Help me pick housing!

Okay, peeps. I need your help. I can’t make up my mind and the time is running out.

I’m trying to find housing in Groningen that will work for me. So far I’ve looked at a few options, had one massive fail (why don’t people post honest photos), and it’s finally come down to these three locations. I’ve been twisting them in my brain for DAYS and it’s down to the wire. One landlord is pushing me to make a decision. Thought I’d get some new perspective and ask you to throw your opinions in the mix.

Let’s do this!

My monthly budget is around 1,020 CAD (685 euro). This needs to pay for food, furnishings, and I’m hoping to have a chunk left over each month for extras and exploration. Here’s what I have, from cheapest to most expensive, all within my budget.

Housing Option #1 – 400 CAD per month

It’s not central, but it’s already furnished and comes with a crappy bicycle. It’s 3km from the city center – 40 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride. The room is EXTREMELY small and there is no shared living space, but there is a kitchen and washing machine and all utilities are included in the price. The closest grocery store is a 15 minute walk away.

Pros: Saving lots and lots of money for travel and fun stuff, don’t have to worry about finding a bed on arrival, comes with a bike, is very quiet and seems clean, super cute and safe neighborhood, near the science campus. Could take the bus.

Cons: Potentially claustrophobic, I have no idea whether riding a bike is something I can do physically (would it get easier with practice?), c0mparatively long distance from center and arts campus could prove detrimental to my stay in long run, no housemates to make friends with.

The landlord is pushing for an answer because he has other interested parties. I’m tempted to put down a payment because it’s a good, reliable, cheap option and I could possibly change my accommodations if I get there and hate the location.

Housing Option #2 – 483 CAD per month

Very central, only a ten minute walk to the arts campus. Shared house with three housemates. Doesn’t look extraordinarily clean, but doesn’t look gross either. Typical student housing standard. The house is right across from a gorgeous park, but is on a busy downtown street. The room is an average size, unfurnished, hideous potentially gross brown carpet. Price is all-inclusive. Haven’t done a virtual walk-through yet.

Pros: Super close to downtown, could walk to everything (actually a huge pro). Right around the corner from a cheap grocery store. Right next to a park. Housemates to interact with. Bigger room. Still saving enough money to potentially go do some things.

Cons: Unfurnished – would have to buy everything I need myself, which could add up quickly. Looks to be in a loud part of town. Potential to show up and have it be gross (but that’s true anywhere, I guess, I just hate the look of that brown carpet, ew). Neighborhood not necessarily the safest, but not scary. Could probably use the $80 for other things.

No real opinion either way on this one. I just don’t like that carpet. But if it’s just brown and not actually disgusting in person, I won’t mind.

Housing Option #3 – 520 CAD per month

Just as central as Option #2, but in a quiet neighborhood. Shared with three housemates, tiny kitchen, toilet, bathroom – they don’t look super fancy or nice, but they don’t look nasty either. It looks like four people living in a small space, but I’m used to that. The benefit to this place is its close location and the fact that the room looks really light and decently large and doable. It is not furnished. Price is all-inclusive.

Pros: Location, location, location. Pretty bedroom. Within walking distance of everything important. Housemates to befriend. Everything is in working order.

Cons: Could be grosser than the pictures make it look. Higher cost means less money for extras, trips, and nicer food. Still need to buy my own furnishings, which adds up as well.


So that’s it. I have no idea which to pick. I like being close because I’m more likely to go out and do things, also I worry about whether I can physically do a bike. However, my bigger priority is saving the money with which to go see things, travel on the weekends, and do more with my time than pay for rent and eat noodles. What would you do? Looking forward to your ideas!


13 Replies to “Help me pick housing!”

  1. Just some thoughts because I don’t have the same life experiences as you do…so no real “advice”.

    1. The bike is obviously a concern and rightfully so. I think it was rather recently that you were diagnosed and, while you’ve probably been having symptoms for awhile, I’m not sure that completely physically exhausting yourself is going to pave the way for going for nicer food or fun adventures which seem to be a huge part of your personality (the adventures that is). The added pressure from the landlord would, for me, be a red flag. Having rented before, that usually means they are tight for money…not that they have a lot of prospects. But again, I don’t have the same life experiences and I could be way off due to cultural differences.

