Relocating to a different country can be an overwhelming experience, whether for work, education, or a fresh start. When considering a move to the Netherlands, it’s important to consider various factors such as the cost of living, community, education, safety, job opportunities, and the overall environment.
Following Newton’s third law, which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, living in the Netherlands has its own advantages and disadvantages. It’s essential to carefully weigh these pros and cons before making the decision to move to the Netherlands.
So, what are the challenges of moving to the Netherlands? What are the benefits of moving to the Netherlands? To help you make an informed decision, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands.
Whether you dream of cycling along tulip-filled fields, indulging in Dutch delicacies, or immersing yourself in the rich history and art, the Netherlands promises a unique and enriching experience.
So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together and explore the goods and not-so-goods of living in the Netherlands.
Pros and Cons of Living in the Netherlands – At a Glance
|Pros of Living in the Netherlands||Cons of Living in the Netherlands|
|Great Work-Life Balance||Taxes are High|
|Dutch People are Friendly and Welcoming||Periodical Bad Weather|
|High-quality Education||Cost of Living is High|
|Best Non-Native English Speakers||Housing Crisis is Real|
|Dutch food is irresistible||It’s expensive to own a car|
|Great Healthcare System||High Population Density|
|Top-Tier Safety Standards||Cultural Differences in the Dutch Service Industry|
|State-of-the-Art Transportation System|
|Great Cycling Culture|
Embracing the Dutch Dream: The Pros of Living in the Netherlands
Picture yourself standing at the crossroads of a life-changing decision: relocating to the charming land of the Netherlands. But why should you consider this vibrant and culturally rich country as your new home?
Well, let me assure you, the Netherlands is brimming with compelling reasons to inspire you to make that move.
From its picturesque landscapes to its great cycling culture and a quality of life that ranks among the best in the world, the Netherlands has it all.
So, what exactly makes the Netherlands a sought-after destination? Get ready, because I’m about to reveal some of the incredible advantages of calling the Netherlands your home. Prepare to embark on an exciting journey!
1. Great Work-Life Balance
One of the most cherished aspects of life in The Netherlands is its remarkable work-life balance.
The typical workweek in the country spans 36-40 hours, and each year, you can look forward to enjoying 25 days of paid vacation in addition to approximately 10 paid national holidays.
What’s even more remarkable is that nearly half of the Dutch workforce opts for part-time employment, making for a diverse and flexible job market.
The Dutch are often celebrated for their philosophy of working to live rather than living to work.
Many expats who have embraced the Dutch work-life balance find it challenging to readjust to the more demanding work-life dynamics of American and Asian cultures when they return to their home countries.
It’s remarkable how one can acclimate to a fulfilling life without the need to clock in 60-80 hours per week.
2. Dutch People are Friendly and Welcoming
Human beings are inherently social creatures, craving regular contact and personal connections.
In the Netherlands, the people are known for their friendliness, readily engaging with and extending a warm welcome to newcomers.
Such a welcoming community can be immensely comforting when you’re grappling with feelings of homesickness. Yet, establishing a close-knit social circle may not be a breeze initially.
However, once a Dutch person invites you into their inner circle, you’ll come to appreciate their qualities of trustworthiness, loyalty, love, and warmth.
You have opportunities to forge friendships with your neighbors, colleagues, or fellow park-goers during casual gatherings and barbecues.
3. High-quality Education
The Netherlands boasts one of the most highly educated populations in Europe, if not the world.
This educational excellence has made The Netherlands particularly attractive to international students, with 14% of all college and university students coming from abroad.
One key factor contributing to this substantial international student population is the availability of many programs taught exclusively in English.
This is not only excellent news for international students but also has a significant impact on the English proficiency of Dutch students.
The cost of university education in the Netherlands is notably more affordable than in many other countries, further encouraging the influx of foreign students.
Another remarkable advantage for expatriates in the Netherlands is the abundance of international schools.
Consequently, if you relocate to the Netherlands with children who are accustomed to their home country’s education system, their education can seamlessly continue without the need to learn Dutch or adapt to a different educational system.
According to a recent OECD report on education levels in the country, nearly half of individuals aged 25-34 in the Netherlands have achieved a college or university degree, surpassing the OECD average of 44%.
