Before you move to any country, it’s always worth knowing what the pros and cons of moving there are. This way you can work out if the place is really for you. After all, nowhere is perfect.

So, before you move to this beautiful flat land of tulips and windmills, what are the pros and cons of moving to the Netherlands?

The pros of moving to the Netherlands

Let’s start on a positive note, what can you look forward to if you decide to move to the Netherlands?

Small and easy to get around

The Netherlands is a very small country and you can travel from one side to the other in under three hours. This makes it great if you want to travel anywhere as there will be no excruciatingly long car journeys or the need to catch a flight.

Catching the train means that everywhere is accessible and providing you have a train subscription, it’s not too expensive either.

The Netherlands is also sandwiched between Belgium and Germany, meaning that if you’re after a cheap travel opportunity, then you really don’t have to go far for it. It’s in a pretty good location for everything really. Out of all of the biggest pros and cons of living in the Netherlands, this is definitely the biggest pro for me personally.

pros and cons of moving to the netherlands
The quintessential Dutch landscape. Image: Gouwenaar/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

Good quality of education

The Netherlands has a very good quality of education for its residents. Many people end up leaving school with good grades, land into jobs or go to university. The Netherlands also has high rates of people with post-graduate degrees.

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Good for internationals

There is also a lot of choices when it comes to international schools, if you are not wanting to place your child through a regular Dutch school. Having a child in the Dutch education system means that not only will they be fluent in your language, but also Dutch and English.

Excellent levels of English

The Netherlands actually has the best English out of any non-native country, meaning that it’s the perfect place to be if you’re English (or speak English) and are looking to get away from your homeland. Most people can at least speak conversational English, so if you find yourself in a sticky situation, there will always be someone to help.

This can also be a bit of a downside however, as you have to work twice as hard to learn Dutch. If you practice, you’ll find that people will tend to switch to English because it’s much easier to communicate.

Cycling culture

The Netherlands is known for its cycling culture. Come rain or shine, its residents will be out on their bicycles. Not only is it healthy and free, but it’s part of the daily commute here. Separate cycle lanes literally everywhere make it the perfect place to rekindle your love of cycling, without that constant fear of being run over.

Your children can even tag along for the ride too. Many children here in the Netherlands can cycle as well as they can walk. In short, if you move to the Netherlands, expect the whole family to be on their bikes.

pros and cons of moving to the netherlands
The preferred method of transporting your children in the Netherlands. Image: Workcycles/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

No extortionate healthcare bills

Okay, so to some healthcare here can be a bit pricey. Comparatively, it’s pretty good because the system is designed so that you don’t become bankrupt if you have a lot of health issues. Everybody pays the same for their basic healthcare, no matter how ill or healthy you are, making it a fairer process overall.

You have the opportunity for healthcare ‘add-ons’, if you want more specialist advice on things such as a dentist, specialist mental healthcare or pregnancy, then you can pay a bit extra for these. If you are on a low income, the government will give you an allowance towards your healthcare, called a zorgtoeslag, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to pay for your healthcare.

The cons of moving to the Netherlands

Let’s keep things real and talk about some of the difficulties you may run into should you move to the Netherlands.

High taxes

The Netherlands is known for its notoriously high tax rates on basically everything. Income tax is especially high in comparison to other places in Europe and it’s also expensive to own a car. You may find that electronic items are more expensive in the Netherlands (tip: go on the German Amazon) and some food can be a little bit pricey too. However, once you know how and where to shop, then you can get some good deals.

The price of rent is generally quite high around the whole country, but this is due to supply and demand. Jobs, in general, pay pretty well here, so it’s all relative in the end.

Expensive to own a car (if you need one)

Having a car in the Netherlands is definitely an investment. It’s expensive to own a car and this goes for buying it, fuelling it, fixing it and insuring it. This is mainly to put people off actually having a car, but so far that’s not working too well, with more people than ever having a car (that includes me too).

