Where to live in Utrecht (2024)

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Utrecht is one of the most attractive places to live in the Netherlands, offering big-city amenities, a medieval center, and proximity to the Dutch countryside.

Where to live in Utrecht (8)

Where to live in Utrecht (9)

By Expatica

Updated 14-5-2024

Located in the heart of the Netherlands, Utrecht is well connected to both big city amenities and lush Dutch countryside. The city and its environs remain one of the most beautiful places to live in the country. Utrecht attracts expats and foreign companies with high living standards and an educated workforce in a laid-back university town.

  • Utrecht: the gem of the Randstad
  • Where to live in Utrecht
    • IJsselstein
    • Leidsche Rijn
    • Nieuwegein
    • De Vechtstreek
  • Utrecht facts and links
  • Finding a home in Utrecht


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Utrecht: the gem of the Randstad

Arriving in Utrecht by train, you emerge into the country’s largest shopping mall, but don’t let that put you off. Utrecht’s medieval center is a delightful place to live in, with its unusual sunken canals and cellar bars. “A pleasant mix of urban excitement and small-town charm,” according to local convention center Jaarbeurs. The vibe gets particularly lively at night due to the huge (70,500) student population.

Utrecht is also undergoing the fastest development rate in its history, focused on transforming into a regional capital of European importance, complete with a bursting cultural agenda. It attracts international companies and expats alike, having the Netherlands’ most highly educated workforce and second-best standard of living. The municipality offers expats information in English.

However, house-hunting here can be even harder than in Amsterdam. To deal with the shortage, the city is in the midst of expansion projects such as in Leidsche Rijn, and around the railway station to the west. The Station Area will form a natural extension of the central district, bringing together the areas to the east and west of the railway tracks. Its cultural charm will not be lost, however, as no changes will be made to the historic city center.

Transport links are excellent, particularly by train, as Utrecht is HQ for NS (Dutch National Railways) and Utrecht Centraal is the biggest and busiest train station in the Netherlands. It is an easy commute to Amsterdam (25 minutes by train) and the service is regular (five trains an hour).

Where to live in Utrecht (11)

The center is prime territory, particularly the museum quarter and Wilhelminapark with its well-maintained 1930s houses.

Parents have plenty of options for schools, including an international school. Furthermore, childcare centers in Utrecht include Partou.

Where to live in Utrecht


Twenty minutes down the motorway is the popular suburb of IJsselstein, complete with a car-free medieval city center and castle (now a museum). There are fast train connections to Utrecht and Nieuwegein, and good cultural amenities. Nature lovers can enjoy the green heart of the Netherlands with bike trails through scenic countryside and along the river Lek.

New housing opened in 2012, and zoning approved even more.

Leidsche Rijn

Officially part of the city of Utrecht, Leidsche Rijn consists of the two small villages of Vleuten and Meern and includes the entire agricultural area between those villages and Utrecht itself.

The largest new development in the Netherlands, some 30,000 houses and new space for industry and companies are being built in Leidsche Rijn. In effect, this means that a medium-sized town, which will house 100,000 people, is being built out of nothing. Great effort is being made to create an environmentally friendly town with high-quality housing. An underground motorway is the pride of the project.

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Additionally, there will be a new hospital, schools, churches, shopping facilities, a train station and separate bus lanes throughout the area leading straight to the heart of Utrecht. Keep in mind that most of the facilities won’t be built for another few years (around 2025) but you can also do your shopping in the villages of either Vleuten or De Meern.


Lying 7 kilometers south of Utrecht, Nieuwegein is a new town dating from 1971 to cope with Utrecht’s expanding population. There are a variety of housing styles from classic Dutch brick homes to modern high-rises, and if you need to drive to work, easy access to nearby motorways (A2, A12, and A27). To the east is Houten, a fast-developing town, where some third of its population is under 20.

Many houses are amidst parks, lakes, and nature. Most people go to Utrecht for entertainment, making Nieuwegein residential and also ideal for those with young families. New international companies continue to build in the newer industrial park where you can even rent storage space.

De Vechtstreek

This beautiful area is northwest of Utrecht and close to the Loosdrechtse Plassen lakes. Popular with young families and retirees, Breukelen and Maarssen connect with Utrecht through local rail and bus services.

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Older villages include Oud-Zuilen (built around a castle) and Maarssen-Dorp. Maarssenbroek contains newer housing estates with local amenities and services in place.

Utrecht facts and links

This video from Utrecht’s tourism office gives insight into Utrecht.

