A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
If you already have found housing then you can skip directly to tip # 2 – if not then, first thing is first, do not panic. I’ve included some useful tips that could solve your housing sitch.
I know housing is a pain (I’ve experienced this myself) however, for February starters there’s still some time. Below are some Facebook groups you should join to try and find a room or a studio/apartment via social media.
Join these ASAP and start by both posting and turning on notifications for these groups. Comment on a person’s post – if it is of interest to you – with a simple “PM 🙂 ” that way they will know to find you in their inbox.
If you still cannot find a place in Leiden – ever consider living in The Hague? I lived there my first three months at Leiden University and I honestly enjoyed every moment of it. So you can easily expand your horizons into neighbouring cities. The Hague is a short 10 minute train ride away and it takes you directly to Leiden Centraal, with trains leaving from both Den Haag Hollands Spoor (HS) or Den Haag Centraal. The University is then a couple of minutes walking depending on your faculty.
And the train card…this leads me onto my next tip.
2. OV Chipkaart
One thing I wish I would have known before I came to the Netherlands, especially whiIe was living in The Hague was to apply for a Personal OV Chipkaart. You can purchase a personal chipkaart online, click on this link: https://www.ns.nl/en/season-tickets/dal-voordeel.html and it will take you to the Netherlands Spoorwegen (NS) site, giving you 40% discounts. Buying this may be somewhat complicated, but don’t worry my 3rd tip will help.
3. Dutch Bank Account
I would advise setting up a Dutch bank account, either with ING, RoboBank (very good for students) or ABN AMRO – these are the main Dutch banks. It’s crazy because most places here accept Masetro payment, whereas most of Europe (and the World), accept Visa or American Express. I was shocked by this, not many places accept these forms of payment, so I quickly overcame this by booking an appointment to set up an account. I have an ING account, mainly because you can transfer money both in the Netherlands and abroad in a matter of minutes:
4. Burgerservicenummer (BSN)
Once moving to Leiden, you should register (if you’re staying longer than 3 months or even if you want a Dutch bank account or mobile phone contract) at the Town Hall! It’s quick and easy, make an appointment online and within 2-3 weeks you should have your BSN number. They have a useful English website: https://gemeente.leiden.nl/english/
5. Second hand goodies!
…Finally when you’ve officially done most of the paperwork you can relax and maybe purchase some cute things for your new apartment or room. Check out the Facebook group, where some old students or exchange students sell their furniture, books, kitchen utensils, washing machines, bikes (which you will need for sure) here:
Last but not least, Leiden is super cosy and there are always house warming/parties/gatherings, so after all this you can finally relax with your girl (or guy) friends. The picture below is when a friend of mine finally moved into her new place (she definitely went through all these steps before we got here) and she had a small gathering!