16 Best Places to Live in the Netherlands

Looking for the best places to live in the Netherlands? You’re at the right place!

Living in the Netherlands is a fantastic experience. If you’ve ever been here on vacation, you know how easily this country can win you over.

Many people think about moving to this welcoming and modern nation because of its friendly locals, widespread use of English, and overall high quality of life.

Now, if you’re all set to start a new chapter in the land of canals, cheese, windmills, and bikes, the big question is, “What are the best places to live in the Netherlands?”

Unlike some other countries where your living choice is often tied to your workplace, the Netherlands is compact and has excellent public transportation. This means it’s pretty common to live in one place and work in another.

Plus, the Netherlands has something for everyone – whether you’re a family, a job-seeker, or someone just looking for a new adventure. So, where’s the right fit for you? Let’s break down some Dutch cities that consistently draw people from all around the world.

The most popular Dutch cities to live in the Netherlands

Let’s start with a quick rundown of essential (and simple!) Dutch geography: the Netherlands is mainly divided into two key regions—the Randstad and the rest.

The Randstad is a vibrant metropolitan area situated in the center of the Netherlands, covering the country’s four largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht, along with their surrounding areas.

This part of the Netherlands is particularly popular among internationals for a few good reasons:

  • Outstanding connections to the rest of Europe,
  • Central status as an economic and cultural hub,
  • Abundant job opportunities, thanks to the presence of numerous national and international companies in these cities.

Yet, there are some amazing places to live outside the busy Randstad, like Groningen in the north and Maastricht in the south. These cities are attracting more international companies and families, and with a bustling student scene, they’re lively and exciting places to be.

Despite what you might have heard, not all of the Netherlands is as forward-thinking. There’s a Dutch Bible Belt, a stretch from Zeeland in the southwest, through the Veluwe in the center, to parts of Overijssel in the northeast. Here, people tend to be more conservative.

Best Places to Live in the Netherlands – At a Glance

1. Amsterdam: The heart of Dutch culture and vibrant city living 🏙️

2. Rotterdam: Cutting-edge architecture and the pulse of Europe’s largest port 🏗️

3. The Hague: International organizations amidst the charm of a seaside town 🏖️

4. Utrecht: A small city with a big city vibe, blending historic charm with modern energy 🏰

5. Leiden: The city of knowledge, where academia and history coalesce 📚

6. Eindhoven: A center of technology and innovation, shaping the future 💡

7. Tilburg: An edgy and rapidly evolving urban environment 🔄

8. Haarlem: A harmonious blend of urban amenities and idyllic surroundings 🌳

9. Maastricht: The lively atmosphere of a buzzing student city in the south 🎓

10. Groningen: The gem of the north, known for its unique character and allure 💎

11. Arnhem: Nature’s beauty in a city surrounded by gorgeous landscapes 🌳

12. Nijmegen: The rich history of the Netherlands’ oldest city 🏰

13. Hilversum: The ideal base for commuters in a city with excellent connectivity 🚆

14. Amersfoort: The charm of a well-connected, quaint city 🏡

15. Almere: Residing on reclaimed land, embracing the distinctive setting of this growing community 🌊

16. Delft: The best tech hub for expats, combining vibrancy and innovation 💡

Best Places to Live in the Netherlands – Let’s Explore!

From the lively streets of Amsterdam to the sleek skyline of Rotterdam, each place has its own special charm. We’re about to take you on a tour through Dutch culture, bustling cityscapes, and the delightful surprises that make these cities the top spots to settle down.

Whether you’re captivated by Utrecht’s historic vibes, Leiden’s academic buzz, or Eindhoven’s cutting-edge innovation, there’s a city here just for you. So here are the 16 best places to live in the Netherlands – where tradition and modernity intertwine, and every corner has a tale to tell.

1. Amsterdam

If you’re thinking about moving to the Netherlands, Amsterdam might be your top choice. Imagine opening your front door to charming canals and a historic city center – that’s Amsterdam for you!

Amsterdam is a favorite among expats living and working in the Netherlands. It’s like a melting pot of cultures, with over 180 nationalities making it their home.

This beautiful Dutch city is considered one of the best places to live in Europe, offering the classic Dutch experience with its canals, iconic buildings, and a sea of bicycles.

Getting around is a breeze with 515 km of cycle lanes and an affordable public transport network of trams, buses, metros, and ferries.

Job opportunities are plentiful, and many don’t require you to speak Dutch, making it attractive for expats and digital nomads.