4. Best Non-Native English Speakers
The Netherlands boasts the highest level of English proficiency among non-native countries, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to explore life beyond their homeland.
In an annual global study assessing English proficiency known as the English Proficiency Index (EPI), the Netherlands has consistently clinched the top spot for four consecutive years, with an impressive score of 661
Since most people in the Netherlands can engage in conversational English, you can take comfort in knowing that there will always be someone ready to assist you if you find yourself in a challenging situation.
On the flip side, if your aim is to become part of Dutch society, mastering the Dutch language is crucial. This is because, in social interactions and gatherings, the Dutch often switch back to their native tongue swiftly.
5. Dutch food is irresistible
You’ll find lots of tasty traditional Dutch dishes, like AVG’tje, pea soup, hutspot, stamppot, pancakes, hachee, brown bean soup, and huzarensalade.
Dutch food is diverse and inspired by flavors from around the world. So you don’t have to worry about finding something to eat because these dishes usually use ingredients that are easy to find.
Whether you like your food spicy, smoky, vegetarian, fried, or dried, you’ll discover a meal you enjoy.
And, Dutch farms provide most of the ingredients for these dishes, not to mention the fantastic cheese options.
6. Great Healthcare System
When it comes to healthcare, the Dutch system stands out for its fairness. It’s structured to prevent financial hardship, regardless of your health condition. Everyone pays the same basic healthcare fee, ensuring equality in the system.
Additionally, you can choose to add extra healthcare services, like dental or mental health care, for a bit more cost.
Furthermore, if you have a low income, the government offers a healthcare allowance called “zorgtoeslag” to ease the financial burden of healthcare expenses. 💸
7. Top-Tier Safety Standards
The Netherlands is known for its impressive track record of maintaining low crime rates, making it a great place to live with a high level of safety.
In fact, in the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands secured the 21st spot for safety, highlighting its commitment to providing a secure environment for its residents and visitors alike.
While the overall risk of crime in the Netherlands is relatively low, it’s essential to exercise caution, especially if you find yourself wandering alone at night.
This advice holds true for anyone, whether you’re a family with children or a solo female traveler considering a move to this beautiful country.
In most areas of the Netherlands, you can expect a safe and peaceful living environment. However, it’s still a good idea to steer clear of high-crime areas and take necessary precautions to ensure your well-being.
In a nutshell, the Netherlands offers a secure and peaceful living environment, with safety measures in place to ensure your well-being. While it’s generally safe, practicing caution is a good habit no matter where you choose to live.
8. State-of-the-Art Transportation System
The Netherlands is a very small country — making it easy to travel to different cities. You can travel from one side to the other in under three hours. Isn’t that incredible?
And to top it all, Public transportation in the Netherlands is exceptionally well-connected. Take Rotterdam as an example, it has the best public transportation system among all Dutch cities, thanks to its extensive metro lines.
The intercity transportation network is also excellent, allowing you to live in places like The Hague or Utrecht and have a quick 30-minute commute to Amsterdam for work.
The Netherlands also loves bikes, making it super easy to get around, and that leads us to the next advantage of living in the Netherlands.
9. Great Cycling Culture
The Netherlands is famous for its cycling culture, where regardless of the weather, you’ll see locals pedaling around. It’s not only a healthy and cost-effective way to get around but also an integral part of daily life.
With dedicated cycle lanes, it’s the perfect place to rekindle your love for cycling, although you may need to navigate the bustling streets cautiously.
Even your children can easily join in the fun. Many kids in the Netherlands can ride a bike almost as naturally as they walk.
In short, if you planning to live in the Netherlands, get ready for the entire family to embrace the cycling lifestyle wholeheartedly.
Challenges to Consider: The Cons of Living in the Netherlands
Imagine you’re daydreaming about making the Netherlands your new home. It’s a country known for its charm, culture, and progressive values, and it may seem like a dream come true.
But hold on! Before you start packing your bags and booking your flight, let’s first take a look at the not-so-good things about living in the Netherlands. Like any other place, it comes with its share of pros and cons.
While the Netherlands offers a high quality of life and a host of advantages, it’s equally crucial to consider the aspects that may not align with your preferences and priorities.
