Daniel’s personal experience and advice on student housing
Cities in The Netherlands vary from large ones like The Hague or Eindhoven to smaller ones such as Delft and Maastricht.
There are some cities that are heavily populated with students, such as Groningen where a lot of international students come to study. Statistically, every fifth person in Groningen is a student. This gives it the highest student population density in all of the Netherlands. This makes it amazing to live in. Most of the night life is catered to the students.
It’s cool, it’s fun and it’s almost always crowded. Just like the rest of Groningen, unfortunately. Housing in Groningen is particularly difficult, since the Universities do not offer their own accommodations for the students and expect them to find housing on their own. They do not keep track of housing statistics and the number of students they accept. This leads to severe overcrowding problems.
(In the past year of 2018, they started offering small camps and containers for students. They are grossly overpriced and in extremely bad living conditions).
There is no exact time to start looking for housing, but if I had to dedicate a time it would be immediately. A large number of students start looking for housing around March, which is a few months in advance of the Academic year. Those are usually the students who have a bigger chance to get nice housing quite easy, since they have their pick of the litter and have the luxury of time. Whereas the majority of the students start looking around June or even July. This is very late to say the least. Not only is most of the housing unavailable, but there are tons of scammers taking advantage of their desperation.
There are many offers for apartments or houses available for students, but not all of them allow international students. Some have restrictions for students, others require a fixed monthly income to cover their contract requirements,be that from the students themselves or from their parents. Objectively looking at how things work here, you will most likely be sharing your home with few other students. Your roommates will be of various cultures, ethnicities and believes, which in most cases is a very good thing.
The reason I mention you will most likely be sharing your home is because a lot of students have their own preferences on living alone and tons of other details about their home.
Here is what happens when you are picky in finding a home in Groningen – you don’t. Either you have the finances to pay for something very specific and expensive (and in advance) or you settle down and try to be happy with what you have, by learning to share a home.
The student life is not about living in luxury with mommy and daddy’s money. It is about your education. This education is not only what you receive in university, but also everything that surrounds it. You learn how to live and sustain yourself as an adult. You gain coping mechanisms, problem management and like it or not, you learn a lot about stress and how to control it. A student graduates with two degrees:
One in their Bachelor/Masters/PhD
One in survival
Do not miss out on this vital education because you wanted a back yard. I wish you luck!