So you’ve decided! You’re going to move to Leiden! Congrats! It’s a beautiful Dutch town, and living in Leiden will be a life-changing experience!
But now that you’ve decided on moving to Leiden there are some choices to be made. Where to live? How to get a job? What to do? 🤯
This article will help you get on your feet if you’ve just made the move to Leiden or planning on it — and heck might even help you with stuff if you’re already living in Leiden for years on end.
Need more info and help on Leiden? Or just a bit of a personal touch?
Then the excellent Leiden Expat Centre will be more than happy to help you out; they have way more handy information about making a move to Leiden and are located right in front of the Leiden Station if you need them (Stationsweg 26).
They’re in the same building as the Tourist Information Center of Leiden, so that’s double handy.
1. Decided you want to make the move to Leiden? Check where you want to live in Leiden.
Leiden is a very beautiful and historic town that is filled with authentic Dutch buildings. That’s probably why you actually want to live there!
This is also why living in the city centre of Leiden can be a bit more costly, due to the historical and sentimental values of the houses situated there.
Plus, it’s small, and there’s a high demand from students.
Living in the Leiden city centre
Everything in between the old canals of Leiden is considered the old heart and center of Leiden. You’ll get the classic Leiden vibe at its best there, and with the city being really compact you can always walk or bike to almost anything.
But the city centre is also a bit on the pricey side when it comes to renting or buying a house, and all the events and students there make it a buzzing scene — but also a bit too busy for some.
If you venture a little further, you can find multiple neighbourhoods that are just as lovely. For instance, the neighbourhoods of De Merenwijk and Stevenshof are just a few minutes cycling away from the city center.
These two areas are good for families, as they are fully equipped with schools, playgrounds, and shops. The houses in these neighbourhoods were built between the 1970s and 1980s and carry the true spirit of traditional Dutch suburbs.
Even fancier and closer to the centre of Leiden are neighbourhoods like the Tuinstadwijk, de Lage Mors and the Professorenwijk.
These Leiden neighbourhoods have some classy 1930s houses and are very popular among both Dutch and expat families. (There are quite a few other neighbourhoods as well, we left some out — feel totally welcome to ask about these in the comments!)
Another great option is living in Leiden’s neighbouring municipalities. Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, Warmond, Oegstgeest, and Katwijk are popular with families and often offer a better space-to-price ratio.
Oegstgeest would be the most popular option as it is right next to Leiden and generally offers more spacious housing options as well as classic Dutch-style houses. The neighbourhood is also generally safe, clean, and family-friendly. However, the prices can be pretty steep.
Katwijk (AKA Katwijk aan Zee) has more of an independent character to it. A former fishing village, Katwijk is ideal for someone who doesn’t want to live in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and wants the beach to be just a short bike ride away.
However, the cost of housing isn’t that friendly here, and there’s limited availability. A lot of the accommodations here are only available temporarily for holiday-goers.
If you just want to visit Katwijk, that’s an easy 30-minute bus ride or 30-40 minute cycle from the Leiden city centre. 🚲
As with so many Dutch regions, Leiden and its neighbouring municipalities are all conveniently within biking distance of each other with lovely bicycle paths to boot.
So now you know a bit more about potential living spots in or around Leiden. Time to properly settle yourself and register with the municipality of your new home.
2. Have a ton of legal questions after your move to Leiden? Walk in at the Expat Centre in Leiden for help
Moving to a new town can be quite stressful and confusing, especially if you’re new to the country as well. Thankfully, Leiden has an excellent Expat Centre which can help you with any questions of any sort you may have.
Located in the city center, the Expat Centre has partnered up with the Tourist Information Center and is just minutes away from Leiden Central Station.
The employees of the Expat Centre in Leiden will help you with the most essential aspects of moving to a new town.
Moreover, the ECL provides useful information about essentials of living in the Netherlands: get a bank account, finding a school, applying for a BSN number (think of it as a Dutch social security number), signing up with a doctor, and dealing with taxes.
The Expat Centre will happily help you with answers to all your questions about life in Leiden. And if you want to gain some general knowledge about Leiden and life in the Netherlands, the Expat Centre in Leiden also offers an excellent digital booklet for your convenience.
The good people of the Expat Centre Leiden are there for you every Monday and Wednesday from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Tourist Information Centre (also known as the VVV). The centre is conveniently by the Leiden Central station at Stationsweg 26.
