Every year, thousands of expats move to Utrecht to study or work. Utrecht is a beautiful city, and you will soon feel at home in Utrecht if you find the right neighborhood. I lived in four different neighborhoods of Utrecht and know Utrecht inside out. So let me guide you in finding the best neighborhood for you in Utrecht.
The 11 best neighborhoods in Utrecht for expats are:
|3||Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittevrouwen||neighborhood|
|4||Oog in Al||neighborhood|
Utrecht is the fourth large city in The Netherlands with ± 360.000 inhabitants, and 65.000 of its inhabitants were not born in The Netherlands. In addition, thousands of new international students move to Utrecht annually to attend Utrecht University.
Utrecht is known for its historic city center and the many wharf cellars along its canals with a great selection of cafes and restaurants. Thanks to its cultural history and a young, diverse population, Utrecht is a vibrant city with an international atmosphere.
On the other hand, Utrecht is the quintessential small Dutch town and much more authentic than Amsterdam. Utrecht is very much like Amsterdam before Amsterdam became too popular among tourists. Utrecht is, fortunately, the best-kept secret of The Netherlands.
If you are still unsure if you want to move to The Netherlands, you may be interested in reading 11 pros and cons of living in The Netherlands first.
Where To Live In Utrecht?
Where you want to live in Utrecht depends mainly on what you intend to do while living in Utrecht.
If you are going to study or work at Utrecht University, I suggest finding a place in the eastern part of Utrecht. That will allow you to reach Utrecht University, or the University Medical Centre Utrecht, by bike within 15-20 minutes.
If you want to live in Utrecht but work outside of Utrecht, you should look for a place in new neighborhoods like Leidsche Rijn or Vleuten-De Meern. These neighborhoods have excellent access to highways A2 and A12, and you have no problem driving in any direction because the highway infrastructure around Utrecht is fantastic. However, be aware that traffic around Utrecht can be horrendous.
Alternatively, you may want to find a place near the central railway station in Utrecht in neighborhoods like Nieuwe Gracht. Utrecht is located in the center of the Netherlands, and train connections to other parts of The Netherland are outstanding. It is not uncommon for people to live in Utrecht and commute daily to Amsterdam by train because that will only take 35 minutes.
Where Is The International School Utrecht Located?
The International School Utrecht is located in Kanaleneiland in the eastern part of Utrecht. However, the International School Utrecht will temporarily relocate to Papendorp (in the southern part of Utrecht) in July 2023. After that, the International School Utrecht expects to move to a permanent location in Utrecht Science Park (in the western part of Utrecht) in July 20226.
That makes it rather difficult to base a long-term decision on where to live in Utrecht on the location of the international school. However, until July 2026, Leidsche Rijn and Oog in Al will be neighborhoods in Utrecht within biking distance of the present site in Kanaleneiland and the temporary location in Papendorp.
How Good Is Public Transportation In Utrecht?
Public transportation in and around Utrecht is excellent. First and foremost, train connections to and from Utrecht are the best you will find in The Netherlands. Utrecht is located in the middle of the Netherlands, and frequent connections to all directions are available from Utrecht’s central station.
Public transportation in Utrecht itself is above average compared to other Dutch cities. Utrecht may have only one (above ground) metro line, but it is a convenient connection between Utrecht Central Railway station and de Uithof, where Utrecht University is located. Furthermore, bus lines can bring you to any corner of the city, and a bus stop is never far away.
The highway infrastructure around Utrecht is also fantastic, although the traffic can be very heavy. So it depends very much on which direction you need to go during rush hours if commuting by car will be a viable alternative.
Another advantage of Utrecht is that Utrecht is smaller than Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or The Hague. You can cross Utrecht by bike in 30-60 minutes. That is an incredible advantage because parking in and around Utrecht can be a nightmare. You will notice that virtually all locals are moving around on their bikes because that is easier and cheaper.
Is Living In Utrecht Expensive?
The increase in house prices in Utrecht over the last decade is incredible, just like in any other city in The Netherlands. House prices in Utrecht have doubled since 2013, and annual price increases of 15-20% are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
At the end of Q2-2022, the average house price in the Netherlands was € 448.000, with an increase of 10,6% in the last 12 months. The housing mania in The Netherlands is cooling down a little even though houses are sold on average in 33 days. Furthermore, 80% of all houses are sold 5-10% above the asking price. The housing market in The Netherlands is still very much overheated, and more cooling down is required.
Concerning Utrecht, a recent study showed that expensive neighborhoods in Utrecht are not as expensive as in Amsterdam or The Hague. On the other hand, the cheapest neighborhoods in Utrecht were more expensive than in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Eindhoven.
