A funny thing happened since we relocated to Eindhoven back in 2016 to start Dispatches Media: The city and the region have turned into the Silicon Valley of Europe, a very hot destination for highly skilled internationals, with housing costs starting to reflect that popularity.
Which is great, right? Uhm … to a point.
No question, this is one of Europe’s high-tech boomtowns along with Munich and Stockholm, though the cost of living is still well below those cities. But we’re on the same demand trend line.
We went to High Tech Next at High Tech Campus Eindhoven on 9 November and at least one of the local multinational semiconductor giants, chipmaker NXP, had a few promotional materials about its tech. But it had a BUNCH of handouts for dozens of open positions, most of them in engineering and management.
As a result, the number expats here is expected to double to 80,000 by 2020. From 2015, when we first started researching cities in Europe to start Dispatches to now, the real estate market has transformed from the bargain basement of Europe to rents rivaling Den Haag and Rotterdam.
Companies recruiting talent to Eindhoven “should say, ‘Bring your own house,’ ” said Gerrie Royackers, a real estate agent with Best Intermediair Vastgoed Makelaardij. Gerrie is the real estate agent who helped us find a house after months of searching as DIY expats, and she’s remained a friend and confidant. So we know she’s not BSing us. Since 2016, the demand for housing has exploded, causing a shortage. “We are many, many, many (rental units) too short,” Gerrie told me recently.
“If you have a normal-priced apartment listed at around 1,000 euros, you can expect 175 reactions.”
In turn, that’s caused price inflation, with both rental rates for apartments and purchase prices for houses going for 30 percent premiums, she said. It’s not unusual for homeowners to place a for-sale sign in the yard and the house to sell immediately.
This summer, both Bruce Springsteen and Bill Gates were in town, apparently looking at the same mansion, a sprawling property once owned by the founder of Philips. No, really. The housing market has gotten so hot that demand has pushed house hunters south across the border into Belgium, where people including Dutch residents used to go to buy bargain houses, or reasonable rents, Gerrie said.
The good news
This is not just an expat issue, she added: The housing shortage is having an impact on locals. Finding anything in the city centrum in Eindhoven is going to be expensive. But some good news: what expats who’ve been here know is, there are houses and apartments available in the towns around Eindhoven. (Editor’s note: The Dutch consider a city literally stopping at the city limits. So they don’t include populations in the surrounding “metropolitan statistical areas” as in the United States. See more in-depth info about Eindhoven’s neighborhoods below.)
Yet, we meet many, many Eindhoven natives who’ve never heard of our village, Leenderstrijp, even though it’s 12 miles from centrum. There are lots of mini-cities surrounding Eindhoven including Heeze, Helmond, Oirschot and Best that are good places to look.
For example, here’s a 312 m2, five-bedroom house in Heeze for 1,450 euros per month, which is a bargain. But you won’t know until you check it out whether it’s a deal, or just a crappy place. We’re in the same boat with everyone else. Our daughters have left for college, so we now have a 200 m2 farmhouse with four bedrooms – way larger than we need. So we went looking to both consolidate and to find a less expensive unit.
Ha! Nothing. We did look at one apartment in Budel. It was the right size, but it was next to a pre-school with a playground surrounding two sides of the building. It was spacious and priced right, but not in great shape and no space for outdoor living, which we need. And while we love the sound of kids playing, we needed a quieter location for working from home. So far, we’re sticking with our place.
The good news is, there are a huge number of new apartments planned, or under construction in Eindhoven:
• Blok59 is one of several projects in Strijp-S, a former Philips industrial site just north of Centrum, Eindhoven’s showcase urban redevelopment project. The high-rise starts taking applications on 18 December.
• The abandoned Campina dairy facility on Eindhoven’s lone canal – which is a great urban area running just east of the centrum on Kanaaldijk-Zuid-Breitnerstraat – is being redeveloped into a 600-unit complex, a mini-city where people can live, work and play.
This development will come on-line 200 units at a time, according to a city priority survey of all the proposed projects (in Dutch).
• The Onyx apartment tower is under construction on the edge of the centrum in front of the Victoria Park student housing complex. The original plan was for 135 apartments on 22 floors, and a luxury penthouse on the 23rd story. But we’re guessing that will change before it’s completed next year.
• So much of what’s coming on the market is high-end, which is fine if you’re a big-shot executive at ASML or Philips. Parc Fontaine will have units starting at 1,700 euros per month for 82 m2, or about 1,000 square feet. This project started back in 2011, which gives you some idea of how long it takes to build residential real estate projects here.
Things you should know
• If a house or apartment is priced suspiciously below market, it’s likely for sale. So if you take it, you could be made to move before you’re ready, though Dutch law says you have 90 days. And the flip side of this is, it’s not unusual for landlords to offer you money to move out early.
• Expats have their own areas of the city including Meerhoven, next to Eindhoven Airport. That’s good and bad. Housing prices are high there, and there are few offerings. There’s at least one realtor, Rieks van den Berg from AB Makelaars, who twice a year drives busloads of incoming expats around Meerhoven, showing them houses.
When we talked with Meerhoven residents, they told us another expat community is forming in Blixembosch, where there is some new construction. But some of those homes are selling for 500,000 euros-plus.
More on real estate in Eindhoven:
DIY Expat: Everything you need to know about renting in Eindhoven.
Renting in Eindhoven: The best neighborhoods, towns and villages
DIY Expat: What we learned during our year of searching for a place to live in Holland
DIY Expat: How the road less taken led us to a quaint village in the Netherlands
We’re giving a free plug to Best Intermediair Vastgoed Makelaardij, Leende. Gerrie Royackers is the “expat expert” and works closely with expats in the Eindhoven region to place them in their perfect home. Gerrie helped us when few real estate agents would even take our calls. Email: [email protected] Phone: +31 6 22 23 08 96.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.