Leiden is a beautiful place to live. Below are some examples of places to start looking for accommodation.
Note: It is preferable to look for a house 1-2 months before your arrival, but don't sign a contract before you see your potential abode! If need be, the Sterrewacht will pay for your hotel stay for a week after your arrival date to look for housing.
Given the number of people 'orbiting the Observatory', it may be a good idea to ask whether anybody currently working at the Observatory is planning on leaving his/her own apartment.
PhD Student Housing This is a great, affordable housing option. However, the waiting list can be long, so if you're interested, apply as soon as you start your PhD. Note: As of August 2015 PhD Student Housing is expanding to include up to 168 new apartments. Follow the link above or check this document for more info: New PhD Student Housing
Pararius.nl allows you to search many estate agents for rental and purchase, and you can request viewings directly from the site. While the scatter-bomb approach is good for initial viewings, you may find that settling with just one agent and getting them to do all the hard work might end up being easier for you in the long run.
kamernet.nl For a small registration fee you can browse many housing options for both your own place or people who are looking for a roommate.
International Student Housing Extremely expensive housing for international students that is offered by the University. It's a great way to meet people when you're first in Leiden but is often not ideal for long term living.
Non-Profit Housing Agencies More information provided by Leiden University with many helpful agency links.
If you are having problems with your rental, you can go to the Huurcommissie website (Dutch only, try Google translate). They can act as mediators or give you advice.
Rent is about 800 E/month for a 1 bedroom 60m^2 apartment. Gas/Electricity/Water another 150 E/month. Estimates based on 2012 prices.
Note that estate agent fees in the Netherlands are typically 1-2 months rent of the apartment you decide on. This is on top of any deposit and the first month rent you pay to the landlord.
Don't fancy living on your own? We're working on it! Also for postdocs, perhaps someone is vacating as you arrive and you want their apartment (avoid agency fees!).
Don't give up. Check the websites daily and go to every housing interview prepared to accept the house.
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