Whichever way one looks at it, none of the better neighborhoods/villages in and around Utrecht can be called cheap. Housing is in short supply in The Netherlands, and you will have to pay for quality housing in a good neighborhood in Utrecht.
At the very least, as an expat, you will have a favorable income tax regime for your first five years in The Netherlands, which will help you bid for an attractive house.
|Dutch City||Average house prices in the cheapest and most expensive neighborhoods|
|Amsterdam||€ 260.000 – € 1.125.000|
|Rotterdam||€ 195.000 – € 470.000|
|The Hague||€ 205.000 – € 865.000|
|Utrecht||€ 335.000 – € 570.000|
|Eindhoven||€ 270.000 – € 445.000|
The above ranges are still wide and do not provide much insight into the diversity of house prices in Utrecht. Therefore, I also prepared the table below to help you with the first assessment of house prices in different neighborhoods of Utrecht.
For more detailed information about house prices in Utrecht, I advise using the Funda website, which has the best overview of available properties in The Netherlands (see below; How To House Hunt In Utrecht?).
|3||Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittevrouwen||++|
|4||Oog in Al||++|
|11||Vleuten – De Meern||++|
How To House Hunt In Utrecht?
The best website in The Netherlands to look for housing is Funda, and I strongly advise you to use this website to orientate yourself to the Dutch housing market. In addition, this Funda website has an English language option, making it easy for English speakers looking for housing in The Netherlands.
- Check out the Funda link below for an overview of all houses for sale in and around Utrecht.
- Check this Funda link if you are looking for a rental property in and around Utrecht.
Map Of 11 Best Neighborhoods Of Utrecht
You can find the 11 best neighborhoods in Utrecht and the best villages around Utrecht on the map below.
I have described these 11 best neighborhoods in more detail below.
What Are The 11 Best Neighborhoods Of Utrecht?
Tuindorp is a charming neighborhood In Utrecht, just north of the city center. The houses are primarily single-family houses, a bit more spacious than houses closer to the center of Utrecht. Virtually all homes have front gardens making Tuindorp a very green neighborhood. Tuindorp is a good compromise between living in Utrecht near the center (Wittevrouwen, Oudwijk, Nieuwegracht) and living in villages outside Utrecht.
Access to the highways is excellent because you can rapidly get out of Utrecht. The drawback of Tuindorp is that the houses were built about 100 years ago and may need extensive renovations. If you are looking for more modern, spacious houses in this part of Utrecht, you should consider Voordorp, built approximately 20 years ago and located more to the east.
De Vogelenbuurt was the first neighborhood in Utrecht built outside the city center in the second half of the 19th century. I lived in the Vogelenbuurt for many years and loved the inner-city feeling of the Vogelenbuurt and the proximity to the city center. The houses are virtually all single-family houses and are smaller than in Tuindorp.
Vogelenbuurt is best suited for expats who don’t need to commute daily by car because highway access is difficult, and parking can be a nightmare. However, if you only need to hop on your bike to work or study in Utrecht, Vogelenbuurt can be your neighborhood.
3. Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittevrouwen
Wittevrouwen + Buitenwittevrouwen is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Utrecht because it is one of the nicest areas to live in. This neighborhood borders the city center, but Wittevrouwen already has plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants, creating a lively atmosphere.
Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittenvrouwen is as inner-city as it gets in Utrecht, the single-family houses in this neighborhood are not large, and parking can be a nightmare. On the other hand, its location is fantastic, bordering the city center, the Griftpark, and the Biltstraat with many gastronomic and shopping opportunities. Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittevrouwen is especially attractive if you study or work at the university because the university is only 15 minutes bike ride away.
Wittevrouwen + Buiten Wittevrouwen can be a great neighborhood to live in Utrecht if your budget allows it.
4. Oog In Al
Oog in Al is a similar type of neighborhood as Tuindorp. The houses in Oog in Al are spacious compared to other areas in Utrecht and are often equipped with a large backyard. Locals regard moving from Vogelenbuurt, Oudwijk, or Wittenvrouwen to Oog in Al or Tuindorp as stepping up the housing ladder.
Oog in Al is larger than these inner-city neighborhoods, has a large park, and is better suited for young expat families. Access to the highways is not easy, but parking is not as bad as in other neighborhoods in Utrecht. Oog in Al is also near the present location of the International School Utrecht, making Oog in Al an attractive neighborhood for expat families with children.
The Nieuwegracht is the nicest part of the medieval center of Utrecht, with many beautifully restored houses and apartments and a monumental atmosphere. If you can afford to live here, you should go for it because this is the most authentic area in the center of Utrecht you will find. The good part of this neighborhood is that almost all houses and apartments are beautifully restored, providing all the modern comfort, yet leaving the authentic feeling intact.
