THE LEIDENER

A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Housing in The Hague Part 1

It’s the time of year again! The time of sun, beach and parties, summer holiday!! But for many students this is also a time of stress and anxiety, the time of house hunting. With many students trying to find a new place before the contracts for your current houses ends in August, or because you just moved here and prefer to not live in a student hostel during your first year. Unfortunately the Netherlands doesn’t seem to know how to handle the spike in rental seekers at the beginning of the semester. The situation is so bad around the Netherlands that in both Amsterdam and Groningen students were housed in tents for several months during both 2017 and 2018. Fortunately the situation in the Hague does not seem to have reached the same dreadful levels, but here too students are finding it harder and harder each year to find housing, especially if you don’t know where to search! With this article I hope I can give you some clarity on how to find housing in The Hague, and specifically explore the Dutch concept of hospiteren


a young man, assumed to be a student sitting on the sidewalk against a wall. Surrounded by suitcases, university books and other personal items , petting a dog lying on the left of  hum, behind the dog a bike

campaign poster from a student political party about student homelessness for the municipality elections of 2018 (satire or reality?)


Hospiteren

The concept of hospiteren has suprised and possibly confused many international students who have just arrived in the Netherlands. The Dutch tradition in selecting new roommates for studenthousing is somewhat unique to the Netherlands. Unlike many other forms of renting, in the case of studenthouses, it is usually not the landlord who interviews potential renters, but instead the people living there. If you’ve ever had a group job interview, you have an idea of what hospiteren will be like. During a hospiteering night, several people that applied for the room are invited over to see the building and meet the current roommates, then at the hand of social activities, or speed dates the inhabitants get to meet potentials, talk to them and see if they feel a person fits into the house. and will get allong with the roommates. Hospiteren has both benefits and disadvantages, on one hand you, as a person looking for a room, get to experience the admosphere of the house and the roommates before you move in, thus the chance of ending up with roommates that are completely incompatable with you is reduced significantly, additionally if you are selected, you know that the majority of the roommates have positive feelings about you. At the other end of the spectrum, is that you need to be available on the hospiteer night, and rescheduling is often times not a possibility, as an international student this can obviously cause issues, as you might not arrive until the beginning of a semester. If this is the case, consider coming to the Hague a short while before a semester starts so you have the time to attend several hospiteer avonden. Another point to be aware off is that the selection process is somewhat biased towards those with stronger social skills, thus if you have a more introverted personality and are quick to be shy or do not like group settings, you might find it harder to conduct yourself in these settings. BUT! you know what they say; a good preparation is half the work! So here are some tips to prepare and get through a hospiteer night:

  • Cliche but true, BE YOURSELF! Yes, try to be your best version, but don’t pretend to be someone you are not, because it will bite you in the ass. First of all the chance that you slip up and be noticed when talking to 5 or 6 people in one night is pretty big, so your chances of getting the room will already be reduced, but also if you do manage to get the room based onr false pretences, you will at one point or another find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where your roommates are expecting you to act in one way while you are nothing like that. Emphasise the quantities that make you you, and will make you a fun roommates.
  • Talk to all the roommates! Hospiteering is usually a majority based voting system, where every roommate gets to vote on their prefered candidate, thus the more people you’ve spoken to, the more people who might vote for you. Ask questions about the house, the people living there and whether there are things that the roommates do together. Additionally try to find some shared interests with the people you’re talking to, people tend to be biased towards others that they have something in common with, so use this! Take on an active attitude and innitiative the conversation with people to get noticed.
  • Think about your attitudes towards the other candidates! It can say a lot about you if you act hostile towards the other candidates, and it usually isn’t in your favour. Make some small talk and you might even get some friends out of the situation!
part of a group of students sitting in a circle in conversation in a well lit room

Just a snapshot of what a hospiteer night can look like

  • Humour! While hosipteering might feel like an interview, it is also a social event, so try to keep a bit of humour in it to break the ice. Weird questions like “What superpower would you have?” are a common tactic to break the ice, and also to allow roommates to measure your sense of humour, so add some to your conversation, but also keep a healthy balance of humour and seriousness.
  • Do you actually see yourself living in the house? I realise that for many they’re already happy to get a room, but student houses are often meant to be your place of residence for several years, so if you do not see yourself living there for at least a year, the student house you’re applying for might not be your preferred living space. Again, ask questions to find out if this place is the one for you!

Studenthousing can be found in several places, including in Facebook groups here and here, but also through websites such as Kamers or Kamernet.

Other places to find housing

Student housing isn’t the only form of housing that you can search for. Looking on the private market for rooms or studios, and renting a house with a group of friends are also common tactics employed by student to get housing. Below I summed up several other places where you can find housing if hospitering doesn’t sound appealing for you.

DUWO

Let’s start with where you can find student housing. In the Netherlands student housing is primarily organised through the housing organisation DUWO, which provides affordable housing in cities with higher education facilities, and universities often work together with them. To get housing through DUWO, you need to sign up, after which you can apply to appartments and rooms throughout the city. DUWO works based on a priority system, taking into account how far away you live from the city you’re studying in, and how long you have been signed up. While DUWO is one of the safest agencies to sign up through 

Facebook

Above I already linked to two of the popular housing groups for the Hague, but searching for Housing + The Hague will give you many more results for groups that you can join to find an appartment, studio or room. If you go looking for a house through these groups, do make sure that you can register at the address and have a contract, as you will have to be registered at a Dutch address to be a legal resident.

Private renting

You can also try to find a place through private landlords, this approach will give some more assurance that you are working with a proper rental agency or landlord than looking through Facebook, where everyone can post something, and the potential for scams is higher. Staedion is a rental organisation that specialises in providing student housing in the private sector. Another site is Funda, although the appartments and studios rented out on this site are not specifically focussed on students, so there might be additional requirements for getting a rental place.

 

peace palace

Will this be your dream house?

Leiden University

If you are a first year student, know that the university can offer you support in finding housing in your first year, for a fee (Dutch greedyness, I know). Check out  this site. The amount of houses available through this service is very limited though, and does not come cheap, as the university tries to stimulate students to find their own housing.

 

Hopefully this has given you some insight in how to survive the search for housing in The Hague. I will in the future also post an article introducing the basic rights that you have as a renter and where to find legal advise as part of the housing in The Hague series. If you already have any legal questions you want an answer to, please leave them in the comments, then I will try to find the answer to these!

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