Moving to the Netherlands: the pros and cons

Before you move to this gorgeous country, it’s always worth knowing what the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands 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?

1. The Netherlands is small and easy to get around

The Netherlands is a very small country — you can travel from one side to the other in under three hours.

This is great if you want to explore your new home, as there will be no excruciatingly long car journeys, nor any need to board a domestic plane.

Moreover, everything is accessible by train and, provided that you have an OV chipkaart — it’s not too expensive either.

ease-of-check-in-check-out-with-OV-chipcard-at-train-stations-pros-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
Easy and accessible public transportation in the Netherlands, what’s not to love? Image: Depositphotos

The Netherlands is also sandwiched between Belgium and Germany, meaning that if you’re after a cheap travel opportunity or a quick weekend getaway, you really don’t have to go far for it.

It’s in a pretty good location for everything, really.

2. There’s a high quality of education in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a very good quality of education for its residents and foreigners alike.

photo-students-in-front-of-leiden-university-medical-building-pro-of-living-in-Netherlands
Okay, it’s not the prettiest university building in the Netherlands, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Image: Depositphotos

Many people end up leaving school with good grades and go on to land well-payed jobs or attend university.

READ MORE | Hoera! UvA and Utrecht University rank among top 100 scientific universities worldwide

The Netherlands also has high rates of people with post-graduate degrees.

3. The Netherlands is international friendly

If you don’t want to take your child through a regular Dutch school, there are also a lot of choices when it comes to international schools in the Netherlands.

two-international-girls-listening-to-teacher-dutch-school-after-moving-to-the-netherlands
International schools in the Netherlands give you options for your children. Image: Depositphotos

However, having a child in the Dutch education system means that they’ll be fluent in your native language, but also in Dutch and English.

4. Dutchies are some of the best non-native English speakers in the world

The Netherlands actually has the best English proficiency level out of any non-native country, meaning that it’s the perfect place to be if you’re 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.

dutch-woman-speaking-english-to-international-as-pro-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
Dutchies are great at speaking English and will help you! Image: Freepik

There are even services such as utility providers who will specifically offer their services in English, making the transition from home to the Netherlands slightly easier.

In fact, setting up anything from your new mobile phone to your bank account is usually quite stress-free since you won’t have to face a huge language barrier during the process.

READ MORE | Why are the Dutch so good at speaking English?

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.

5. There’s a great cycling culture in the Netherlands

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.

people-cycling-in-amsterdam-using-great-biking-infrastructure-showing-pros-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
Look at all those bikes! Image: Depositphotos

Separate cycle lanes make it the perfect place to rekindle your love of cycling, albeit with a slight fear of getting run over by one of the crazy locals.

READ MORE | Dutch bike culture: How cycling comes first and pedestrians second

Your children can even tag along for the ride too, as 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.

6. You won’t receive any extortionate Dutch healthcare bills

Comparatively, the Dutch healthcare system is pretty good, because it’s 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.

person-seeing-a-dutch-doctor-with-health-insurance-indicating-pros-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
Basic healthcare costs are the same for everyone in the Netherlands. Hoera! Image: Depositphotos

You have the opportunity to opt-in for healthcare ‘add-ons’ so if you want more specialist advice on things such as a dentist, or specialist mental healthcare, then you can pay a bit extra for these.

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to gynaecology, birth control, and check-ups in the Netherlands

Moreover, if you have a low income, the government will give you an allowance, called a zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance), 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.

1. You’ll pay high Dutch 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.

photo-couple-translating-official-letters-and-taxes-at-home-netherlands-indicating-consof-moving-to-the-netherlands
High taxes are a challenge in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

You may also find that electronic items are more expensive in the Netherlands (tip: go on the German Amazon), and some food can be a bit pricey too.

However, once you know how and where to shop, you can get some good deals.

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

2. It’s expensive to own a car in the Netherlands

Having a car in the Netherlands is definitely not a cheap affair. It’s expensive to own a car, and this goes not only for buying it, but also for fuelling it, fixing it, and insuring it.

This comes down to the Dutch government’s strategy of deterring people from driving, but so far that’s not working too well.

photo-two-electric-cars-charging-by-canal-in-alkmaar-netherlands-showing-pros-and-cons-of-moving-in-Netherlands
Oh, and you better practice your parallel parking. Image: Depositphotos

Oh, and there are rules in place to prevent people from just buying a cheaper car in Germany or other neighbouring countries. So bear that in mind if you were thinking of saving some money on a car. 🚗

3. There’s a housing shortage in the Netherlands

We speak about this on a regular basis here at DutchReview, and you’ll see questions about it on a regular basis in international groups on Facebook, and other social media.

READ MORE | 7 underrated places to live outside of the Randstad

Sadly, the housing crisis is a thing to be reckoned with in the Netherlands, and it’s important that you look well in advance for somewhere to live. Remember, there are no guarantees that you’ll find a place straight away but don’t give up hope!

picture-of-amsterdam-building-with-high-prices-as-cons-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
The price of Dutch housing is expensive, especially in Amsterdam. Image: Depositphotos

If you’re looking to live in Amsterdam or other cities in the Randstad, you want to be extra patient in your search for a new home and plan in a little extra wiggle room in your budget.