So, what are the potential downsides of living in the Netherlands? Let’s explore them together.
1. Taxes are High
In the Netherlands, taxes can be pretty high on almost everything. Income tax is especially high compared to other places in Europe, and owning a car can be expensive as well.
Also, electronic gadgets and some food items tend to cost more here. But if you know where and how to shop, you can find good deals.
Rent can be quite pricey all over the country because there are more people looking for homes than there are homes available. However, jobs generally pay well, so it kind of balances out in the end. 🤷🏻♂️
2. Weather is Unpredictable
In the Netherlands, you’ll find a unique climate situated in the temperate zone. It’s not too cold in the winter (around 3°C) and not too hot in the summer (around 17°C).
But there’s a twist to the story – the weather here can be quite unpredictable, making it feel like perpetual autumn.
Coastal areas enjoy more sunshine than the inland regions, but gray skies are a common sight, often accompanied by light rain. The sun doesn’t make frequent appearances.
The real gems are the short-lived sunny days in July and August. People here cherish those moments when temperatures reach what they consider “warm” (room temperature or a bit above). This is when you seize the opportunity to capture picturesque moments that attract tourists.
Here’s a golden rule: Dutch weather is ever-changing. Never venture outdoors without a coat. If you leave it behind, brace yourself for rain; if you wear it, the sun might make a sudden appearance, leaving you feeling overly warm.
The Dutch weather loves to keep you guessing! 😝
3. Cost of Living is High
In the Netherlands, it feels like everything comes with a significant price tag, whether it’s rent, groceries, shopping, or even event tickets.
Living expenses in the Netherlands are estimated to range from 800 to 1000 Euros per month, encompassing costs for food, transportation, insurance, and various other necessities.
Interestingly, the cost of public transportation tickets can sometimes exceed your grocery expenses. The service industry also tends to be on the expensive side, so acquiring some basic DIY skills for minor repairs could be a money-saving strategy.
The healthcare system, while excellent, comes with its own set of costs, including insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
Considering these financial aspects, it is essential for individuals and families to budget carefully and plan for the associated expenses.
Even though living in the Netherlands can be expensive, the good news is that job opportunities here often come with excellent salaries, helping you manage these costs more comfortably.
I’ve also put together an in-depth article about the Cost of Living in the Netherlands. If you are planning to move to the Netherlands, be sure to give it a read!
4. Housing Crisis is Real
The housing crisis is a significant challenge in the Netherlands. It’s essential to start your housing search well in advance, although there are no guarantees of finding a place immediately. Nevertheless, don’t lose hope!
Housing costs in the Netherlands, especially in cities like Amsterdam, can be quite steep. If you plan to live in Amsterdam or other cities in the Randstad area, be prepared for a patient house-hunting process and allocate a bit more to your budget.
This advice also pertains to students. Even if you’ve received an unconditional offer from a university, not securing accommodation promptly can lead to situations like sleeping in a tent or having to postpone your course for a year (yes, it’s a true story—this actually happens). 🤯
5. It’s expensive to own a car
Keeping a car in the Netherlands can be quite expensive. It’s not just the initial purchase cost; you’ll also be shelling out for fuel, repairs, and insurance.
This high cost is due to the Dutch government’s strategy to discourage driving, although it hasn’t been particularly successful.
Moreover, there are regulations to prevent people from buying cheaper cars in neighboring countries like Germany.
So, if you have plans to save money by purchasing a car from abroad, take note of these restrictions. 🚗
6. High Population Density
One of the notable downsides of living in the Netherlands is its exceptionally high population density.
If you’re planning to move to major Dutch cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or Utrecht, you’ll find yourself in some of the most densely populated areas in Western Europe.
This dense population brings a few challenges. Streets can be crowded, public transport bustling, and there’s a constant urban buzz. This might be overwhelming if you’re used to quieter, less crowded places.
While the high population density has its benefits, like cultural diversity and easy access to amenities, it’s important to weigh these factors against your personal preferences when thinking about living in the Netherlands.
7. Cultural Differences in the Dutch Service Industry
Customer service in the Netherlands has its own unique characteristics that might be different from what you’re used to in other countries.
