This week, Fabian Dudek, Founder and CEO of 2014 startup accommodation company nestpick, provides personal insights on shortages of international student accommodation across Europe and how these can be addressed.  



What problems does Europe face in terms of accommodation for international students?

Generation Y are urban nomads, moving continuously throughout their lives. The opportunity to study in a different country or city is now available to more students than ever before. This means that there will be more and more young people searching for a place to call home in other European countries. Based on a report from the international rental consultancy Savills (2014), the global number of international students will rise from three million in 2011 to 3.9 million within the next 10 years, an increase of around 30 per cent.

Germany:

According to a database report by the European Commission, the second most popular country for European Erasmus students is Germany and cities such as Berlin and Munich. The cost of living is relatively low in the capital compared to Munich. Berlin hosts around 160,000 students with many cheap accommodation options available centrally. Although rent has increased the last few years, in comparison to other European cities apartments remain affordable. With approximately 101,500 students living in Munich the accommodation is renting out at much more expensive prices.

The Netherlands:

In our expansion plans nestpick aims at markets with the highest international student inflow first. Having been a student only a few years ago in the Netherlands, I deeply understand the importance of trust when looking for somewhere to live abroad. The options within the Netherlands for international student accommodation are currently limited. nestpick is currently in the three biggeset cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam (where it was founded) and The Hague. The capital has the most expensive rental prices, with a high demand of students looking for their next home. Rotterdam is characterised by the lowest rental prices, and therefore attracts a high number of students, and The Hague is becoming more and more popular.

The solution to the problem

When I was studying in Rotterdam in The Netherlands I experienced the rental crisis first hand. After countless viewings I almost ended up homeless and came to the realisation that finding a home abroad shouldn’t be this hard in the 21st century. In May 2014, I founded nestpick, a rental platform providing an option to book your next home completely online.

Although the platform was founded with the vision to help students, it provides a solution for both tenants and landlords to find a perfect match in a foreign city. The website allows one to rent or let mid- to long-term accommodation securely, quickly and conveniently resulting in a win-win for both parties. Landlords can save time with viewings, lengthy email correspondence and can rent out their homes months in advance. Although we were founded in the Netherlands, we have now launched in five other European countries: the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, and are present in over 20 cities within.

Where we launch depends on where we think we can create change in the rental market. We currently have close to 7,000 nests in cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester with further UK expansion planned for this year.

The more we talk to students, the more negative we realise that their relationship with the rental market is. We are working to restore this trust through the process of verifying our apartments on the platform. Not every student has the luxury to go to visit a rental in person. It is our vision that what they book online is reality upon arrival at the apartment when the key is handed over.

We want to make finding a home fun again. Our company was founded on this. Our team is now well over 100 and most of them have moved from abroad. Almost each and every one of them has a story about how many obstacles they had to overcome in their move to Germany, and how frustrating the entire process was.

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