Kamers, Hospiteeravonden and above all: ‘Gezelligheid’

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For those of you who are still room-hunting- to offer some words of consolation: you are not alone. Utrecht is among the most popular student cities in the Netherlands and, with its diverse international study programmes, an even more popular destination for international students.

However, without a place to stay it’s hard to live and enjoy your student life to the fullest. Thus, we all know how hard it is to find a room in a foreign country with different local customs, rules and regulations. But again, you are not alone, because we from ESN are available for help and advice.

Nevertheless, we thought that some tips and links might be handy to make you very soon say to all of your new friends: “Hey, mi casa su casa.”

First of all, we’d like to familiarize you with some essential Dutch housing customs. In our modern times of the Internet, people advertise their available kamers (=rooms) on various platforms, such as specific Facebook groups, or on special housing websites, such as kamernet.nl. Even though most ads are written in Dutch, don’t be shy to send your message (and possible questions) in English. The Netherlands is an international country and most people are not afraid to talk (very good) English with you.

When you’ve found a room that fits your expectations and budget, you can write a personal message, usually with some information about yourself about what makes you the perfect new huisgenoot (=roommate). Don’t be surprised if you do not receive an immediate answer or reaction, because most advertisements receive hundreds of messages every day and your potential new roomies need to make a selection of whom to invite to a hospiteeravond (= evening when student household looks for potential new roommates in the form of a ‘gezellig’ (=friendly, sociable) get-together with all invited potential-roommate candidates, usually accompanied by snacks and biertjes (=beers) ).

Once invited to a hospiteeravond, the only advice we can give is: be yourself! It might seem like a competition (which it kind of is), but being yourself will most likely help the people to choose the perfect huisgenoot aka. YOU. Show some small-talk initiative, bring along some interesting stories about yourself and the other day, you might have a new kamer. And even if it doesn’t work the first time, the more hospiteeravonden, the more hospiteeravond experience you gain to eventually find the perfect place in Utrecht.

To make life a bit easier for you, we have collected the most popular housing platforms:

  • www.kamernet.nl (liable to costs): At kamernet.nl, you can register for free; however, for contacting people, you need to pay a Premium Account fee of €19 for 15 days or €30 for a whole month. Attention: Does the room look too nice to be true for an unbeatable price? Be alert that not all rooms offered are genuine. Never pay for a room in advance that you haven’t seen before and always try to meet the landlord or roommates in person to make sure you have not been tricked.
  • SSH (Short Stay Housing): Furnished rooms can be available via SSH which works together with the major universities in Utrecht, i.a. Utrecht University, UU Faculty DGK-GNK, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, TIAS School for Business and Society, SSC, Aiesec. For more detailed information, check the website and ask at the Student Desk or International Office of your university:

Facebook Groups (free of charge):

Last, but not least, some essential key words to remember:

Kamer = room

huisgenoten = roommates

hospiteeravond= evening when student household looks for potential new roommates in form of a ‘gezellig’ (friendly, sociable) get-together with all invited potential-roommate candidates, usually accompanied by snacks and biertjes (beers)

Jij bent uitgenodigd = you are invited!

Good luck!

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By Alissa Geiger

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