READ MORE | The student housing nightmare: a tale of discrimination, fraud and protest

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

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

The Dutch service industry is renowned for being less helpful and harder to navigate than in other countries. We’ve very rarely had someone be outright rude, but the Dutch aren’t exactly known for their customer service skills. 😒

people-waiting-for-service-cons-of-moving-to-the-netherlands
Dutch customer service may not be the best, but you might just get to enjoy the sunshine while waiting. Image: Depositphotos

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 response.

Not to mention the amount of aggravation a lot of people have when receiving things like letters and deliveries (if they ever get the physical post, that is).

Be prepared to have to test your patience and skin thickness 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 your move! 🧡

What does your pro and con list look like? Tell us in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2018, and was fully updated in December 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Freepik
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.

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39 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.

    • Netherlands sucks, there is nothing good about the Netherlands. I have been stuck here over 10 years and I hate it. Nothing will ever outweigh anything “good” about the Netherlands

      • Hi Rene
        Can you kindly be more specific? I want to move to Netherlands. I received a good job offer and thinking about moving there. What can I expect? Especially with three children . I’m from South Africa

      • Hi René, I was born in Holland and live in Alberta Canada. Canada has given me a lot of pain and grief. The Easy Coast is better. I like to go home as I have been homesick for years. Hey r u stuck and why?

      • Please Rene, can you be specific? It is really important for our family to understand what you are referring to as we plan to move to the Netherlands

    • Netherlands sucks, there is nothing good about the Netherlands. I have been stuck here over 10 years and I hate it. Nothing will ever outweigh anything “good” about the Netherlands

      • Then leave. This is an amazing place, aside from (evidently) being stuck with whiners that do nothing to improve themselves or their situations.

  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.

  10. Hi
    I am from Nigeria hoping to move to Netherlands with my family, i need advice on the best route to moving and securing a job.

      • Netherlands sucks, there is nothing good about the Netherlands. I have been stuck here over 10 years and I hate it. Nothing will ever outweigh anything “good” about the Netherlands

  11. Comment:I am Sam from Nigeria,I intend coming to NL with my family to pursue my post graduate program. How do I go about it and would I secure a good job even as I study

  12. Hi, I’m an Architect from Nigeria. I intend coming to Netherland to work and further my studies. How favorable is it for Architects in Netherland and do they pay Architects well.

  13. I am Dutchman now living in the US and here are a couple of reasons why I am NOT moving back
    1. The weather. Do not need any further explanation.
    2. The Dutch: They are egocentric, blunt, opiniated and sometimes just plain rude.
    3. Racism: they still have Zwarte Piet.

  14. I am a widow and want to move back, because I am homesick after my last visit in September. I feel lonely, and it’s my husband’s last resting place!
    Most of the cons I agree with, but a bit surprised about the change in service, they were better when lived there.

  15. O well… lived most part of my life in the Netherlands and live now in Germany… I find Germany better in healthcare, payment and, I am not kidding… paperwork! The Dutch are so sloooooow when it comes to paperwork! They really suck. Had to file a paper because of my student loan, took half a year. Civil servants in the Netherlands suck big time!

  16. I have been wanting to move to Netherlands for a while now , and getting a job there is not so easy , I have been trying on LinkedIn if anyone knows of companies in Netherlands that are hiring foreigners please let me know! I also want to know can one get a visa without a job offer!

  17. Was considering NL but am happy I’ve chosen instead Germany. Salary is bigger, taxes are lower, goods are cheaper, weather and nature in southern part is just incredible comparable to NL.
    Had to learn german though. But it was worth to do it in the end…

  18. If people criticise NL they should spend a short while in the U.K. then you will know what ineptitude and bad service is. The weather is the same also in much of Northern Europe so no pluses there. I would take the Netherlands any day over Britain (especially since the farce of Brexit).

  19. I see people say, “there is note good about the Netherlands”. Would you please be more specific. Type it out. As we’re considering to come to NL and want to know of were making the right choice.

  20. as with almost ANY re-location, it takes TIME .. sometimes lots of time. I am very happy living in Amsterdam. That doesn’t mean you love everything about it! When talking weather, people forget that we have actually benefited from the climate change. We now have pretty glorious weather almost 6 months a year!! In the winter, it gets dark early … and you learn to enjoy the cozyness of indoors. I love that it’s so ‘live and let live.’ They definitely have a better work/life balance, and i find it much cheaper to eat!! You find your friends, build your circle …. a warm cafe is always near. The most annoying thing can be .. after you break your kneck to learn the language (i believe you should), a lot of dutches will hear your accent, and immediately switch to English. I actually get pleasure out of answering (in fairly good Dutch) that they can speak Dutch to me! I’ve been here many many years and my children were born here. It suits me perfectly!!

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