Student housing options in Groningen and how to find them

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Unlike in the UK, where most universities will arrange housing for you, Dutch universities are not obliged to do this for their own students. It is your own responsibility to find a place to stay during your degree. Here we give some advice to help you navigate through Groningen’s housing market in the most stress-free way possible. 

There are two main universities in Groningen: University of Groningen (RuG) and Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS). Neither has on-campus housing. Most of their students rent rooms in independent student halls, or from a private landlord, and commute to the university every day. It is not too expensive to live within a 20-minute walk or 10-minute bike ride of the main campuses.

25% of the population in Groningen are students, the highest proportion in The Netherlands. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the local housing market caters to residents with needs for affordable and flexible accommodation. However, in recent years the government in Groningen has implemented the “15%” rule, which means that only 15% of the houses in a street are allowed to be student hours. The idea is that students will be better integrated to the local community. The problem is it creates a squeeze.

Finding a room in Groningen is easier than in Leiden, Amsterdam or Utrecht. However, we recommend that you start looking 3-5 months before moving to the city. Your options are much more limited right before the beginning of an academic year.

Here are the most common student housing options for international students in Groningen.

SSH Student Housing

SSH is an independent, non-profit student housing provider. Both RuG and Hanze UAS reserve a couple of thousand rooms in SSH student halls under the “SSH Short Stay” programme for new international students. If you are accepted to a bachelor’s or master’s programme at these two universities, you are eligible to apply for an SSH room for 10 to 12 months (the first two semesters of your degree).

SSH student housing consists of single rooms, double rooms and studios, with shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry and common areas. As of the 2017 – 2018 academic year, prices range from €272 to €650 per month. Most rooms cost around €360 per month. You will have to pay a reservation fee, as well as the first and last month of rent, at the time of your reservation.

The greatest advantage of SSH student housing is that you can arrange it while still in the UK. The entire registration process is done online. For the 2018/2019 academic year, SSH started accepting booking requests from Hanze UAS students from 7th May and from RuG students from 15th May. Hanze UAS started approving housing registrations from 14th May.

SSH housing is the most convenient option for first-year international students because the rooms are fully furnished, and the rent includes all bills. In each SSH student house, there is residence assistant. They will be your first contact before you arrive in your room and will welcome you to the building as soon as you arrive. At SSH student halls, you will live in a diverse community with students from all over the world. It’s a fantastic social experience and good opportunity to make friends.

The only drawback of SSH student housing is that it is a short-stay option. Your rental contract is for a maximum of 12 months. After that, you will need to find a new place yourself.

SSH student housing is extremely popular. RuG has confirmed that a third of its allocation was taken in the first week of registrations for 2018 and there is currently a seven to eight week delay in dealing with requests.

How to apply for SSH Student Housing

Step 1

You start by registering an account on the SSH website.

On the webpage you will see two options: "Short Stay Accommodations" and "Regular Accommodations". If you are a RuG or Hanze UAS, select “Register for Short Stay Accommodations”. Students from other institutions should select “Register for Regular Accommodations”.

Please note that you do NOT have to fill out your student number when registering at SSH; you can leave this field open. Once you have submitted the registration form, you receive an email from SSH with a link to activate your account and create a passport.

Step 2

The next step is to get your registration approved by the university. After registering on the SSH website, you should automatically receive an email from your university with information about how to finalise your registration. Follow their instructions to get the approval.

Step 3

Once your registration is approved by the university, you can immediately proceed with booking your accommodation.

You will have access to the full SSH accommodation directory to check the rent offers. When browsing the site, make sure you enter the name of your university and select “Full Year” for Rental Period. Once you find a room you like, you can make a reservation request. During this process, you will automatically sign the contract for rent.

Please note that the period of rent equals the period of your education in the first year. If you want to arrive a few days earlier, please ask the local SSH office by mail whether it is possible to rent your room a few days earlier.

Step 4

Next, you need to make a down payment. After submitting a reservation, you have to pay the reservation fee and the first and last month of rent within 24 hours. Payment can be made by MasterCard or Visa.

Step 5

Finally, SSH will send you an e-mail to confirm your booking.

The Student Hotel

The Student Hotel is located in the city centre of Groningen and has the most international community. It is open to everyone but offers special rates to students. You can book a room here for a few days while searching for or waiting to move to your long-term accommodation, or you can rent it for longer terms (5, 10 or 12 months) with the Student Package. You can stay at The Student Hotel at any stage of your degree for a maximum of one year.

Rooms in this hotel come in three different types: standard (18 square metre area size), panorama (18 square metre), and suite (24 square metre). At the high end of the market, the rent comes at €774, €821 and €960 per month respectively, including bills. The rate is different each month because you pay a daily rate which is due at the end of the month. Except for the suites that have their own small kitchens, all the rooms are equipped with all mod cons typical of a hotel including en-suite bathroom, a king-sized bed, WiFi internet connection, air conditioner, and a TV. Additionally, you have access to a shared kitchen, laundry, study area and gym, as well as a custom bike.