There are rules in place to prevent people just buying a car in Germany or other neighbouring countries and then bringing it over as it’s cheaper. So bear that in mind if you were thinking to saving some money on a car.

pros and cons of moving to the netherlands
Tiny, but still expensive. Image: Paulina101/Pixabay

Hard to find a place to rent — housing shortages

We speak about this on a regular basis here at DutchReview and you’ll see questions about it on a regular basis on expat groups. Finding a place to live is really difficult as so many people are here doing the exact same thing. It’s important that you look well in advance for housing and even then, there are no guarantees that you’ll find a place straight away. If you’re looking to stay in the capital too, it isn’t cheap and easy.

This also goes for students. Even if you are offered an unconditional place on a university course, if you don’t sort the accommodation straight away, you could find yourself sleeping in a tent or having to defer your course for a year (true story — this actually happens).

pros and cons of moving to the netherlands
Housing is in no great supply. Image: Abbie Neale/Supplied

The service industry may not be what you’re used to

This is also something else that both readers and writers at DutchReview talk about. The service industry is renowned for being less helpful and harder to navigate. I’ve very rarely outright had someone incredibly rude to me (maybe once or twice), so I can’t speak for that, but I’ve found it harder than ever since living here to get hold to someone to talk to if there’s an issue.

You’re either waiting forever to talk to the manager, in a queue of 25 people on the phone or waiting weeks for an email back. Not to mention the amount of aggravation a lot of people have when receiving things like post (if they ever get the post that is). Be prepared to have to test your patience head-on, because you’re going to need it.

So here are just a few pros and cons of moving to the Netherlands. No place is perfect, so find out for yourself what living here can do for you! Good luck with yo’ move!

What do you think the pros and cons of moving to the Netherlands are? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: djedj/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2018, and was fully updated in November 2020, for your reading pleasure.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Good for internationals, right up until the Dutch government withdraws it’s promised tax benefit 3 (or more) years early #adealisadeal

  2. Thx, I am trying to expand my small retail business into the Netherlands. Having spent a lot of time in the country in last 5 years. You have hit the nail on the head. Especially with the service, rental and car points.

  3. Thank You for this!
    as far as i’m concerned and all the research I’ve done, the pro’s definitely outweigh the cons here.
    I cannot wait to start my journey in the Netherlands! HUP HUP!!

  4. I would love to move to the Netherlands as 2 of my kids already stay there and also want my 2 other join up. But as from South Africa and white and speaking afrikaans near to Dutch we find it very difficult to get permits to.move over as well as finding a proper job. Anyone who can assist?

  5. You forgot the most important thing, the weather. People don’t thing about the weather but this is the hardest part of living in Netherlands and your best friend in Netherlands is going to be the umbrella wind and grey sky during th all year. Think about that.

  6. Hi Helene,
    I am also a white South African, currently living in Stellenbosch.

    I have lived in Netherlands for 2 years, then decided to move back to SA.
    I’ve now been in SA for 6 months and already negotiating my way back to NL. I thought South Africa changed and also in my friend circle, but that is not the case.

    Its easier for me to move back, because I still work for the Dutch company but just based in Stellies.
    I have my call today with the director again and they are eager to move me back, so I think I will be back before December 2019.

    Have you had any luck as yet? Will you be working in NL? If so, it’s easier to find jobs on LinkedIn.
    Dutch are well organised with advertising jobs on there.

  7. Pro: yes, the healthcare is not expensive, that is very nice.
    Con: you have to be “half dead” to be picked up by the ambulance… health care in general works this way. For every illness it seems to be just Paracetamol. Don’t even ask where they measure child’s temperature 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. Hi Helene,

    Have you managed to get your permits? if so how long did it take you? Did you manage to find a job in Netherlands?how difficult was it for you to find a job?

    I’m from South African as well,looking to move over as well.

  9. Thank you for this article. My parents and older sister are insistent on moving to Amsterdam if our current president wins another four years and I’m a little hesitant to move to another country. I’m very hesitant as I cannot ride a bike, I have so many credits to transfer from my community college… I just don’t think it’s worth it to move because of an election going awry.

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