Finding accommodation in Zwolle
Where you live and how you live are some of the most important things in your life. In fact, most people I've spoken with over the years would rank the importance of their living space in third place only behind their health and the health of loved ones.
When moving to a new country it can be very difficult to find that special place which you can make your home. You maybe don't speak the language and you might not know the proper channels to find accommodation in your new town. Perhaps you are not even in the country where you are moving to yet so you can't even visit properties that you've seen online and are interested in.
I've worked in property for a long time and know the housing market in Zwolle well. I often get asked about how to find accommodation and we get a lot of questions on the Expats Zwolle Facebook Group about this topic too.
So, these are my tips on how you can deal with finding accommodation in Zwolle...
Renting, buying or short stay? Be clear on how long you need accommodation for - you need to know this to figure out where and how you should be looking for a place to live.
Renting If you are going to rent a property, it's important to have some understanding of standard rental contracts in The Netherlands. These are always for a minimum term of one year and after that first year you can cancel your contract monthly taking into account your notice period. Depending on the contract this period is normally one or two months.
Something else to keep in mind is that homes in The Netherlands are rarely furnished. Even if you see furniture in the pictures of the property that's likely furniture belonging to the previous tenant. Most homes are rented out as either 'ongestoffeerd' meaning that the property will only have kitchen and bathroom fittings and fixtures but won't even have flooring, curtains and light fixtures included. Or, 'gestoffeerd' which means there will be flooring and at least rails for curtains but may also include curtains and light fixtures. If you are not sure if something is included always ask, never assume that it is.
So how to find a rental property in Zwolle?
There are several ways to tackle this problem. By far the fastest and easiest is to use a 'verhuurmakelaar'. These are middlemen who rent out properties on behalf of the owner of the property. Though these agencies come at a cost to the renter they can be worth it if you are looking for something quickly. Google 'Verhuurmakelaar Zwolle' to find them and make sure to check the website of all of them for the properties that you like.
Another option is to contact a 'makelaar' - these are normal real estate agents and although their core business is to buy and sell houses, they occasionally also rent out properties for the owners. All real estate agents put their portfolio on the same website - Funda - just select 'huur' on there and you can find all the properties currently for rent through real estate agents in Zwolle.
Buying First of all it's important to note that to get a mortgage in The Netherlands you always need to have a certain percentage of the asking price from your own money. This is to cover the various fees needed when buying a property. Also in almost all cases you can only get a mortgage if you have a permanent job contract. From an expats perspective, make sure to let your mortgage advisor/broker know if you also receive the 30% ruling as this can sometimes lead to better offers for a mortgage and improved interest rates.
There are two ways to find a property to buy, you can either use Funda to look for a place yourself and contact the selling real estate agent listed on the site. Whilst this is the cheaper solution as searching Funda is free, not knowing the market and more importantly not knowing the good and bad places in the city to live can make it very hard to be sure about whether you're making a good decision.
If you want a bit more local knowledge and experience on your side as you search for your new home then it might be helpful to engage a real estate agent (makelaar) and have him or her search for you. You can tell your estate agent what you are looking for and what all of your criteria are for a property. The estate agent will not only support you in searching for properties but will also join you on any visits and advise you through the bidding and buying process. In this digital age it might seem like you can do it all on your own but don't underestimate the value of a good estate agent in this complicated process.
Short stay Are you only staying for a couple of months or weeks? Then short stay might be your best option. Zwolle is full of all sorts of great short stay initiatives with furnished rooms. The best way to find a good short stay place in Zwolle is to Google 'short stay Zwolle' but don't forget there are dozens of great B&Bs as well.
So how about Airbnb? Of course you can also use Airbnb to find a place for short stay but make sure that the person renting you the property on Airbnb is either the owner of the property or has permission from the owner to rent out on Airbnb otherwise you may be viewed as a sub-letter and may be evicted at a moment's notice!
Finally, if you still run into trouble or you have more questions, you can always get in contact with us at Expats Zwolle. We have a very lively Expats Zwolle Facebook group and a WhatsApp chat. I'm sure that with our combined knowledge and experience, our members can help you out with any questions that you might have.