The Netherlands, a country situated in northwest Europe, is bordered to the north and west by the North Sea, to the south by Belgium and to the east by Germany. The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces, and the capital is Amsterdam. Their official language is Dutch, and the euro (EUR) is the currency.
The Netherlands has a wide community of ex-pats. The high living standards, the bikes, the healthy economy and the low crime rate make Holland an attractive ex-pat destination. But in Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff’s words, “There’s a drawback to every advantage.” In the Dutch Lowlands, it is not all gold and glitter.
Some of the pros and cons of moving to The Netherlands are mentioned below:
Pros of Living in the Netherlands
The Netherlands offers a lot of freedom. Freedom of expression is one of the rights that politicians, in particular, are fond of practising, because you are permitted to say almost anything. Then you have the right to protest.
When any large group is unsatisfied with something, they exercise their right to protest. Usually, the police are around to make sure things aren’t getting out of hand.
Another part of freedom is the right to be who you are. The LGBTQ group in The Netherlands is alive and flourishing. There are, sadly, several incidents of senseless abuse, but most of the time the LGBTQ community can express itself and be in public without any negative consequences.
Everywhere in the Netherlands, there are public transports: trains, metro, trams, and busses. To be sure, the trains are delayed every other day, and public transportation prices are pretty high, but public transportation eventually gives everyone the chance to go where they want to.
3. Health Insurance
You are supposed to get health insurance while you live in the Netherlands. Most people are dissatisfied with the monthly payment needed for health insurance since it is very high.
But it is a great government advantage: Dutch people residing in the Netherlands can still obtain medical help without having to pay large amounts of extra fees. Some feel they pay for nothing, as they very almost always don’t really need medical care. But they will be receiving it the moment they need healthcare services.
4. Food Hubs
There are food centres throughout the country, providing free food for the less fortunate. Both the staff in the food centres are volunteers. When an individual sign up at the food centre to obtain food, the centre checks to see if they are registered.
They can pick up the food packages once a week. The quality of each food package ranges from meat, potatoes and sweets to personal hygiene items.
The roads are great in the Netherlands. A lot of money goes into caring for the roads and it shows. No unforeseen potholes, or unsafe or half-finished roads.
Cons of Living in the Netherlands
1. High taxes
The Netherlands is known for essentially all its infamous high tax rates on. Income tax is particularly high compared with other places in Europe and owning a car is also expensive. You may find that electronic products in the Netherlands are more expensive and some food can be a little expensive too.
Once you learn how to shop and where to find stuff, you can get some decent offers. Rent prices are generally very high all over the country, but this is because of supply and demand. Jobs generally pay pretty well here, so, in the end, it’s all relative.
Unfortunately, the Netherlands also has a lot of hidden racism. You might not get yelled at or attacked when you walk down the street, but there is racism and the discrimination is evident during work interviews or discussions at times.
The Netherlands has a very big housing problem. So finding a great house at a reasonable price might be difficult. One alternative is to rent a private house from a landlord, but the price for private housing is very high because the landlords are aware of the housing crisis and most of them use this to their advantage.
Dutch is a very difficult language to learn. Therefore, it might be a challenge to read and speak Dutch. Luckily a lot of Dutch people are speaking English and you can fall back on that.
Cost of Living
Living costs in the Netherlands are fairly inexpensive for Western Europe, though living costs are usually higher in Amsterdam and other major Dutch cities. Although the cost of living for the Netherlands may not be classified as cheap, living in this charming and mysterious area of Western Europe is possible without breaking the bank.
Housing is a large part of the living costs of ex-pats in the Netherlands, due to high demand (and limited supply) for quality rental property, especially influencing the living costs in Amsterdam. House sharing is the best choice for students and single people on a modest wage, but you can’t always guarantee that the conditions are what you’re used to in your own country.
The costs of education in the Netherlands are equivalent to those of other EU countries and the US, although it clearly depends on the choice of school. Public schools are open, and universities in the Netherlands offer inexpensive courses for EU students beginning at around €2,060 a year, with usually higher fees for non-EU students. MBA services range in total from €40,000 to € 50,000.
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) reports that for living expenses in the Netherlands plus health insurance, students need a total of €10,500 annually. All major cities in the Netherlands also have international schools, which predominantly offer bilingual classes in English. Tuition fees range generally from €5,000 to €16,000 per annum.
The expense of a simple health insurance plan starts at about €100 a month, in return for free or subsidized primary treatment like prescription medications. You can obtain the same level of care through your European Health Insurance Card if you are an EU citizen and are only planning a short-term stay in the Netherlands.
The staple food in the Netherlands isn’t too costly. General supermarkets like Albert Heijn and Dirk van den Broek stock a good supply of daily food that is typically cheaper than specialist stores.
If you have a smaller budget for food, head to Aldi and Lidl or the street markets where you can save 10-15%. As a general rule, ex-pat families are expected to budget around €300–€500 per month for basic grocery shopping, while singles are expected to live off much less.
Cost of Dining Out
Dining out is affordable in the Netherlands if you stick towards the more modest restaurants. There is plenty of competition in the cosmopolitan choice of restaurants in most countries, but dining out can be costly in Amsterdam and The Hague. A regular evening meal will cost between € 10 and €17 per person in a cheap restaurant and about €25 per person in an average restaurant.
If you have a few beers or a bottle of wine, add 10€ to it. You can expect to dine in a nice restaurant with a bottle of wine if you budget between € 30 and €40 per person. Usually, beers are served in half-pints (0,25L) and cost around €3, with a house wine costing about € 5. Tips aren’t included in bills but are usually up to 10% while 15% or more is generous.
Gas and electricity are relatively costly in the Netherlands, which can raise living costs in the Netherlands. Expats are expected to budget around €120–€150 each month for those utilities.
When assessed with a water meter, water costs are much cheaper; you should expect to pay about €50 per annum. Bills are based on the number of occupants and the type of property, without a water meter. Residents also pay €130 per year in sewerage charges.