While it’s rare to encounter outright rudeness, the Dutch are not widely known for their exceptional customer service skills. 😒
You might find yourself waiting for a while, whether it’s speaking with a manager, being in a long queue on the phone with 25 other callers, or waiting for weeks to receive an email response.
Dealing with administrative matters like letters and deliveries can also be a bit frustrating at times, especially if there are delays in physical mail.
To navigate these challenges successfully, be prepared to have patience and a thick skin, as Dutch customer service may sometimes test both.
Taking your time to think about what matters most to you, what you like, and how you live is really important when deciding if the Netherlands is the right place for you.
Whether you’re excited about the good balance between work and life, great education, and friendly people, or if you’re worried about the high cost of living and busy cities, making a smart decision will help you move smoothly into your new life in the Netherlands.
As you plan your move, it’s important to explore the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands. Remember, no place is perfect, so take the opportunity to discover how this experience can shape your life. Best wishes for your upcoming move! 🧡
Living in the Netherlands – FAQs
Here are some of the most asked questions about moving to the Netherlands.
Q1. Is the Netherlands a good place to live?
The Netherlands is known for being one of the happiest places on Earth. People there enjoy a great quality of life, excellent healthcare, a good balance between work and personal time, and a strong sense of safety and diversity.
They have fantastic public transportation and a strong social safety net. It’s a lovely place to live. To help you decide wisely, be sure to explore our list of pros and cons of living in the Netherlands.
Q2. What are the safest places to live in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands offers something for everyone, and most places are safe. Couples may prefer Utrecht as their ideal settling spot, while solo travelers often find joy in living in Maastricht.
Expats tend to appreciate life in Leiden, while English speakers often feel comfortable in Amsterdam. Digital nomads might discover Eindhoven as their ideal destination. Of course, these locations come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, but the positives typically outweigh the negatives.
Q3. What are the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands?
Moving to the Netherlands has its perks, including a great work-life balance, friendly people, excellent education, and top-notch healthcare. On the flip side, it can get a bit expensive with a high cost of living, and the weather can be unpredictable.
Finding a place to live might be a bit challenging due to the competitive housing market. So, consider these ups and downs when thinking about moving to the Netherlands.
Q4. Do they speak English in the Netherlands?
Yes, the Dutch are known for their high level of proficiency in English. You’ll notice that English is widely used in business, schools, and everyday conversations, especially in big cities and among younger people. So, if you’re an English speaker, you’ll have no trouble communicating and getting by in the Netherlands.
Q5. Is the Netherlands a foreigner-friendly country?
The Dutch are friendly to people from other countries and make an effort to include newcomers in their communities. They believe in fairness and have a generally open-minded society. If you’re an expat moving to the Netherlands, you’ll have lots of opportunities to meet and connect with local folks.
Q6. How is life in the Netherlands as a foreigner?
Living in the Netherlands as an expat offers a great quality of life with friendly locals and low crime rates. The country’s diverse culture is vibrant and exciting. Yet, just like moving anywhere new, thorough research and planning are essential. It’s important to remember that the Netherlands has its own set of rules, regulations, and procedures that expats may find challenging to adjust to initially.
Q7. Is it expensive to live in the Netherlands?
Living in the Netherlands can be costly, but it depends on where you are. Big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht are more expensive than smaller towns and rural areas.
However, it’s worth noting that salaries in the Netherlands generally align with the higher cost of living. The country offers a high quality of life with excellent public services, infrastructure, and a strong social safety net.
Make sure to check out our post on the Cost of Living in the Netherlands for more insights.
Q8. Is it easy to get a job in the Netherlands?
Finding a job in the Netherlands can be quite doable, but it depends on a few things. The country has a strong job market, especially in fields like technology, engineering, and healthcare.
However, if you don’t have skills that are in high demand, it might be a bit more challenging. Your language skills also matter. Many jobs ask for Dutch proficiency, although English works in larger cities and some industries. Utilizing online job platforms and building a network can be valuable tools in your job search.
Q9. Is it difficult to learn Dutch?
Dutch might look tough at first, but surprisingly, it’s one of the easier languages for English speakers. It’s kind of a middle ground between German and English. Still, no matter what your native language is, learning Dutch will take time and effort.
Just remember, the key to success is being consistent, staying patient, and practicing regularly to improve your Dutch language skills.