Do you remember those golden days, when buying a house didn’t require you to sell an arm, two kidneys, your soul and your first-born child? Yeah, us neither. Due to steady immigration, limited space for new builds, banks’ speculative behaviours and government inaction over the past few decades, houses in the Netherlands are now more expensive than they have ever been… in some places, more than in others.

This just in: according to the Dutch National Statistics office, or Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS), the average price for a home in this lovely but cramped country has reached its highest level ever. The all-time record high equates to an average buying price for properties in the Netherlands of €308,000 in 2019, while it was €287,000 in 2018 and €263,000 in 2017. That is roughly an 8% increase per year! [Source]

Meanwhile, the salaries are barely levelling up, with the average wage in the Dutch private sector only rising about 2% per year between 2015 and 2019. According to the Centraal Planbureau (CPB), workers in the Netherlands will earn a median gross income of €36,500 in 2020, a revenue that allows you to get a €150,000 mortgage, maximum. For that money, in Haarlem, you won’t get much more than a parking space. [Source]

I have talked with a few people who are getting on the property ladder for the first time, locals and expats alike, and some of them told me that they had to bid almost 25% higher than the asking price to make sure their offer would be taken seriously and they wouldn’t miss out on their dream home.

How crazy is that?! With such fierce competition, it looks as though we are truly screwed…

Multi-million-euro mansion, anyone?

The highest average price for a new home (€832,000) in 2019 was paid in the cute village of Bloemendaal, a great place that is unfortunately out of reach for most of us common folks. While Amsterdam and Utrecht have the highest number of houses worth one million euros or more, it is rich little suburbs like Bloemendaal in the Haarlem area or Wassenaar north of The Hague that have the most expensive houses on average.

But what is so special about these locations? Well, for starters, if you have ever set foot in Bloemendaal, you know the vast majority of the properties there are free-standing houses with their own huge gardens and driveways – and that, my friends, is of the utmost rarity in this land. Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying a couple of million bucks not to have to hear my neighbours loudly spanking each other and creepily giggling come nightfall, ever again.

Besides, Bloemendaal has everything one could need: it is close to the city, the beach, the dunes and forest, has nice schools, shops and restaurants, and is just really green, and clean and pretty and enjoyable and safe and perfect. Oh! And it is a tiny bit higher than sea level, also a rarity in the Netherlands, which therefore makes it less likely to have ground-sinking problems like they do in Zaandam, or to be flooded when shit hits the fan, in a few years from now. Damn; now, I want to live in Bloemendaal forever. Although, a one-bedroom apartment in literally the ugliest building of the village sadly already costs €400,000…

All is not lost

Investing in property is probably the best thing you can do with your money. It is, in any case, definitely better than hiding stacks of cash under your mattress, paying somebody else’s mortgage through rent, or letting your hard-earned euros sit in the bank and lose value through inflation.

So, you want to buy a house, but can’t afford Bloemendaal? Do not despair! If you are prepared to say goodbye to everything you have ever known, like, modernity, convenience and happiness, it can be done. There are shadowy and unloved places, far, far, far away, where house prices are accessible. Go check out Delfzijl on the Groningen coast, up there in the wild empty north, or Terneuzen in Zeeland, near the Belgium border… (urgh, Belgium! I have chills just thinking about it. So sorry to bring this up guys!). On the cheapest street of Terneuzen, a house costs on average 30 times less than on the most expensive street of Amsterdam – 30 times less!

The real question here is: are such ‘low’ prices worth marginalising yourself from the civilized world? May as well just move to a sunnier country. Food for thought.

Happy house hunting, and until next time!

Lucile