (and sometimes three) months’ rent will be required to secure a rental contract.
It's important to note that utilities and municipal taxes are not always included so the tenant may be required to make additional payments on top of their monthly rental.