Finding a home in Utrecht

If the cozy city of Utrecht sounds like your type of place, it’s worth looking online for somewhere to live. Sites such as Funda and Pararius are good options for a permanent place. Meanwhile, some services cater to the international market, offering more flexible contracts and fully furnished apartments. These include:

You may even be considering buying a home in the city. Generally speaking, expats are able to easily buy a Dutch property. However, when getting a mortgage in the Netherlands, many use a mortgage advisor to help them through the process. This is especially helpful if you don’t speak Dutch and are new to the local housing market. Expat-friendly mortgage advisors operating in Utrecht include:

For more information on buying homes in Utrecht and the Netherlands in general, read our expert guide.

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Where to live in Utrecht (2024)


What is the nicest part of Utrecht? ›

  • Rotsoord. Rotsoord is industrial and in full development. ...
  • Wittevrouwen. Wittevrouwen is a sought-after neighbourhood just outside the city centre, where two-income couples with children settle in beautiful 1930s houses.
  • Oudwijk. ...
  • Maliekwartier. ...
  • Oog in Al. ...
  • Lombok. ...
  • Binnenstad, Wijk C & Museumwijk.

How to find a place to live in Utrecht? ›

If the cozy city of Utrecht sounds like your type of place, it's worth looking online for somewhere to live. Sites such as Funda and Pararius are good options for a permanent place. Meanwhile, some services cater to the international market, offering more flexible contracts and fully furnished apartments.

What are the small villages near Utrecht? ›

Neighbouring towns

Woerden, Driebergen, De Bilt, Zeist, Houten, Bilthoven, Stichtse Vecht, Bunnik, Maarssen, IJsselstein.

Where is the red light district in Utrecht? ›

Like elsewhere in the Netherlands, Utrecht has a Red Light District. It's called the Zandpad (Sand path) and it is located along a picturesque canal. The women work out of long row of canal boats.

Is English widely spoken in Utrecht? ›

It will be no problem speaking English, most people will understand you.

Where do American expats live in Netherlands? ›

Amsterdam. With its picturesque canal houses, vibrant atmosphere, and international community, it's easy to understand why so many people choose to move to Amsterdam. Expats from over 180 nationalities live in the capital, making it a truly multicultural city.

How much money do you need to live in Utrecht? ›

A family of four estimated monthly costs are 3,576.4$ (3,325.2€) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 1,035.7$ (963.0€) without rent. Utrecht is 36.5% less expensive than New York (without rent). Rent in Utrecht is, on average, 67.8% lower than in New York.

Which is better for expats Germany or Netherlands? ›

Germany is more advantageous for international students and expats when it comes to taxes. You can earn a tax-free income of up to €9,744. In the Netherlands, students must pay income tax on any money they make - even if it's just a part-time job.

Is Utrecht a walkable city? ›

Utrecht was recently named as one of the world's most walkable cities where 75 percent of people get to work on foot or by bike. The beautiful city has tree-lined canals, a 14th century bell tower and a thriving student population.

Why is Utrecht so expensive? ›

This is due to the high demand and low supply of quality rental properties. Within the Randstad, the area that incorporates the Netherlands' four largest cities, prices can be very high. With Amsterdam and The Hague having the highest rent prices, closely followed by utrecht.

Is Utrecht worth living? ›

Utrecht is a nice city. Except for the high cost and shortage of housing, it has a lot of amenities without being a tourist overrun city. Further to that it has easy access to 'nature' for sporting and recreation, is centrally located in the country allowing you to get to most large cities with short travel time.

Is Utrecht good for tourists? ›

The city boasts beautiful canals and parks, lively restaurants and cafés, fascinating museums and remarkable historical buildings. Its city center alone is absolutely worth a visit, but there is much more to Utrecht than that.

What is special in Utrecht? ›

Top Attractions in Utrecht
  • Canals area. 2,353. Historic Walking Areas. ...
  • Utrecht University Botanic Gardens. 269. Gardens. ...
  • Museum Speelklok. 893. Speciality Museums. ...
  • Rietveld Schroder House. 396. Architectural Buildings. ...
  • DOMunder. 421. History Museums. ...
  • Spoorwegmuseum. 1,410. Speciality Museums. ...
  • Dom Tower. 2,018. ...
  • Station Utrecht Centraal. 917.

Which is better Utrecht or Amsterdam? ›

Amsterdam is very popular for its museums, nightlife, music, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Utrecht attracts visitors for its food, historical sights, and quaint atmosphere. Amsterdam is more touristy than Utrecht and is known for its scenic canals, huge biking culture, and its wild nightlife scene.


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