Living in Leiden: An Expat City Guide

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Accommodation in Leiden

A definitive guide to find accommodation, as told by locals

Last updated: February 2024

How to rent a place in Leiden

Finding a place in Leiden is slightly easier than finding a room in other Dutch cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht. But don’t lay back just yet. Every year the number of incoming students increases, so you have some competition ahead of you. Most of the time, students are able to find a room in Leiden. Some tips to get you started on finding accommodation: Start looking for a room as soon as possible. Most students start looking for a room late in the season, which can lead to disappointing results. Most landlords already list their apartments and rooms early in the season. The earlier, the better. You will have more options and also you would still be able to find an afforable place to live. When you are settled, it’s definitely worth exploring the city of Leiden. Leiden has a rich history and beautiful places to visit like Hortus Botanicus, De Lakenhal museum, and an observatory where you can learn more about astronomy.

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Hi all! My name is Lindsay. I’m an international Business and Management student. I am born in The Netherlands and lived in places like Mumbai, the beautiful Caribbean island of Curacao and I have moved around in The Netherlands as well. Like you, I know the struggles of finding your way in a completely different country. I am here to guide you through some important things to think about when moving to Leiden. Where best to find a place to live and of course where to party. One warning sign… once you step into the city of Leiden, you might never want to leave again.

Living in Leiden and its neighbourhoods



Where to buy your groceries

From personal experience, it’s always difficult to find the right supermarket that fits your wallet. Leiden has many supermarkets but where to find everything under one roof and at the same time offers good value for your money? "Lidl": one of the cheapest supermarkets in The Netherlands and Leiden also has two. Don’t get fooled by the B-brands you will find here, they are of top-notch quality. According to experts, Lidl even has the world’s best whiskey! "Dirk": You will recognise the distinctive red-coloured supermarket from a far distance. Here you can shop for A-brands as well as cheaper brands. Though more expensive than Lidl it is reasonably priced. You will find four of them in Leiden. "Albert Heijn": The most famous supermarket and well known by most of the Dutchies as ‘The Appie’. Here you will find all the A-brands as well as their home-brand AH Basic. Note that this is a more expensive supermarket compared to the other two mentioned. When you have a tight wallet try the other 2 supermarkets instead. You will find 7 branches of Albert Heijn in Leiden.

Second-hand marketplaces and getting around

Second-hand marketplaces and getting around

Websites and apps that make your life easier

These convenient websites and (free) apps used by locals will make your life somewhat easier. Although biking is the most common form of transport in Leiden, make sure to download the public transportation app, "9292". It provides you all information from every public transportation company. Just enter your location and destination the app will present you the best route. check out this online marketplace. It is very popular among the locals with new listings every day. Especially useful when you need a second-hand bike or some extra furniture.

Going out in Leiden

Where to party after a hard day of studying

Imagine a typical friday afternoon, you just finished your last class you can’t read anything more and your brain is completely fried. Good news… it’s Friday! Let the party begin, hop on your bike and drop off your stuff at home. Meet your (new) friends at Annie’s for your first beer and a quick bite. Time to move to the next stop; Roebels, here you drink the famous ‘Zwevertje while’ the night is still young and you’re on a mission. Time to move again. You’re ready to show the locals your dance moves and try to understand the lyrics of those amazing Dutch well-thought of songs at Next, Mas Y Mas, Club Hifi or Gebr. de Nobel. Finished dancing? The night is not over yet. Pop by Akmir to enjoy some high-cuisine kebab, turkish pizza or kapsalon. That’s a wrap, you survived your very first Dutch party many more to come!

Fun Leiden facts

With love from Leiden

Before moving to Leiden, read these funny facts and impress your friends. The famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden Leiden has the oldest theater in The Netherlands its dating back to 1705. The city hosts over 20,000 students. You will never be alone. It’s known as ‘the key city’ you will find many keys around. Leiden houses one of Netherland’s most highly educated populations and is a true student city. During "Leids ontzet" (every year on 3 October), the locals celebrate the end of the Spanish Siege of Leiden that took place in 1574. Do not miss this one!


Historic and charming

In contrast to other Dutch cities where students usually live across the entire city and outside districts. Here most students are residing in the city center. Leiden is considered a small city compared to Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Though being relatively small Leiden consists of a lively, young and energetic community. Discover the best bars, restaurants and nice shopping boutiques here. Most of your activities, University locations and the University of Applied Sciences are located in the city center. Leiden is a truly unique city. What makes it even more unique are the 35 groups of almshouses, located in the middle of the vibrant heart of Leiden. It looks as if time stood still when checking out these truly idyllic places. You are free to enter them, yet be aware that people still live in these houses.


Students, students everywhere

Expect to find many students living here. It is more likely you can borrow a six-pack of beer from your neighbour than a pack of milk. Getting a place here you will be right in the heart of the city. Your University will be right within reach as are all other facilities. One definite plus is that Haarlemmerstraat forbids cars. You will find most student accommodation in this part of the town.


Most popular street in Leiden

A well-known street among the locals is Breestraat. There’s something for everyone. Looking for a pub, bar, restaurant or a high-end clothing boutique? You will find it there. This street is known for its major diversity in stores and is located at walking distance from Haarlemmerstraat. Make sure to remember that every Monday most shops are closed until 13.00 and every Thursday shops are open till 21.00. Finding a room here can be somewhat difficult as it is such a popular location. Luckily there are quite a few surrounding streets that also offer accommodation.


A perfect and cheap alternative

As already mentioned, most students reside in the city center. If you’re looking for an alternative make sure to take a look at Stevenshof district. It’s just a 10-minute bike to the city center. It will not have the same vibrant and energetic vibe as the city center but it’s a really nice option and slightly cheaper than other options you might have for accommodation.