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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.