Living in the Netherlands

Living in The Netherlands is known as the Gateway to Europe as a result of its waterway network, which links Belgium, France and Germany. With a population of approximately 16.6 million people, it is a very densly populated place to live and is one of the most crowded places in Europe.

The Netherlands is extremely flat with a staggering 27% of the entire country being built on reclaimed land. This has led to the immense sprawl of dykes throughout the country, for which it is now famous.

The Netherlands is culturally rich and has many of the world’s most famous artists including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Mondrian.

Netherlands as an expat destination

The Netherlands is a fairly popular location for expats, the majority of which are able to adjust quite easily to the Dutch way of life. Expats are so welcome here that those with residency status are permitted to vote in local elections.

The biggest challenge Expats face when living in the Netherlands is the beauracracy. Guidelines and rules are applied to almost everything and expats often find it frustrating trying to cut through the red tape, and its associated long waiting times, in order to achieve what seems like basic tasks.

Cost of living in The Netherlands

The cost of living in The Netherlands has risen steadily over the past few years but despite this it still remains lower here than it is in many other European countries and in the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey the city of Amsterdam featured in position 57 on the list of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live.

The Netherlands has a high population density and this impacts property prices in the country. Foreigners are only eligible for free-sector apartments, which means the highest rates will be paid for the smallest apartments. Tax rates are also high. However, life in the Netherlands as a foreigner isn’t all doom and gloom. The proliferation of low cost supermarkets entail that Groceries remain fairly cheap and medical services can also be accessed at a reasonable price.

If you are considering moving to Amsterdam please see our guide to living in Amsterdam. It contains a comprehensive section on the cost of living in Amsterdam and provides up to date pricing lists for everyday items and services across a range of different lifestyles.


Dutch (official), Frisian (official). English is widely spoken and understood.

Climate in Netherlands

Temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters

Living in The Netherlands: Expat job and career opportunities

It can be very challenging to find a job in the Netherlands if you are a foreigner. The majority of jobs require good Dutch language skills and there are also restrictive regulations regarding the employment of non EU/EEA citizens. Finding a job is easier for those who are living in The Netherlands and looking for work in retail, restaurants/bars or teaching foreign languages.

A significant source of employment within the Netherlands is within the services industry and the majority of jobs exist in areas such as business services, health and welfare services, trade and transport and communications sector.

Key facts every expat should know before moving to The Netherlands

  1. Unfortunately there are few national holidays in The Netherlands, so any vacation days negotiated as part of a contract will not be supplemented.
  2. Foreigners living in the Netherlands on a permanent basis and/ those earning a salary in the Netherlands are required to purchase a basic insurance from a Dutch health care insurance company.
  3. Everyone living in The Netherlands above the age of 14 are required to carry some form of identification (‘verblijfsdocument’) as proof of residency status. There is an on-the-spot fine for non-compliance.
  4. Before moving to the Netherland you should know that most breeds of dog are permitted entry into The Netherlands, Pit Bull terriers and associated crossbreeds are not permitted so if you have this type of dog you will have to leave it at home.
  5. In The Netherlands there is a tax reimbursement ruling that is known as the 30% ruling. This states that foreign workers in the Netherlands are permitted a tax free allowance amounting to 30% times 100 / 70 of the gross salary subject. The maximum tax rate for expat workers in thus 36.4%. There are a number of requirements that have to be met, details of which can be found in the Amsterdam city guide.

Living in The Netherlands: Dutch city guides

Expat Info Desk currently has a city guide available for living in the Netherlands; living in Amsterdam. This exhaustive guide contains everything you need to know before moving to the Netherlands and will assist you to:

  • relocate efficiently and effectively with minimum stress.
  • settle in to your new life quickly and easily and find the help and assistance you need, when you need it.
  • identify areas to live in that suit your lifestyle and budget.
  • find the right places to meet like-minded people.
  • find schools that are suitable for your children and their learning needs.
  • ensure that your family get the most of their experiences abroad.
  • prepare for the new culture in advance and avoid any cultural traps.
  • deal with any transition challenges.
  • cut through red tape and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

Unlike a book, our guide to living in Amsterdam is regularly reviewed and updated in order to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable and because the guide is written by a real expat who lives and works in Amsterdam, you can be assured that you are accessing the information that you need as written by someone who really is in the know.

Your only expat guide to living in The Netherlands; Feel at home abroad – Fast!

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