There’s always something to do for everyone – from beautiful parks and cozy coffee shops to world-renowned museums. The nightlife and cultural festivals add to the lively atmosphere.

However, it’s not all perfect. The cost of living is on the expensive side. Amsterdam’s popularity has driven up housing prices, making it the most expensive city in the Netherlands.

Be prepared to pay around €1700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. Over-tourism is also a constant challenge.

For a more detailed look at living in Amsterdam, check out our post on the pros and cons of life in the city!

2. Rotterdam

Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands, just after Amsterdam, and it’s home to Europe’s largest seaport.

This bustling port attracts people from all corners of the world, making Rotterdam one of the most diverse cities in the Netherlands with a vibrant international community.

For those who love modern skyscrapers, Rotterdam is your go-to place! Affectionately known as “Manhattan on the Meuse,” it’s quite different from the charming, old-style architecture found in many other Dutch cities.

After World War II, Rotterdam underwent a cool transformation, rebuilding with cutting-edge architecture like cube houses and sleek designs. Picture this: a city that bounced back with futuristic vibes after being bombed in the war.

The city’s unique urban architecture is highlighted by well-known landmarks like the Cube Houses (Kijk-Kubus), the impressive Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug), and the lively Market Hall (Markthal).

Rotterdam’s food scene is amazing, especially at the Markthal. It’s like a food heaven with flavors from all over the world. Whether you’re into different cuisines or local treats, Rotterdam’s got something for everyone.

Housing choices are plentiful in and around the city, catering to families, couples, and singles. Renting an apartment can range from €800 to €1700, depending on the neighborhood.

Expats often settle in central neighborhoods like Kralingen, Rotterdam Noord, and Kop van Zuid, or quieter areas like Hillegersberg and Prinsenland. Although central rentals can be pricey and limited, Rotterdam’s overall cost of living is lower than Amsterdam’s.

Rotterdam’s central location makes commuting to nearby cities smooth, and the city itself is easy to navigate with trams, trains, a metro, and a bike-friendly atmosphere. So, if you’re after a vibrant, connected, and all-around awesome city to call home, Rotterdam’s where it’s at!

3. The Hague

When choosing a place to live in the Netherlands, The Hague stands out as a great blend of city life and natural beauty. It’s also the third largest city in the Netherlands.

With its mix of tall buildings and green spaces like the seaside and Haagse Bos Woodland in the city center, The Hague is truly captivating.

The city is known for its many embassies and the presence of important international organizations, making it a hub for a diverse international community—around 57% of the residents have a ‘migration background.’

As the political capital and the Dutch government’s seat, The Hague offers a unique chance to bump into the Dutch Prime Minister, who might be seen cycling to work. It’s also home to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.

While The Hague is quieter than Amsterdam, it’s not short on attractions. Some highlights include the Mauritshuis, the Binnenhof, and the popular Scheveningen beach—a go-to spot with its long sandy beach, iconic pier, and lively beach clubs, all just a bike ride away.

If you’re in search of neighborhoods welcoming to expats, you might want to consider Zeeheldenkwartier, Statenkwartier, and Archipelbuurt in The Hague.

Despite facing a housing shortage like many cities in the Randstad region, The Hague is more affordable than Amsterdam or Utrecht.

Compared to Rotterdam, living costs in The Hague are slightly lower, and depending on the neighborhood, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for €900 to €1100 per month.

Simply put, The Hague gives you a mix of city life, nature, and affordability—a great choice for a lively and diverse living experience.

4. Utrecht

Imagine a city that combines Amsterdam’s canal charm, Rotterdam’s energy, and a cozy small-town vibe – that’s Utrecht.

In Utrecht, the canals are special – instead of roads, you have pathways right by the water, offering a close-up view of the city’s watery beauty.

Situated in the heart of the Netherlands, Utrecht is well-connected to big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, all just an hour away.

Once the religious capital, Utrecht’s medieval charm centers around the Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. It’s often called a “little Amsterdam” but with fewer tourists. This historic city offers plenty to explore.

Despite being smaller than the capital, Utrecht hosts more cultural events and is quite picturesque, featuring a fairytale-style castle and the iconic Gothic Dom Tower. Some choose to live in Utrecht for a quieter life and commute to Amsterdam for work.

Housing in Utrecht is around 25% cheaper on average than in Amsterdam. While popular neighborhoods like Oost, Hoograven, Lombok, and Wittevrouwen may have limited options, the new suburb of Leidsche Rijn just outside the city offers more choices and affordability.

