As well as historically being a popular student city, Utrecht is fast becoming one of the most attractive places to live in the Netherlands. The city not only offers the amenities found in most big cities, but it's also full of character and retains a small-town feel. Moreover, the cost of living in Utrecht is a fraction of what one would pay in Amsterdam, for instance.
These drawcards have brought an influx of 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, and, as a result, finding suitable accommodation can be a bit of an uphill battle.
Types of accommodation in Utrecht
The type of housing a person would opt for depends on several factors, including whether they are moving to Utrecht with a family, their budget and lifestyle priorities.
Furnished and unfurnished housing options are both available in Utrecht. There are plenty of shops to purchase inexpensive furniture from, so there should be little need to ship furniture unless expats are looking to settle in the Netherlands permanently.
Apartments are probably the most common accommodation option in Utrecht, and there is a wide variety available in both modern and older complexes. Something to be aware of when looking for apartments is that Utrecht has a huge student population, meaning some buildings can get quite loud. That said, this should not be too much of an issue when looking at places further away from the university.
Most family homes in Utrecht’s suburbs are terraced two- to three-storey houses with front and back gardens. They are typically grouped in small blocks of three or more identical and adjoined homes. Terraced houses tend to be a good option for those with small families who require more space than is typical in a regular apartment.
Semi-detached and detached houses
Those with a bigger budget might be interested in semi-detached and detached houses, which are more likely to be found in outlying suburbs or the countryside. These properties tend to have more spacious rooms and ample garden space.
Finding accommodation in Utrecht
Expats who work for a large international company based in Utrecht will likely receive house hunting assistance from their employer. Often, this includes support from an external relocation company in the Netherlands.
For those going it alone, the best place to start the search would be online property portals. Anyone planning on relocating to Utrecht can use online resources to get an idea of the property options available at different price points.
But, considering the competition for property in Utrecht combined with the language barrier that might be encountered by those who don’t speak Dutch, using a real-estate agent is the best option for most new arrivals. Real-estate agents in Utrecht will have extensive knowledge about the local property market and can help expats find a home well suited to their needs.
Renting accommodation in Utrecht
When renting a property in Utrecht, expats should look for a lease agreement that suits them and the duration of their stay in the city. Expats who know when they are leaving Utrecht may opt for a fixed period lease, 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. Be that as it may, it must include the basics such as rental costs, the services included in the rental price, the length of the contract, maintenance stipulations, the rental increase date and the notice period.
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 in the rental price, so the tenant may be required to make additional payments.