UVic to UU: From One Housing Crisis to Another
As you might already know from my previous posts, I am currently on exchange in The Netherlands, in a city called Utrecht. Reachable by train from Amsterdam in about 30 minutes, I have been living here for just over 1 month already and loving it so far. However, just as is the case in Victoria, living in such a beautiful and desirable place comes at some cost: a housing crisis.
One of the first things I was told about the city I’m studying in (Utrecht) and the university I would be attending (Universiteit Utrecht, or “UU” for short) was that it is very, very difficult to find housing due to the housing crisis.
As a UVic student already accustomed to the challenges of Victoria’s own housing crisis, I was no stranger to the trials of a stretched-thin housing market, and so I began my housing hunt as early as possible.
I soon discovered Facebook rental groups riddled with spam and scammers, and struggled to sift through Dutch-language websites with Google Translate by my side. Rental prices here in Utrecht are roughly about the same as in Victoria, with rooms in shared houses going for about 450-700 Euros, or about $630-975 Canadian dollars per month.
Luckily, I was able to find my housing through the Student Short Stay housing company. Unlike in Canada, student housing on-campus is not run by the university itself, but rather through a private company which is not affiliated with the school, despite the housing being on the campus property.
To find a room through Student Short Stay you must first register by making an account on their website and filling out all your details (which semester you need housing for, proof of enrolment at the university, etc.).
Then, about 2 weeks later at 9am local time, booking opens and it is a mad scramble to click on a room and pay the deposit before someone else does.
I remember waiting until midnight PST, frantically refreshing the page, and clicking on the first room I saw that wouldn’t break the bank in order to secure my housing here in Utrecht.
Overall, I think that the housing situation is quite comparable between Victoria and Utrecht. Pricing and availability of rentals is similar, although I think it is more common for upper-year students to still live in on-campus housing rather than find an off-campus shared rental.
Additionally, there is no meal plan system like there is in some of UVic’s residences, so all of the housing is more Cluster-style with shared kitchens. I feel very lucky to have always found a place to live in Utrecht and in Victoria at a price I can afford, and hopefully that will still be the case when I return to Victoria in September (leads, anyone??).