This post is also available in Greek
You don’t see a future in Greece (or your country) and want to move abroad? Your friends told you that in the Netherlands life is super? You came to Amsterdam for vacation and you liked it? You want to live in a liberal country with good infrastructure? All these thoughts are great, but have you been informed about the bureaucracy, the cost of living, the housing and the difference in culture, before you decide to take this big step, or even start thinking it?
This is no joke, the Netherlands is a country that you need to be very well organised in order to get into the system and not fall into the "immigrant" trap which is to live in "black" houses and work without contract and insurance and unacceptable wages.
The beginning, BSN and RΝΙ
f you don’t come to the Netherlands with a relocation package, in which case, the company that brings you provides you with temporary residence solution for the first days or some rental agent to help you, you will go through difficult times. The process is complicated and requires strong nerves, a lot of searching, perseverance and patience.
In order to find a house, it is required for you to have a work contract. In order to get one and have permit to work, you have to be registered at the Municipality (Gemeente) and possess a BSN (burgerservicenummer), that is, your Citizen number.
To get your BSN, you must have a legal residence contract in your name (room or house), or someone (who owns a house) to register you as a guest.
And while you may be wondering how this can be possible, think that hundreds like you are moving each month to the Netherlands and ending this process successfully as ninjas.
If you don't have a friend who can (really) host you to his house until you find a job or a room, then the choices you have are:
- Find a room (or bed) in a cheap hotel or hostel
- Find a "black" room to stay (room illegally rented to which you can not be registered).
- In the meantime, you are booking an appointment at the Gemeente to get a temporary BSN (called RNI), which allows you to open an account with your address in Greece.
Once you got it, you go straight to a bank (ING with a passport, ABN with ID) and open an account, because you need to be able to get paid if you find a job.
Next step, when you have a job contract (or during your search) look for a legitimate room where you can be registered and get your BSN.
As soon as you find it, you again visit the Gemeente and change your RNI to BSN.
You can see here the Municipality - Gemeente you can book an appointment for RNI.
Finding a house or a room
In big cities, finding a house is an adventure. Apart from the fact that demand in relation to offer is much bigger, you MUST BE CAREFUL not to give money for houses that do not exist, since in the Netherlands such frauds are phenomenons. Too many have lost money 1) by paying with Western Union, 2) by giving cash instead of sending money with a bank transfer, 3) renting houses without contracts.
“Black” houses and scams
The "black" houses are the ones you are not able to register and get a BSN. Most of the time these houses are public houses illegally rented by owners, in double or triple prices, to disappointed expats or Dutch people who do not need registration because they are registered in their parents' houses or elsewhere.
Another scenario is that the owner have decides not to give you a contract to avoid paying tax or because he does not want to give rights to the tenants or he has others registered (for a fee) without them staying and has no room for you. Whatever it is, you are exposed and he can kick you out at any moment.
Apart from the "black" houses, there are the non-existent houses, one of the most classic Amsterdam scam. You will understand them immediately by simply reading the ad that offers magical homes in the center of Amsterdam, opposite Centraal station, in Spui, Dam with 500 - 750,-, prices that do not meet with reality.
Having in mind that a normal price for a room in Amsterdam starts from 650,- until 900,- euro in the center and 450,- until 600,- euro around it, you can laugh with an ad: House opposite Centraal Station, 85sq.m, 2 rooms, 750 inclusive. You might think for a second that it is real and you are the lucky one that found it, but ask Takis, who 3 months ago he also thought the same and he lost 1 rent and one deposit (1200 + 1200).
Never send money through Wester Union to someone in England or elsewhere that promises you that he will send the keys by mail. Whenever you give money be sure you have the owner's name and BSN (ask for a photo or photocopy of his passport), the keys or the contract of the house.
If you rent a room, ask from the owner to introduce you to one of the other roommates so you can speak on skype or arange to meet.
And always google the name and email of the owner of the house or room to see if he is a real person. In the Netherlands everyone has Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Whether he is the one who says he is you will find him online or find a post about fraud. If you have a photo of a passport or identity, google those too and if it is a scam you will probably find it.
There are a lot of groups for finding a house on Facebook. Some of them are: Rooms in Amsterdam, Amsterdam | Apartment, Room, House | Appartement, Kamer, Huis, Kamers en Appartementen Amsterdam / Rooms and Apartments Amsterdam, Amsterdam Apartment Rentals, Rooms for rent in Amsterdam and many more for almost every town in the Netherlands.
If you're in a hurry to find a house then what you need to do is find one from a rental agent. Before you go, google and find all the real estate agencies that have homes in the areas that interest you, write a summary email with all your information, areas and features of the home you are looking for, your budget and your salary. Then send it to all the rental agents - makelaars you can find online. You may be lucky and someone has something similar with what you are looking for.
You may think that if you try enough you will find in the end the house you want, but in Amsterdam (and in other major cities) the house finds you. In the beginning get any house or room you’ll find and then, when you get into the system and you have more knowledge and experience, you can search again for the areas you wanted.
Be careful and never get disappointed. Finding a house or a room requires a lot of time, maybe months, so you have to look everyday, ask friends and colleagues and make it your first priority.
The photos were taken from my good friend & photo-ninja Thrasos Panou.
Born in Volos in 1980. As a kid was filled many concerns about life. Sports lover, naturalist and big fan of travelling. He has majored in multimedia development and the past few years he's grown passionate for photography and photo editing. His purpose is to offer the world the best images one can shoot and edit. Believes that everybody has an artist inside. It only takes for one to believe in himself. You can find about more at Thrasos website: Thrasivoulos Panou Photography