For a single-bedroom apartment in Utrecht, you can expect to pay around €1100 to €1500 on average.

Utrecht is full of youthful energy, attracting students, startups, and everyone in between. The city’s unique mix of history and modern amenities makes it a top choice for expats seeking a balanced Dutch experience.

5. Leiden

Right in the heart of the Randstad, Leiden is a perfect place for expats. It’s one of the oldest and prettiest cities in the Netherlands, with charming romantic canals and a cool windmill along one of the main roads.

Even though it’s small with just 124,000 people living there, Leiden’s buzzing with energy because of the famous Leiden University – the oldest university in the Netherlands – making it a lively place for students.

If you love culture, you’re in for a treat! Leiden has a whopping 15 museums, like the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Museum De Lakenhal.

And if you’re into going out for a meal or a drink, Leiden’s got lots of cute bars and cafes that won’t hurt your wallet too much since it’s a student city.

And hey, since it’s part of the famous “Bulb Region,” known for its flower fields, Leiden is the perfect place for checking out those iconic Dutch tulip fields in the spring.

The best part? Getting around is super easy too. Leiden is super close to big cities like Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. You can hop on a 30-minute train to Amsterdam or drive there in just under 40 minutes. Plus, the city is easy to explore on foot or by bike.

While housing in Leiden is more budget-friendly than in places like Amsterdam, it can be a bit competitive, especially with all the students coming in. On average, you’re looking at around €1,436 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center.

If you want something close to the city center, check out neighborhoods like Professorenwijk, Tuinstadwijk, and Lage Mors near the center. If you prefer a quieter spot, check out Merenwijk and Stevenshof, a bit further from the center and great for families.

6. Eindhoven

If you want a modern place to live in the Netherlands, Eindhoven is perfect for you! It might not be the prettiest city traditionally, but it’s full of tech, energy, and innovation.

Eindhoven isn’t the most famous, but it’s fantastic for expats in the tech industry and eco-conscious digital nomads. After World War II, Eindhoven was rebuilt and is now home to big tech companies and startups, like Philips.

That’s why people call it the Silicon Valley of the Netherlands! It’s a top choice for tech, design, and creative startups, making it great for expats in these fields.

Eindhoven is also the greenest of the major Dutch cities, with about a third of the public space being parks. Plus, it’s home to Stratumseind, the longest café and bar street in the Netherlands—perfect for a pub crawl.

And if you want to explore Europe, Eindhoven Airport is the second busiest in the Netherlands and has low-cost airlines like RyanAir and Transavia.

Living costs in Eindhoven are moderate, similar to Utrecht. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Eindhoven city center is around €1,429 per month. If you’re okay with living outside the city center, that’ll cost you around €1,187.

Housing styles vary, with modern apartments in the city center attracting single expats and digital nomads, while larger, older houses in the outer districts give off a family-friendly vibe.

7. Tilburg

Image Credits: @tilburgcity (Instagram)

If you’re thinking about where to live in the Netherlands and want a quieter place than the busy Randstad, Tilburg could be a great choice!

Tilburg used to be known for wool, but now it’s a lively hub for transportation and logistics, with a growing startup scene.

The city has invested a lot in revamping old train yards and warehouses near the central railway station, creating a cool urban landscape while keeping the city’s cultural and industrial history alive.

There’s always something to do in Tilburg, whether it’s enjoying culture, art, museums, or music. It’s also one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands, with lots of parks and forests for walks and picnics.

Tilburg has surprises around every corner, like street art that turns dull walls into vibrant expressions, adding to the city’s unique charm.

Unlike the crowded Randstad, Tilburg still has room to grow, and housing is more reasonably priced. You won’t have to break the bank for a tiny basement room without windows.

If you’re curious about rent, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Tilburg city center is around €1,144 per month.

8. Haarlem

Haarlem is a beautiful and historic city in the Netherlands, dating back to 1245. It’s small but charming, with cobbled streets and a village-like vibe along the river Spaarne.

Getting around is easy with Haarlem centrally located in the Randstad area. A 20-minute train ride from Haarlem Central Station takes you to Amsterdam.

Because of its location close to the capital and the coast, Haarlem is becoming a popular choice for expats. It is a peaceful and family-friendly choice for expats offering a range of events and activities for children.

The city offers a break from city life, with nearby seaside towns like Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort. Nature lovers can enjoy urban forests and the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. Plus, it’s a quick bike ride to the famous tulip fields.

