This article is going to focus on the things you need to know before starting your life in the Netherlands, as well it can be useful for those students who already live in the Netherlands and just curious to know more.
Starting life in a new country can be stressful, and especially if you have never lived by yourself and even more, in a new country.
To make your life easier, in this article I would like to summarise the main aspects you would like to know before you arrive in the Netherlands.
The first category we are going to discuss is housing, as having the roof above your head arranged before the arrival makes life already much more straightforward, isn’t it?
To find accommodation in the Netherlands, and especially in the student city such as The Hague, Delft or Rotterdam can be a challenge on its own but don’t worry, we are going to help you with that.
The first advice for your success: Start looking for accommodation 1-2 Months before you arrive in the country!
There are different options available for the students:
Living in a private room while sharing the house and its facilities with other students/people.
This option is the cheapest one, starting from 350 euro you can get the place to stay, BUT be careful and DO NOT transfer money before you have arrived and seen the room yourself, as a scam isn’t a myth in the housing business.
The biggest portal for finding a student room in the Netherlands is Kamernet with the updates published regularly by the house owners and students.
Living in a student studio on your own.
Living in a studio is the dream-option for many students, as you don’t have to share the facilities with anyone, and most of the time you live a few minutes away from the university if your student studio is located in the same city as the university.
The most prominent organization managing student housing in the Netherlands is DUWO. Often, the university has an agreement with DUWO and in advance reserves, several rooms for their student, including the THUAS, therefore, make sure you address the housing issue as soon as you registered for a study - check the details here: https://www.duwo.nl/en/i-search/accommodate/accommodate-location-the-hague/the-hague-university-of-applied-sciences
As soon as the university arranged the stay in the DUWO accommodation for you, it is recommended that you register on the website ROOM.NL. It would allow you to re-apply for the same type of accommodation after your contract with the university expires (Usually the contract is eligible for only one year).
IMPORTANT - If happened that you were too late to get the housing arranged by the university and have to do it on your own - register on the website ROOM.NL and apply for the studio yourself. Often, there can be hundreds of people pretending on the same studio, but DON’T THINK THAT THERE IS NO CHANCE - There is still the chance even if you are number 100 on the list. Often the preference for the room is given to the international first-year students, and it means that you have high chances to get the studio still.
The price for such a studio ranges between 500 - 800 euros per month.
Renting a room in a student hotel.
Renting a room in a student hotel can be an attractive option too. Starting from 831 euro a month you can get a fully furnished room and stay in the place with access to the gym, workspaces, laundry, security, cafe - sound attractive, isn’t it?
Another benefit of such accommodation is the inspirational atmosphere, ability to become a part of the community, and be surrounded by beauty if you’re as much an aesthete as I do.
To get the room in a student hotel is very simple and can be done at any time, especially if you are running out of time and have to find the place immediately.
If you are interested - check the link: https://www.thestudenthotel.com
Renting an apartment.
Renting an apartment is another option, although, from the suggested alternatives, it’s the most expensive one if you decide to rent it on your own.
The price ranges from 800 to 2000 euros per month.
Often the deposit of 1-2 months is required, and you have to fulfill the requirements, such as the availability of a job or a certain amount of money available on the bank-account allowing you to pay the rent every month.
If you are looking for an apartment, these websites can help you to find what you are looking for:
Pararius (The Hague): https://www.pararius.com/apartments/den-haag
The public transport system in the Netherlands is excellent - wherever you need, you can quickly get there either by a train, tram, bus, metro or ferry. For doing that, you need a special transportation card - called OV-chipkaart. There are two types of such cards: 'anonymous OV-chipkaart' or 'personalized OV-chipkaart’ - the difference between those two you can read below.
For charging either of these cards, you can use your credit or debit card, and in some cases cash. The card can be charged everywhere on the station, as well as in other shops. To find the place where you could charge your OV-chipkaart - check this website to find the location closest to your residence place - https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/service-and-contact/service-points-finder.htm
Be careful and don’t forget to check-in and check-out. The signal of the ticket reader would indicate whether you checked-in or not. Additionally, on display, you can read how much credit left on the card so that you could charge it before the next trip.
