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How to navigate the tough competition for a room in Groningen

Have you signed up for a course at one of Groningen’s universities? That’s great! Now the next task on your to do list should be to find a room in the city ASAP.

Groningen’s popularity combined with its relatively small size creates the perfect conditions for some tough competition between all the different students that want to find a home in the city. You’ll be one of 20,000 students looking for a room at the same time. Give yourself an advantage and start your search as early as you can. Leaving room hunting till the last minute is a recipe for stress and disappointment. And what´s more, this year it´s advised by the University and Hanze UAS not to come to Groningen if you do not have housing arranged by August 2022. Come all set!

Every year, hundreds of students from all over the world manage to secure a room which means that this task is certainly not impossible. However, a number of others are understandably left feeling disappointed if they don’t manage to find a place to stay before their university course starts.

A basic room in this student city will cost you between €300 and €600 per month. While there’s no guaranteed method for finding a room in Groningen it’s helpful to learn from the experiences of others who’ve actually been through this process. That’s why we sat down with Maria, Rodrigo, and Linda to understand how students are dealing with the realities of housing in Groningen.

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Maria, 22, from Romania

It’s Maria’s third year in Groningen and she currently lives in the Korrewegwijk neighbourhood.

“It’s pretty quiet which I really appreciate. I moved into an apartment with my sister and a friend,” says Maria. “We have our own rooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a common space.”

Maria’s main method of looking for the apartment involved contacting lots of agencies.

“I found an agency that had rooms on its website, however they told me that I had to reserve a spot before they could contact me. But my mum called them and was very persistent. They soon came back to us with the apartment I have now. So being a bit persistent works,” explains Maria. She did have to start her contract period a month earlier than she had hoped for, but this is a trade-off worth considering.

Maria admits that in her home country it’s easier and cheaper to find a room, mainly because students often live with their parents or else are provided accommodation by their university. However, she says that the rooms in Romania aren’t exactly nicer than the ones she saw in Groningen.

Maria agrees with the message that the local universities are pushing: Make sure you have a room before coming to Groningen. Maria explains that you can still come here at your own risk, but that risk easily manifests itself in homelessness, cancelling your studies, and a pricy ticket to fly back to your home country. She herself has spoken with students in this very situation and has seen how stressful this can be. So manage your expectations and avoid putting yourself in a tight spot.

Maria’s top house hunting tips:

  • Start looking in advance
  • Be persistent
  • Know the local housing rules
  • Watch out for scammers

Rodrigo, 30, from Mexico

“I share an apartment in Paddepoel with my partner and dog,” says Rodrigo who has 7 years of house hunting experience in Groningen.

“I moved there one year ago. I think it didn’t take long. Maybe one month?” he replies when asked how long it took him to secure the place he lives in now.

“Use Facebook – it’s one of the best ways to find student rooms. But also know about the other alternatives and the Dutch websites,” advises Rodrigo who found his current place through one such site. “For some you have to pay a small fee, but I think it’s worth it.”

When inquiring about a vacant room, Rodrigo normally messages people in English and tries to be honest.

“They already know that it's hard to find a place. Normally I tell them what I'm doing here, that I'm an international, that I'm searching for a place, that I'm chill and calm. That's what landlords mainly want,” says Rodrigo.

He’s also a strong believer in leveraging your network.

“Maybe you have a friend who has a friend that lives in Groningen. That’s a good way to start. Also use Instagram and announce that you’re looking for a place,” Rodrigo says.

He also echoes the standard advice of starting your search for a new place early in advance of your anticipated arrival.

“I would recommend searching one or two months in advance. If you wait until the last second it's going to be quite hectic and you will also be busy with studying,” he explains.

Rodrigo’s top house hunting tips:

  • Use your network
  • Start searching a couple of months in advance
  • Present yourself in the best possible way

Linda, 22, from the Czech Republic

“I live in a shared apartment with internationals. I have 2 roommates. It’s a typical Dutch house with a little garden,” says Linda who lives in the Korrewegwijk district.

“Last year I was a first year international student and I lived in the SSH housing. It was pretty tough because I had to be on time with signing up for SSH. I lived there for a year and at around April I started looking for a new place,” says Linda.

During her room hunting period, she spent every day sending lots of messages and was introducing herself in creative ways to help her stand out among the crowd.

“I also sent introductory videos about myself. That could work as well if you’re going all in,” she explained and added that from her efforts she secured 3 viewings.

She knows a bit of Dutch and thinks that this is also an advantage.

According to Linda, in the Czech Republic student dorms are handled by the universities that guarantee beds for students. In the Netherlands it was more challenging and she came across a number of adverts from Dutch people that were specifically looking for other Dutch roommates. This is a hurdle a number of other international students face.

She found that going for SSH housing in her first year was a good tactic. It was a safe and secure option that allowed her to meet new people easily. It also offered her an advantage when it came to viewings in the future as she was physically present in town for them.

“Good luck to all the people who are looking!” says Linda.

Linda’s top house hunting tips:

  • Don’t leave it to the last minute
  • Show interest and sell yourself when introducing yourself
  • Use the connections within your social circle

You’ve read this article so you’re likely to have started your research about finding a room in Groningen. Great, you’re on the right track!

As Maria, Rodrigo, and Linda explained, your search for a place to stay in Groningen can get tough especially if you don’t know what to expect. But don’t give up before you’ve made your best possible effort and before you carefully considered every option.

Start your room hunt as early as possible, definitely no later than April or May. The universities do not provide accommodation for students so it’s going to be up to you to ensure you have a place to stay. Be wise, take charge of your responsibilities, and start preparing. Your next email or phone call could be the one that leads you to your new room and it all gets easier from there!

Do you have any questions on housing in Groningen? Contact At home in Groningen via WhatsApp on +31 6 41899802, or send them an email via athomeingroningen.com/contact/.

If you want to read more about this topic, check out what the universities such as the RUG and Hanze are advising.