As more folks are drawn to Haarlem, housing costs have gone up. But because Haarlem is quite small, it’s a good idea to check out neighborhoods outside the city center for more affordable options.

For expats, there are friendly neighborhoods like Oude Amsterdamsebuurt, Kleine Hout, and Leidsevaartbuurt. If you prefer an upscale area, check out Koninginnebuurt and Kleverparkbuurt.

Living near the coast in suburbs like Bloemendaal, Heemstede, and Overveen is also an option.

Many expats find Haarlem to be a quieter and more affordable alternative to Amsterdam. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment typically ranges from €1,200 to €1,600.

9. Maastricht

In the southern part of the Netherlands, you’ll find Maastricht—a city known for its medieval charm and vibrant culture. Maastricht has an impressive 1,677 national heritage buildings, ranking second only to Amsterdam in the country.

Situated along the beautiful Meuse River (Maas), Maastricht treats visitors to stunning riverside views. The cobblestone streets of its old town add a touch of enchantment, making a walk through Maastricht feel like stepping into a fairy tale.

Living in Maastricht is a delightful experience, offering a blend of charming cafes, medieval history, and repurposed Gothic structures. Surprisingly, the city also features hills, making it a sought-after destination for those who enjoy picnics, walks, and cycling.

Maastricht has a cool cosmopolitan vibe, thanks to its central spot in Europe. It’s perfect for travel enthusiasts! Just a heads up, though – knowing some Dutch can make your time here even more enjoyable, and it might open up more job options for you.

Many expats find Wyck and Céramique, situated on the eastern bank of the Meuse River and close to the city center, to be ideal places to live. Other sought-after areas include Boschstraatkwartier, Bosscherveld, and Lanakerveld, located to the northwest.

For those who prefer a green residential area, Sint Pieter in the south offers proximity to some of Maastricht’s unique attractions, such as the Zonneberg Caves (Grotten Zonneberg), castle ruins at Hoeve Lichtenberg, and the picturesque Mount Saint Peter (Sint Pietersberg).

If you’re considering renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, the average cost in Maastricht is approximately €1,342 per month.

10. Groningen

When people talk about Groningen, locals often say, “that’s so far away!” But in reality, it’s just a pleasant two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Amsterdam, with beautiful views along the way.

Groningen is the biggest city in the northern part of the Netherlands, and it’s buzzing with energy due to its large student population. This youthful vibe makes it diverse and a lot of fun.

The city has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages, and you can see it in the impressive Martinitoren building.

Unlike the bustling Randstad area, Groningen has its own unique charm. It hosts plenty of cultural events, and with a ton of students around, the nightlife is unbeatable. People love the fresh air, and the weekly farmers market at the Vismarkt is a favorite among locals.

European Commission reports consistently rank Groningen as one of the happiest cities in Europe. They consider factors like quality of life, education, and healthcare.

While finding a job without knowing Dutch can be a bit tricky, and getting to other big cities or Schiphol Airport requires some travel, living costs in Groningen are much more affordable than in Randstad.

Even though Groningen is a bit farther from major cities and the airport, you can save about 53% on rent compared to Amsterdam.

Popular neighborhoods for students and expats include Schilderswijk and Zeeheldenbuurt near Noorderplantsoen Park, as well as Rivierenbuurt and the alternative Oosterport district.

On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Groningen costs around €1,107 per month.

11. Arnhem

Nestled in the eastern part of the Netherlands, Arnhem is the capital of Gelderland province. This charming city is located along the banks of the Lower Rhine, offering a picturesque setting for residents and visitors alike.

If you love being close to nature, Arnhem is the place for you. The city offers beautiful cycling and walking spots, including the stunning Veluwezoom National Park, with its vast forests and scenic trails covering 11,362 acres.

While Arnhem has a smaller international community compared to cities like Randstad, which means fewer social activities for non-Dutch speakers, there’s a silver lining. Arnhem is conveniently close to Utrecht, where you can find more cultural and social events.

The bonus? Arnhem is a more budget-friendly city compared to others in the area. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around $1,038 per month.

12. Nijmegen

Nijmegen, the biggest city in the Gelderland province near Germany, proudly holds the title of the oldest city in the Netherlands, going way back to Roman times.

The city is not just a history buff’s dream with cool old buildings like Stevenskerk in the lively Grote Markt square.

It’s also a great place to soak in a lively atmosphere, with lots of cafes, restaurants, and shops in the city center. And hey, you can even shop on the oldest shopping street in the country, Lange Hezelstraat!