Tenants enjoy a 20 percent discount on all the meals cooked at the hotel’s restaurant. In addition, their rooms and linens get cleaned once every month. What is more, there are weekly movie nights, and on special occasions such as Halloween, parties and fun events are organized for students. The Student Hotel has a limited amount of rooms on offer, so make sure to apply early before the semester starts.

Housing Corporations

Besides SSH, there are housing associations such as Lefier and Nijestee that offer rooms or houses to students. Their task is to serve people with low incomes, so students are favoured. As the rent is subsidised, at around €300 per month including bills, this is one of the cheapest student housing options. Unlike SSH, Lefier and Nijestee only provide unfurnished and partly furnished rooms.

Lefier and Nijestee allocate apartments on a first come first served basis and according to a point system. You collect points over time after signing up. The longer you are in the system, the more likely you get a place. You get 1 point a month, and normally you need around the 20/30 points (2-2,5 years) to get a room. However, Lefier has three buildings where you need fewer points.

Lefier and Nijestee housing is more suitable for students from the second year onwards, but if you run out of options when you first arrive in Groningen, it is worth visiting one of their offices as they may have last-minute rent offers.

How to apply for Lefier and Nijestee housing

Step 1

You need to register on the nl website to get access to both Lefier and Nijestee. It is also possible to register only with Lefier via their own website. There is an annual fee of €20.65 for holding an account on WoningNet and a one-off registration fee of €30 on Lefier.

Step 2

 

Once you have signed in you can see the house offers of the corporations.

XIOR Student Housing

XIOR has recently opened a student hall in Groningen. The building is located at Oosterhamrikkade 103-107, an 8-minute ride from Groningen’s city centre. It consists of 180 furnished studios. XIOR only lets to students. Unlike SSH, the minimum rental period is 12 months.

This year, the RuG reserves a number of studios at XIOR. The university will issue interested students with a unique code to make a reservation. If you are asked to fill in a code to book a studio but you are not a RuG student, you are not eligible for that studio.

Each studio comes with a private kitchen and bathroom, along with a double bed, wardrobe, desk, and television. You also have wifi, electronic locks and energy meters in your own studio. Additionally, you get access to a common study room and bike storage. A concierge will be present several times during the week.

Monthly rent ranges from €545 to €625, excluding bills, depending on the size of the studio. In addition to the rent, you will need to pay around €170 per month for energy and internet bills, service charges and washing machine usage. At the beginning of the tenancy, you will also pay a security deposit of €1,000, administration fee of €75,00 and cleaning fee of €150.

Private Housing

In Groningen, due to the limited number of student halls, the private market is the most important source for finding a room. If you want to try it out on your own and live in a private property – a house or a flat – in Groningen, then there are a few ways to go about this.

Funda, Pararius, and Direct Wonen websites list properties currently offered by landlords and estate agents. They are free to use and good for giving you an overview of the rental market, i.e the types of accommodation and locations available to you in Groningen. You will be able to contact the landlord or estate agent and arrange a hospiteren via these sites.

Another option is to try Kamernet, kamer.nl and Woning Target, the Dutch versions of Spareroom. You simply sign up with your information, where you want to live, a bit about you – including a picture if you like – and when you need to move by, and then you can search for rooms that fit your requirements. A lot of students advertise spare rooms in their houses directly on these sites, so there are no intermediary fees involved, and you are able to get to know your potential housemates a lot better.

A lot of landlords only communicate in Dutch, so international students may find it difficult to rent a room from them. To fix this problem, athomeingroningen.com, an online initiative by the Groningen municipality, is due to launch a new module in July 2018 which provides information about private room owners and landlords willing to let to international students.

Social media can also be a useful tool to look for private housing in Groningen, especially if you want to share a house with other students. Facebook groups like I need a room! Groningen, Free housing announcements in Groningen Rooms / Housing / Kamers Groningen and Roommate Groningen allow you to find people who are in the same boat with you. However, renting accommodation through Facebook or other social media sites can be a risk. Make sure to investigate thoroughly about who you communicate with and the address they advertise. Do not pay a large amount of money in advance, especially to bank accounts outside the Netherlands. 

If you’d rather go with the traditional method of using an estate agent, you can either visit their office directly, or browse their listings on these websites: Rotsvast, Expat Rentals, Student Stay, DC Wonen, Van der Meulen and Noorderlijk Woningvastgoed. Sometimes, you have to pay the agency before you can see their offer. If you decide to go with an agency you must be careful with the costs. In recent years, there have been significant changes to Dutch law with regard to agency services and fees. Many agencies demand illegal fees from potential tenants. It’s worth knowing that fees are only permitted when an agency has to make effort to find an accommodation for you. In most cases, this is one month’s rent plus 21% tax.

Useful resources

At home in Groningen

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