    2. 80 doesn’t sound like a TON to me, but keep in mind I only have US funds as a frame of reference here. At the end of the day, how much time are you REALLY going to spend looking at carpet anyway? Besides, there are tons of options there including throw rugs or just a huge wall tapestry that you throw on the floor. I’ve seen your art, and you can make ANY space pretty. As for furniture, do they have things like second hand shops, flea markets, and people selling on places online? You could pick up the furniture for a song if you’re willing to wait to find the right deal. The busy downtown street might be a bonus if you’re planning to still play your fiddle for extra funds when you have time, as could the park.

    3. Going over that 400 mark would make me a bit nervous. You never want to be “house poor” because you’ll end up getting quite frustrated with it and then talk about claustrophobia. It won’t matter how big the room is. Pretty is a frame of mind Hannah and, like I mentioned before, you have an eye for color and art. I’m sure you can make ANY place pretty.

    The choice is yours. Given the very little I actually know, I’d go with option 2. Good luck in your choice!

  2. I agree with the above reasoning. You can clean and beautify the space, having in-house potential friends sounds like a good plan at least to feel connected from the start/ask advice, etc. and being furnished and centrally located you’ll save $ on furniture and transport. If it is gross you can always move once there to a place you can tour in person…all the best to you and safe travels!

    1. Sorry – I was speed reading and misunderstood re: furniture. But really the only immediate necessity is a bed??

      1. Yep, the bed is the only thing I really need on arrival.

  3. The third one sounds the best to me. Neighborhood & location are really important. You don’t want to be far from the school–or have a huge commute. Also, shopping convenience is important too. You don’t want to be stuck for a year in a place that drags down the experience of living in the Netherlands. Furniture we can scrounge. I have literally rescued three of my dining chairs from the street. Regarding $ for travel, if you or your fellow wanderer can drive a stick, you can always borrow my car for some road trips. Can’t wait to have you in Europe!!!!

  4. As a home body I would definitely choose number 1 or 3. However with your recent diagnosis I would go for 3.
    Feeling comfortable at home is so important to feeling positive!

  5. Steph Horner says: Reply

    In my experience (renting lots as a student) location is everything. Being a bit out of town seems ok to begin with but can be a real pain after a while, you can’t just pop in and can also feel quite isolated. Especially with your EDS I would stay close.

    I would also be tempted by the big, quiet room. That way you can work at home too and not worry about having to go out to the library all the time when you just want to chill at home with a cup of tea and get on.

    You’re used to camping so if the worst comes to the worst a mattress on the floor will work for a couple of weeks whilst you figure out cheap furniture.

    It is more money but having somewhere you can come home to where you can do everything you need to is important. Happy Hunting. Steph

  6. First time commenting, hope you don’t mind opinion from a complete stranger :). I would unrule option 1 for sure, being out of town in the end is not good. Also: mandatory daily commute to your study place is the worst, I tell you… and in the end, public transport costs add up really quickly. Though I don’ t know how the Netherlands works in that sense for students.
    Between 2 and 3… As they say above, gross carpet can be covered, and cleant if it’s filthy.
    If you’re willing to wait a bit, most of furniture can be really cheap or free… At my place we rescued a big bunch of perfectly fine stuff from the street…!
    And last: if you need anything I could provide, just send me an email, I’m not super near (Bremen is two hours away), but I’ll do as best as I can! And of course, Bremen is a tiny adorable city, if you want to visit, I can offer a huge sofa.

    1. Thanks for the help! I have a place now that isn’t any of the above options (ha) but is really great. Will post photos when I arrive. It’s a little attic room right downtown within my budget, with basic furnishings available. I’m excited! And hey, maybe we’ll meet up sometime. :)

  7. Daniel Draper says: Reply

    3! You will find that the hours saved on travelling and not needing to find a quiet place to work will balance out with the extra bucks you have to pay. More time to work, rest and play.

  8. Thanks, all! I did end up ditching option one for something a little more expensive, but right downtown. The bus does cost and when I added up the average cost per month, I realized that I’d be saving money by living closer to the center. Thanks for all the help!

  9. Dear Hannah, did you pick #3 or #2? Welcome to The Netherlands (almost)! Happy to meet up when you are planning to visit Amsterdam, where I live. I may have some cool spots in Groningen to go to (coffee place), will send you an email if you like! Take care and have fun in NL! Best wishes, Ichu from Amsterdam

    P.S. Bumped into your blog via Millennial Revolution and via MMM, it is a good read. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks! Would be happy to meet up some time. I ended up not going for either; a different opportunity fell into my lap. The place I chose is RIGHT downtown and is a cute little attic room. I´ll be sure to take photos when I´m there and have it set up the way I want it. :)

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