But, fair warning, if you’re not up on your Dutch, settling here might have a few extra challenges.

The city is famous for hosting the annual Four Days Marches (De Vierdaagse), the world’s largest multi-day walking event. If you’re a fan of strolling, it’s a fantastic way to explore the beautiful surroundings of Nijmegen.

Living in Nijmegen comes with a perk – the cost of living, especially rent, is significantly lower compared to other major cities. The city is divided into various districts, with the city center situated south of the Waal River and Nijmegen-Noord to the north.

Expats often choose Dukenberg and Lindenholt, known for ample green spaces. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages around $1,175 per month.

13. Hilversum

Hilversum is a posh town southeast of Amsterdam, part of both the Randstad and the Amsterdam metropolitan area.

It’s surrounded by nature reserves, lakes, woods, and meadows, making it a popular choice for those who work in the city but want a green, peaceful place to live.

Connected to Amsterdam and Utrecht, Hilversum has a serene vibe, but watch out for busy roads between Hilversum and Amsterdam during rush hours.

Hilversum is a relaxed city with all the essentials you’d need: shopping, swimming pools, cinemas, bars, and restaurants.

Big companies like Nike have their European headquarters here, and there’s even an international school. It gives you the benefits of the city with an extra touch of peace.

As for housing, it’s no different than the other Dutch cities. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around $1,498 per month.

14. Amersfoort

Amersfoort, in the Utrecht province, is a major city that’s just right—not too big or crowded. It has cool remnants of an old city wall, like the impressive Kopelpoort gate, and a charming medieval center.

The city has a relaxed vibe, hosts lots of fun events, and is a great spot if you need to commute to work in the Randstad. Living in Amersfoort can be a bit pricey due to its proximity to major cities.

On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center typically costs around $1,415 per month. However, it’s a fantastic place for families, offering easy access to excellent international and Dutch schools.

15. Almere

Almere is the newest city in the Netherlands, and it’s quite special because it was literally created by reclaiming land from the Ijsselmeer Lake between 1959 and 1968.

Being purpose-built, it offers spacious and well-planned residential areas, with options to design and build your own home—something not common in the Netherlands.

Perfect for young families, Almere features woodlands, parks, beaches, and a variety of schools, including an international one.

The city has a modern look and amenities, making it a convenient 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam with excellent public transport.

On the flip side, some might miss the old-world Dutch charm in Almere since it’s so new. Also, meeting people could be a bit trickier as the international community is still growing. Nevertheless, the city is gaining popularity among both international and

For housing, the average one-bedroom apartment in Almere’s city center is around $1,203 per month, while apartments outside the city center are more budget-friendly at approximately $985.

16. Delft

Let’s wrap up our journey with Delft, a city that beautifully mixes history and innovation. Ever imagined living in a place straight out of a Vermeer painting?

Well, that’s Delft for you. Its old town is like a cultural treasure trove with narrow lanes and centuries-old houses to explore.

But here’s the cool part—Delft isn’t stuck in the past, it’s a modern hub for innovation. It’s home to the respected Delft University of Technology, attracting aspiring engineers and creating a unique blend of history and high-tech vibes.

And here’s the kicker—living in Delft won’t break the bank. Despite its rich culture and cutting-edge innovation, the cost of living is reasonable, especially compared to more famous Dutch cities.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem for expats looking for a diverse and balanced lifestyle. You can easily find accommodation with monthly rents ranging from €450 to €1050.

Wrapping Up

Whether you love the buzz of Amsterdam, the modern vibes of Rotterdam, or the calming coastal scenes in The Hague, there’s a perfect place for every kind of expat.

If you’re after a truly Dutch lifestyle, places like Amsterdam, Utrecht, or Haarlem are fantastic choices. They blend rich culture with modern comforts, giving you an authentic taste of the Netherlands.

For those who prefer a lively urban vibe, Rotterdam or The Hague might be more your style. These cities are buzzing with diverse cultural experiences and offer a vibrant atmosphere.

Just like in any country, figuring out the best places to live in the Netherlands boils down to what you personally prefer, what matters most to you, and your specific situation.

Remember to consider practical aspects like the cost of living and job opportunities while making your decision.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful ideas about the coolest cities to make your home in the Netherlands.

Bonjour! I'm Parv, and I'm on a mission to discover the world's most awe-inspiring destinations. With my trusty backpack and my insatiable wanderlust, I've trekked through countless countries and discovered some of the most incredible hidden gems on earth.

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