While The Hague may not be as diverse as Amsterdam, it’s still home to large expat communities and it’s not uncommon to find people from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures living alongside each other in the city.
There are a number of accommodation options available to suit anyone's needs, but demand is remarkably high, which has also driven up prices. Due to the short-term nature of most assignments, many expats opt to rent rather than buy property in The Hague.
Types of accommodation in The Hague
The two main types of housing in the Netherlands are social housing and free-market renting, or private housing. Expats earning an income below a specified threshold can apply for social housing. While the standard of these properties is generally decent, waiting lists in The Hague are long – sometimes up to four years long. So, while private accommodation is more costly, it may be the only alternative. Expats working in The Hague earning an income above the state-specified threshold will have to look to private rentals.
As space and housing stock are limited, most people live in apartments or row houses as opposed to standalone properties. Most homes in The Hague come with a balcony, and ground-floor housing units may have access to a small garden, but it’s difficult to find places with designated parking spots, so those who own a car will need to look into renting a bay at an additional cost. That said, there are a host of transport options for getting around in The Hague, which makes owning a car unessential.
Well-off expats often rent luxury spacious flats or serviced apartments. These fully-furnished spaces usually come equipped with all the services and amenities of a hotel – including cleaning services, gym facilities and on-site restaurants – and the privacy of an apartment. Serviced apartments can be found throughout The Hague and are oriented to business travellers and expats on short-term stays in the city.
To save on expenses, many residents in The Hague prefer a simple studio apartment, renting a room or staying in a flatshare.
Although expat-oriented accommodation or housing designed for students may have some furnishings, such as major appliances and beds, many properties come unfurnished in The Hague. Expats will need to invest in some furniture, whether they buy it brand new or second-hand, to make their space feel like home.
Finding accommodation in The Hague
To get an idea of the market, expats can look at options on estate agency websites and property portals, such as IamExpat Media and Pararius, before they move to the Netherlands. Real-estate agents are good sources of information: they have in-depth knowledge of the local housing market and most agencies in The Hague share listings, which will give expats access to a bigger pool of potential homes. It’s important to note that, in the Netherlands, the tenant is responsible for paying the agent’s fee, which is usually equivalent to a month’s rent.
Relocation firms are another great route to follow. Though expensive, these companies offer a full suite of personalised relocation services, from assistance in getting visas for the Netherlands to house hunting and hooking up utilities.
Networking with local connections in The Hague and using social media could also help put prospective tenants in contact with landlords.
Expats who fall below a given income threshold and are eligible for social housing should contact the Municipality of The Hague and visit the official website for more on how to join the housing queue. Note that this is not a quick solution, and securing social housing can take years.
Renting accommodation in The Hague
When renting accommodation in The Hague, expats should confirm what exactly is included in their contract.
Expats will either sign a fixed-period or indefinite tenancy agreement. The former sets an agreed duration for rent, usually six to 12 months, while the latter has no fixed termination date and is open-ended. Expats must be certain about notice periods, and those signing fixed-period contracts are advised to include a clause allowing early termination in certain contexts.
We also recommend that the lease is in written form and signed by both parties. While verbal agreements are legally viable, it's hard to obtain proof of them. Written documentation detailing property policy and responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord is best. When signing a lease, expats will likely need to provide a citizen service number known as the BSN (burgerservicenummer), and in some cases an employment contract and/or bank statement.
Security deposits worth one to three months of rent are generally requested in The Hague. Provided the property is left in the same state without any damages – aside from inevitable wear and tear – this fee will be returned when tenants move out. To ensure an accurate inspection is made and that deposits are returned fairly, an inspection list and inventory must be provided along with the lease. This will detail the condition of the property and describe any furniture for easy comparison when housing agents or landlords later inspect the property.
Utilities are usually an additional expense and responsibility of the tenant, while landlords cover general maintenance and insurance. However, expats should find out about the relevant electricity company, and phone and internet service provider.