By Augusta Arron, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands
As many know navigating the housing market as a student in Amsterdam right now is a little stressful to say the least. While everyone I know from Manchester has faced no problem with it at all, getting a place through UvA’s limited accommodation lottery system, I made a very silly mistake in the process which in sum left me basically homeless. In this blog I’ll run you through how this happened and offer some tips you don’t follow in my mindless footsteps.
To set the scene… it’s well into summer 2023 and I’m feeling positive; I have a summer full of festivals and other antics to indulge in and I’m feeling excited for my next chapter in Amsterdam. I had an image in my head of cycling around the canals, studying at one of the most amazing unis in Europe, and cosying up in my quaint traditional dutch house in the evenings (I’ve attached pictures of my friend’s house which fit this image- stunning in my eyes). However this naive romanticising is what led to my downfall.
Knowing my ability to secure a chance of receiving student accommodation through uni seemed like the reliable (and satisfactory) way to go about it- and it was also my only option really. However something kept telling me it was the safe option and my dream of bagging the perfect canal house was still a possibility somehow … despite the small hurdle of the housing crisis. So when it came round to applying through my uni’s lottery draw I paid the (considerably large) deposit and put my name down for a studio in a large student building, thinking it was reasonably well located and would do for the year.
However as the summer time innocently marched on, my nonchalant attitude got the better of me. I took my luck in receiving university accommodation for granted and kept romanticising my life in the perfect house. This meant when the deadline came to pay the rest of the deposit, just one month before I was meant to fly out, I completely missed it. In my defence, I did think I had paid the deposit during the application, however after many attempts and excuses on the phone with the university, they repeatedly told me they couldn’t do anything for me.
After a comparably stress-filled week to the rest of my summer, full of of endless searching, I managed to find an overpriced, box-like room in a private student accommodation. Knowing I would want to move out I booked it for half the year, and now, since being there only a few months I have finally found a place for the longer term, with a girl I met needing someone to takeover for her friend. This place fits somewhat into my image of my quaint canal home, and being the only one of my friends having a proper house for the year I feel lucky to have it.
Was it worth it? I guess… but the stress and endless persistence makes me feel like I deserve it. I would, however, not want anyone to go through the same as I did, and I know its sadly the reality of what thousands of students in Amsterdam go through every year.
Instead I would recommend you go with your head, not your heart. Stay on top of your admin over summer and be thankful for any housing you’re offered, even if it doesn’t meet your expectations of your idealistic year abroad. You could look on websites like Kamernet or maybe Facebook if you want to live in a shared house … but you have to be so careful of scams… DO NOT make any payments to anyone before you see the actual property. This means you might have fly over and see some places before you move, but it’s a price you must be willing to pay – because house sharing is also maybe twice the price of student accommodation by the way.
And after all, where your’e staying doesn’t sum up your experience abroad- it’s all about who you meet there and what you learn from it!