ATTENTION: In the trains, cards and tickets are being regularly checked by the conductor, therefore do make sure to check-in not to get the penalty of 50 euro.
Anonymous vs Personalised OV-chipkaart
The ‘anonymous’ OV-chipkaart cost 7.50 and can be bought almost on any medium or a big station in the Netherlands (For example Den Haag HS or Den Haag Central).
The disadvantage of such a card is that when you want to travel by train, you have to have a minimum of 20 euro on your ‘anonymous- card’, as otherwise, you won’t be able to check-in on the train station. You will be able to check-in on the bus, metro, or tram, even if you have less than 20 euro. The rule of 20 euro is applicable only for the trains.
If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for a long time and do consider that you will frequently be traveling with public transportation, the ‘personalized OV-chipkaart’ is the best option. Why?
With a personal travel card, you can add a traveling product of your choice to it. An example of such a traveling product is Weekend Free (check the link ) that for 34 euro a month would allow you to travel on a train everywhere in the Netherlands.
Another advantage of having a personal OV card is the availability of the age discount, which can be up to 40%.
If you don’t want to bother charging your card all the time, you can also request the function of automatically re-load every time you’re running out of credit on your OV-chipkaart.
Apply for such a card you can online through the website - https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/purchase-an-ov-chipkaart/apply-for-personal-ov-chipkaart.htm
If you don’t have an anonymous or personal OV-chipkaart, you can also buy a single-use ticket from NS ticket vending machines located in multiple places on the stations or at the service desk.
To plan your travel, install the following applications on your phone:
‘9292’ – that works for all types of travel – see also the website: https://9292.nl
'NS app’ - helps to plan the train trip and allows to purchase the train tickets through the app. Check the website: https://www.ns.nl
When planning to live and study in another country, often we have to leave our friends behind, and therefore at the beginning, it could feel quite lonely, but in the Netherlands to get to know new people shouldn’t be an issue. Once the study starts, you will get to know many different, interesting people from all around the world. If you don’t want to limit yourself by only getting to know people from the study, then these platforms can help you:
When I just moved into the Netherlands, my knowledge of English was terrible, and I didn’t know anyone who could help me to improve. That’s how I discovered Couchsurfing. The idea of the website is that you can find a one-night accommodation to stay over while visiting another country, but it also has another purpose - to meet up with new people. Many people are willing to meet and show you the city when in exchange you can treat them at the end with a coffee or tea in the lovely cafe. If you liked the person, you could always suggest them to meet another time, and that’s how you will earn your first acquaintance in the Netherlands.
If you are interested - check the link: https://www.couchsurfing.com
Another platform for meeting new people called MeetUp. The website offers a range of various events that are designed to get to know new people. The activities can include workshops in art, music, discussions on suggested topics, philosophical events, board games, language practicing events, etc. I have been to a couple of events, and it was always a cool experience. If you have any specific interest that you would like to develop - then this site is definitely what you need.
Check the link here: https://www.meetup.com
When the study already started, become a part of a student organization. The student organization of Safety and Security Management Study is Centuria that organizes various events related to study, as well as multiple social events oriented on getting to know each other better. If you want to get to know your classmates better outside the study environment and learn more – definitely become a member and join the events. Check the Gallery to see the pictures.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences offers a wide range of organizations, meaning that if your interests go beyond your chosen program, you can always become a member of the second or third organization – your choice is not limited here. In my first year, I have been a part of the Invictus organization that is a part of the International Law Program. Through that organization, I got to know a few very talented, inspiring people and it wouldn’t be the case if I would decide not to join, because it was not what my initial study was.
In general, the Netherlands is a wonderful country for meeting new people. There are many expats, international students, as well as many Dutch people open to get to know people from foreign countries. Often, there is a tendency for a Dutch student to stick with Dutch students, when International student sticks with Internationals. Unfortunately, this is a case in our study too, therefore, to get to know the Dutch culture and its people better – I would recommend trying to get to know as many people as possible in the first year of the study. Don’t limit yourself to a few people only, but rather sit in different places during the lectures, start the conversations with your neighbors first, work on the projects in different groups to get to know as many people as possible, and then you will be rewarded with the best network and great friends of all.
