5 reasons the Netherlands is the best place to live for expat families

The Netherlands is the best place to live for expat families? It’s true! The land of stroopwafels and bikes came out top for the honour, according to a 2018 HSBC Expat Explorer survey.

It’s really no surprise in a country with a great economy, great childcare, great healthcare, great education system, excellent English and a life revolving around biking. (Okay, okay, we’ll quit talking up the Netherlands now — just kidding).

No, but seriously, why exactly is the Netherlands among the best places to live for expat families?

1. Children’s wellbeing and health

The Netherlands is at the top of its game when it comes to children’s well-being and health, making the Netherlands an obvious choice for expats with kids. In fact, according to a 2020 UNICEF report, Dutch children were ranked the happiest of all.

READ MORE | 5 reasons why Dutch kids are happier than American kids

If we grew up with all that cheese, flowers, biking, and the great Dutch scenery — we would be too.

2. A top-notch education system

The Netherlands also has countless international schools. Image: Freepik

The Netherlands is a top spot for expat families because of its education system. The Netherlands has an exceptional education system, which is made even easier for expat families due to the ease of integrating a child within.

READ MORE | International schools in the Netherlands: the complete guide for 2022

This is especially so if your child speaks English. The quality of learning is also excellent, and an awful lot of children then go on to go to university. In fact, according to OECD research, 42% of Dutchies aged 25-64 hold a tertiary degree — that’s well above the EU average of 37%.

3. Affordability of childcare

Childcare in the Netherlands is seen as being very affordable, especially in comparison to other countries. Dutch child benefits and childhood allowance mean that people have affordable childcare, especially when working or studying within the Netherlands.

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to applying for child benefits in the Netherlands

This goes for expats too. So rest assured you can take your children to the Netherlands, still work and have some money left at the end of it (unlike some places)!

4. Generous maternity and paternity leave

Family time is important! Image: Freepik

Yep! Even if you don’t have a family yet, you’ll benefit from the minute your bun is taken out of the oven. Mothers in the Netherlands can take advantage of 16 weeks of paid maternity leave while being paid 100% of their regular earnings.

Meanwhile, new dads can take up to five weeks off at 70% of their regular paycheck.

5. It’s easy to settle with the best non-native speakers in the world

If you are a native English speaker or speak English fluently, you’re in luck. The Dutch are the best non-native speakers of English. As modest as they are, it’s hard to struggle to settle in the Netherlands because the language barrier is very small in comparison to other countries for expats.

This makes it easier to secure jobs, integrate children into school and, in general, to survive the start of your life in NL. It’s definitely a heck of a lot less stressful for this reason!

Why do you think the Netherlands is the best place to live for expat families? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019, and was fully updated in September 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

What do you think?

  1. Netherlands: very organized country, security in being paid a pension or no private pension or government pensions going bankrupt . Excellent health service as EVERYONE has health insurance.
    Social help and services are incredible organized , I have been living here for 18 months and still i am in awe of the way of life. No stress, money is important but not the main things in the people’s lives.

    • would you still recommend the NL as a livable place? I’m thinking of moving there. America has gotten very divided and more and more dangerous for the quality of life balance I’m seeking.

  2. The Netherlands is a stupendous country to live. Despite the winter weather, I was extremely happy and safe. And the people, museums and culture is wonderful. Now I understand why my grandfather and mother were so loving and wonderful. The Netherlands have wonderful people which makes a good and healthy country. I love you Netherlands!

  3. I think it’s a big benefit to have proportional representation elections. It stops you getting locked into a ‘first past the post’ two party system which effectively keeps smaller parties out and can lead to the sort of muddle currently just over the horizon from Scheveninghen – not a good basis for a happy life.

  4. I strongly disagree with this and I think that it’s becoming a toxic environment specially for very skilled and educated workers who come from other first World countries. Indeed here the country is rich compared to southern Europe, but it is becoming really harder and harder to convince a person to pack everything and relocate just to have the feeling of being rich for having more money, while the quality of life is very low and basic needs are considered a luxury. Let me make some examples:
    – Health care. Apparently people here are so greedy to think that being treated for a serious medical condition is a luxury. It’s all about money and in the end even while paying a very expensive health insurance you can’t get the same service that you would get in a much poorer country.
    – Housing. How is somebody supposed to work 8 hours and being productive on sleep deprivation? The housing situation is very bad, people have to throw away half of their salary to stay in a very tiny hole, often with noisy neighbours and noise coming from the streets. When asked to fix anything in the house to make it more liveable, the agency/owner (who is often a speculator) answers that houses in the Netherlands are just like that. Take it or leave. This is literally ultimate level greediness. Why would a mentally sane person work 8 hours on sleep deprivation to give half of their salary to a speculator who doesn’t even fix basic stuff.
    – Insane tourism. Again, this is caused by greediness. Apparently Dutch people don’t care about living in a liveable environment, but it is once again about money. Tourism means that a highly skilled immigrant will have to pay higher prices to stay in more dirty and noisy environments. See, for example if you want to have a car you can forget it because it is too expensive because the parkings are all taken by tourists, and most likely you will travel faster with public transportation.

    In the end the feeling is that you only seem to be more rich but your quality of life is much lower than what you would have in your original country. Let’s say a country like Italy: maybe I would have half of the salary but I would live better. Health care, sleeping 8 hours, eating decently and driving a car aren’t a luxury there. When you are greedy you get nothing.

    • I quite agree with your points but another thing is their insistence when leaving an apartment that you remove all the flooring and curtains – measured specifically for that window or floor. WHAT A GIGANTIC WASTE of good resources! They need to ask the potential renter if they want to keep the stuff with an signed agreement that they will take it over, releasing the previous tenant.

  5. Before you pack and move , think twice, one you need to know things Dutch people know, because they think you must know automatically, two expensive food cost and make sure you documents from at least 2 years of life from banks statements to payslips, three bring a lot of money along , before you become homeless , four they are difficult people and everything is robotic, you don’t reason with people here, because the system is programmed.
    You will regret especially with all debt issues here, you owe somebody when you don’t buy anything, because they have Incasso cost added to every bill monthly before you pay

  6. It is a joke to say childcare here is good and affordable. For 0 to 4 years old the waiting list for childcare is of months and usually people enter the list while they are still pregnant and dont get a spot in daycare until 6 or 8 moths of the baby is born. It costs a lot of money and you only get government reimbursement if both parents are working and it depends on your income ( I pay 2000 eur per month for 4 days a week and get 1000 eur reimbursement, and it still costs 20% of my income ).


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