The drawback of the Nieuwegracht area is that parking will be near impossible, and access to the highway will be difficult. However, the Nieuwegracht area is superb if your bike suffices to get to work or study or if you are happy using public transportation. The Central Railway Station is only 15 minutes walking away.
Oudwijk is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Utrecht among locals. I lived there many years myself and enjoyed the lively atmosphere with shops, bars, and restaurants on the Burgemeester Reigerstraat. Unfortunately, the houses in Oudwijk are virtually all attached small single-family homes and not suited for families.
The area above the Burgemeester Reigerstraat is much better, with larger houses virtually all renovated and adjacent to Wilhelminapark. The location of Oudwijk is fantastic, with the center only 10 minutes by bike away and relatively easy access to the highway. However, parking will be a problem, like in virtually every neighborhood in Utrecht.
Wilhelminapark is a chic neighborhood bordering a lovely park of the same name. Wilhelminapark is a neighborhood with a monumental yet residential atmosphere with stately houses. Wilhelminapark is probably the most beautiful neighborhood in Utrecht, although it is also the most expensive.
The location of Wilhelminapark is ideal because it is in the middle between Utrecht center and the University and the University Medical Centre Utrecht (only a 10-minute bike ride in both directions). Moreover, parking is not as bad in Wilhelminapark as in other neighborhoods, and access to the highway is reasonable.
Zeist is an independent municipality that prides itself on having the atmosphere of a village but the amenities of a city. Zeist is undeniably a beautiful village, but it is also the most expensive upscale part of the housing market around Utrecht. However, there are also plenty of more affordable attached single-family homes available in Zeist. Zeist has a train station with frequent connections to Utrecht, but the train station is a bit outside its center. Zeist comes as close to countryside living as you can find around Utrecht because the area around Zeist is lovely.
Houten is a municipality south of Utrecht built in the second part of the 20th century when Utrecht could not expand much more. The infrastructure in Houten is unique because cars can only enter and exit a neighborhood via a circular road around all neighborhoods. However, plenty of bicycle paths and pedestrian sideways connect the neighborhoods and the center of Houten with each other. This design makes Houten a very safe and friendly community, especially for children, and Houten has already won the title of “Best Bicycle Town” in The Netherlands several times. Houten also has a train station with frequent connections to Utrecht.
10. Leidsche Rijn
Leidsche Rijn is one of the newer neighborhoods in Utrecht and was built approximately twenty years ago. Leidsche Rijn is also one of the larger neighborhoods in Utrecht, with more than 80.000 inhabitants. Many expat families live in Leidsche Rijn because of the spacious modern single-family homes, much larger than you will find in older parts of Utrecht, and fantastic access to the A2 and A12 highways. Leidsche Rijn is a green neighborhood with a vast park (Maximapark) in the middle. There are now two brand new NS train stations in Leidsche Rijn, providing easy transportation to Utrecht and, in the other direction, Rotterdam or The Hague. In addition, the International School Utrecht is within biking distance.
11. Vleuten – De Meern
Vleuten – De Meern used to be an independent municipality but became part of Utrecht more than 20 years ago. The atmosphere of the former municipality is still visible in some parts of Vleuten- De Meern. Still, it has also extensive modern large residential areas built in the last twenty years. Vleuten – De Meern is separated from Leidsche Rijn by the Maximapark and, on the other site, borders the countryside. There is an NS train station in this neighborhood and easy access to A2 and A12 highways. You can reach the International School Utrecht in 30 minutes by bike.
What Are Bad Neighborhoods In Utrecht?
Utrecht has specific neighborhoods you don’t want to live in and want to avoid at night. Utrecht is not a very diverse city, but some neighborhoods are still better to avoid.
The four worst neighborhoods in Utrecht are:
Utrecht is investing a lot in these neighborhoods, and many renovations are taking place at this very moment. However, if you want to spend a few good years in Utrecht as an expat, it makes sense to avoid these neighborhoods because it will take decades to bring these neighborhoods to an acceptable level.
Living in Utrecht Versus Living In Other Dutch Cities
Utrecht is not present in the rankings of attractive cities by expats, but the attractiveness of Utrecht among Dutchmen is monitored annually.
Utrecht ranks second as the most attractive Dutch city to live in, behind Amsterdam but above expat cities like The Hague, Rotterdam, and Eindhoven.
Many expats live in Utrecht and commute to other Dutch cities by train because Utrecht is cheaper.
How To Get A Good First Impression Of Utrecht?
Check out this Youtube video, the best drone video about Utrecht I could find.
Best Neighborhoods In Other Dutch Cities
If you want to live in another Dutch city than Utrecht, check out the best neighborhoods in other Dutch cities below.