A definitive guide to find accommodation, as told by locals
Last updated: April 2018
How to rent a place in Rotterdam
Most international students and interns find searching for accommodation in Rotterdam quite difficult. Apartments are often quickly seized, landlords can't even manage to answer all received requests, and prices can be out of the budget. Yet, there’s no need to panic; despite the challenges, there are several ways to find a suitable room. We, from Housing Anywhere, are doing everything to facilitate and make that process painless by offering a vast range of accommodation and a secure service. You’re welcome to check our platform or read our ambassador’s tips on how to find a place to stay in Rotterdam.
Hi everyone! My name is Nadine and on this page I'll give you some insights into Rotterdam.
Raised in Rotterdam and studied International Business and Innovation Management at the Erasmus University. Besides, I lived in the UK, Peru and Colombia. Speaking from experience I know that sometimes you can feel overwhelmed in a new city. Where to go? What to do? What are the places the locals hang out? Or what places or customs actually to avoid? Therefore, as a 'Rotterdammer' I am here to help you find the best neighborhoods to live, the best food to eat, and the places to be. I'm sure that after reading these articles you have nothing to fear and you're ready for the time of your life in Rotterdam!
Living in Rotterdam and its neighbourhoods
A city you never get bored of
Rotterdam is a big and a small city at the same time; it has it’s identity and specific vibe. Even though by population it’s not huge, culture, music, cinemas, theatre, festivals and art are erupting in it’s streets. World famous pieces of architecture are decorating it’s skyline and it attracts major concerts and sporting events. It’s vibrant area 'Witte de Withstraat’ and other numerous restaurants, shops, cafés and nightclubs can satisfy everybody’s needs. The city is very welcoming to internationals, working professionals, interns and has a big expat and student communities. It’s a modern city with unique mentality, fashion style, open minded people and inspiring environment. A city you never get bored of.
When it comes to traveling in Rotterdam, a bike beats all - quick, practical and cheap
Bicycle is not merely a method of transport, it is integrated in the Dutch culture - it is a way of life. Completely flat land and rebuilding many of city’s parts after the World War II resulted in very extensive network of spacious bicycle paths enabling you to reach any part of it quickly. In case the rain spoils the fun of cycling, don’t stress, there are many other options of moving around. With practical OV-chipkaart valid for public transport in the whole country, it is possible to travel by bus, metro or tram. Same goes with trains if you travel to another city. Top up your credit and you’re good to go! For a more detailed description and practical information check transportation page of our city guide.
Quality of life
Quality, wherever you turn
Rotterdam is a young, energetic, multicultural city with a modern look. It boasts an advanced public transport system that can take you to other major cities in The Netherlands in less than an hour and a great network of cycle lanes.
The city's development is focused on adding new housing and family friendly areas in the city centre, but not lacking technologically advanced buildings like Central station or brand new Markthal. There are also upgrades in the cities extracurricular facilities, so joining a club is recommended to make new friends outside of school or work. From tennis to football, dance or something a little more arty, there’s always something to do whatever your interests.
Everyone who lives and works in The Netherlands is required to take out health insurance which is very affordable and Dutch healthcare is also second to none. The city has world leading universities and a great campus which contains a brand new library, Starbucks, tennis courts, student pub and much more.
Meet the Dutchies!
When you touch down in The Netherlands expect to be welcome with open arms, one-fifth of the population is international with more than 150 nationalities and an extensive expat community. That being said the Dutch are quite frank and will say it like it is, which is a good thing as you’ll know exactly where you stand with the locals. Coming with an open mind and a sense of humour will count for a lot when adjusting to life here.
The Dutch also love to cycle and cycling in The Netherlands is the safest in the world. The cities are dense with cycle routes so make sure you get a bike to get around with ease. Fun fact: There are more bikes than people!
This is also a nation that knows how to party on a national scale; give them a National Holiday or an international sporting event and out come the Dutch flags, orange banners and beer. Did we we also mention that The Netherlands is the world’s second biggest exporter of beer?
Buzzing student area
With the main campus of Erasmus University located at the eastern border of the neighbourhood, Kralingen is most popular with the students in the city. The area is gentrified and has both high-income and low-income families sharing enjoying the local restaurants, bars and shopping streets. Students find their way really well into this part of town and with the city centre only being 15 minutes away by bike, tram or metro, prices tend to be high for student accommodation. Studios are a rare find here, but private rooms and apartments are not.
At the heart of the city's architecture
Centrum is known for its architecture and design. The old city was destroyed by German bombings in World War 2. Days after its destruction, plans were already made to rebuild Rotterdam. As a result, the center is modern and vibrant. In this area you find many restaurants, bars, Central Station, Market Hall, the city hall at the Coolsingel and the Cubic Houses. Many expats and working professionals find their apartment or studio in this part of the city, which can be a bit expensive in some areas.
Upcoming and lively part of town
In the north-east of the city you will find Oude Noorden ("Old North"). You will find a dynamic, multi-cultural community living here. It is a late 19th century residential area bordering the city center. Some good shopping streets can be found here (Zwart Janstraat, Zwaanhals, Bergweg), where you will also find small bars and cheap but good restaurants. Noordplein hosts markets, carnavals and food festivals throughout the summer. Housing is rather cheap in this part of town but prices are likely to rise as popularity is growing.
Quiet area next to Erasmus University
This neighbourhood is excellent if you like to live close to Erasmus University (Woudestein campus) and favour a quiet environment. De Esch is considered a lush part of Rotterdam and there are two trams that will bring you to the city center within 15 minutes. You find De Esch south of the Woudestein campus. You can do your daily groceries in this area but you will not find any good bars or restaurants here. Rental prices are just a bit below what you pay in Kralingen, while still being very close to Erasmus University.
Central and good for couples, expats
Just north of Central Station lies Blijdorp. This residential area has well-maintained streets and buildings and is popular with young couples, families and expats. In some parts, Blijdorp feels like an easy town while it is really close to the urban center of the city. With close access to shops, the city center and international schools, Blijdorp is a comfortable place in town. You will also find the city’s zoo in this part, called ‘Diergaarde Blijdorp’. You can find private rooms, shared rooms, studios and apartments here at prices that are just above average.
If you are on a budget
Rotterdam South can be found at the south side of the Maas river. You find the cheapest accommodation in Rotterdam in this working class part of town. It is well connected to the north side of the river by public transportation, since a metro runs every couple of minutes until just past midnight. Streets around the metro stations and Katendrecht are hip and considered good places to live. The Kop van Zuid is a high-rise section connected to the Erasmusbridge and this is very you find the famous building called ‘De Rotterdam’, the biggest building in The Netherlands.
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