To conclude the part of this section – I want to say, Go for it. Become a member of as many organizations as you want, go out, meet people, start talking first, suggest meeting somewhere and you won’t notice how your whole agenda will be filled with the coffee appointments. Of course, after study!
4. Free time
When you have free time, it’s rather challenging to come up with the things not to do, than to do. The Netherlands is a small country, and nevertheless, it has a lot to offer to its guests and residents.
If you are living in The Hague, you can:
Go to the beach of Scheveningen and take a walk along the coastline.
Go to visit the museums such as the Mauritshuis, Louwman museum, Madurodam, etc.
Take your laptop and go to work in a beautiful café.
Invite your university acquaintance to the Pathe cinema.
Cycle around the city, get lost, and find your way back.
Walk around the city center
Visit the Peace Palace
Go to the Japanese Garden at Clingendael
On the weekends, together with friends, you could go to:
- Go to attraction parks, such as Efteling, Walibi.
- Go to the safari park Beekse Bergen
- Go to the zoo (Rotterdam: https://www.diergaardeblijdorp.nl/en/ )
- Visit the transit camp Westerbork
The Hague, as well as the Netherland itself, has a lot to offer, with everyone being able to find something closer to their interest and preferences.
5. How to save up the money?
When looking on the list of the places that you could visit in your free time, you might wonder – where am I going to get all the money for it? Well, in this section you will get the answer to your question.
As the rent is usually one of the most significant expenses for the student, it will be the first category I going to cover for you.
If you are living in the DUWO accommodation (see above), then you can be eligible for a rental benefit. It means that you don’t have to pay the whole sum of money every month, but only a part of it. If your rent is, for example, 500 euro – then you will get from the government 180 euro back! Sounds impressive, isn’t it?
But how does it work?
First of all, check on this website, whether you fit the requirements for the benefit.
Usually, you do, but still, make sure to check!
If you are, then you need to come to the second step: registration in the municipality, so that you could get your burgerservicenummer, BSN, or in English, Citizen Service Number.
After you received your BSN number, then you can apply for DigiD code that would allow you to apply for the housing benefit on the website Toeslagen.nl
Make sure that you apply before 1 of September.
If you have any questions – feel free to contact me: T.A.Garkava@student.hhs.nl and I will do my best to help you with this question.
When you applied for your housing benefit, you can also apply for the health benefit following the same procedure, but only if your insurance company is Dutch!
If you want to save on the transport costs, use a bicycle. Cycle everywhere in the city instead of taking the bus or tram. Even if you have never cycled in your home country, don’t worry, you will learn to do it here and what can motivate you more than saved 30-50 euro a month on the transport costs. Also, you can additionally save money on the gym, as cycling every day is a good exercise on its own. If you are looking for a place to purchase the bicycle, check:
- Markplaats - https://www.marktplaats.nl, where you could for cheap buy the second-hand bike.
- Swapfiets - https://swapfiets.nl/en/, company that for 15 euro every month would provide you with a good quality bike, as well as the regular service and opportunity to swap the bike anytime something is malfunctioning.
- Also, ask the locals or fellow students, they definitely know where to get the bike for cheap in the city.
Free time - Using your student discount, you can save on the cinema tickets, museum tickets as well as on the tickets to various public places.
If you want to save up money on the food, make sure to check the local markets. Also, some supermarkets in the country are relatively cheaper than the others and often have good deals.
They have a good choice as well as the prices affordable for everyone.
Another trick is to purchase a reusable bottle, to avoid buying plastic bottles every time you feel thirsty. In the Netherlands, it is safe to drink from a tap, and therefore you can refill your bottle literally everywhere. Also, it’s good for the environment.
I hope that this blog-article was useful for you, and if you have any questions or feel like you need some help – don’t hesitate to contact me or everyone from the team Centuria. We will be glad to help you :)