3. Want to work while living in Leiden? Where to look for a job in Leiden
When it comes to finding a job in Leiden, there are multiple sectors that are considerably developed in this charming Dutch town.
Leiden is famous for being a university town, its biggest and most popular one being, of course, Leiden University. This famous university was attended by historical figures such as Rembrandt and Einstein, as well as multiple members of the Dutch royal family.
Currently, the university has a large international staff spread across seven faculties. Due to Leiden University’s ever-growing popularity among students, this institution of higher education is constantly in search of new people to hire.
Leiden Bio Science Park
Another place in Leiden where a unique job opportunity may arise is the Bio Science Park.
It is the largest bioscience facility in the whole of the Netherlands, with a staggering number of 18 000 employees. It is Holland’s best life science research centre, which focuses on both education and business.
Leiden’s Bio Science Park offers a range of interesting jobs and is constantly looking for new great minds to join the team. So if you want to work, while simultaneously conducting crucial research, the Bio Science Park in Leiden may have some great job opportunity for you.
Creative and start-up scene in Leiden
More on the creative side of life? Leiden has more than its fair share of creative companies and promising start-ups.
Want some examples? Think about the exciting start-up venue of PLNT where Leiden fosters dozens of young creative and innovative companies, or the media-imperium of DutchReview, which is also located in Leiden (hey wait, that’s us 😉 ).
Getting even more personal, but if you need a web wizard, then we at DutchReview always called Nick from Get Big Webdesign if we were in need of a digital fix! 🔥
For some more examples of sectors to work in Leiden, you might want to check out Economie071!
Work at shops and restaurants in Leiden
Aside from a very impressive educational and creative scene, Leiden is also booming with life.
That is why this rather small town has so many different types of shops and restaurants. While finding a job in customer service in Leiden may be hard if you do not speak Dutch, it is still worth the shot.
After all, Leiden is a university town full of students from all over the world. This means that the town is becoming more open to English speaker in customer service, and businesses are looking for student workers.
Let’s also not forget that Leiden is geographically located in a very convenient place. Big cities like Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht are within a 30-minute train ride.
So if you’re having a hard time finding a job within Leiden, you can always look in the nearby cities.
4. The one thing that makes living in Leiden totally worth it? Enjoying the pretty sights in Leiden!
Leiden is a very picturesque town! There is a whole lot of Instagram material to prove that! Filled with beautiful canals, charming cafes and restaurants, an exciting street market, and breathtaking views. Leiden is truly like a fairy tale.
There is also so much to do in your free time. Leiden is home to a variety of museums, such as the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the National Museum of Ethnology, and the wonderful Museum of Antiquities.
Leiden is also home to the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, the Hortus Botanicus, dating all the way back to 1590. For all the science lovers out there, there is also an observatory in Leiden which is open to the public.
Established by Leiden University in 1633, Leiden’s observatory is the oldest operating university observatory in the world.
Also, while walking through Leiden you can’t help but notice De Burcht. This 11th-century fort is perfect for walks and some pretty amazing photos. People even have their weddings here, and there’s a cute café at the entrance. 💖
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, there is also the Leidse Hout, a marvellous park is located on the border of Leiden and Oegstgeest. It’s so big, that it is pretty much like a forest, so it allows for a perfect escape from the city. 🌳
Or, if you want to explore Leiden itself, you can always go on an expedition to find all the poems written on Leiden’s buildings.
Yes, that’s right! Poems!
The “Poems and Walls” project began in 1992, and today there are over 100 poems written in their original language scattered all around Leiden. And if by any chance you want to see the most popular ones, we have just the right event for you!
5. Haven’t decided to make the move to Leiden? At least come and enjoy these great events in Leiden
Another reason to decide to move to Leiden are the multiple exciting and fun events held throughout the year. Here are just a few of them to give you a taste of what life in Leiden has to offer.
Guided Tour of The Wall Poems of Leiden
Leiden will be offering a guided tour of the wall poems of Leiden.
The entire tour takes about two to three hours. During the walk, you will get to see about 25 of the 101 wall poems of Leiden. As an added bonus will also get to marvel at the beauty of Leiden itself, and all the charming bars and restaurants. It’s also a great way for snapping a ton of Instagram material. 📸
When a building knows the truth, but humanity doesn’t ? #FUNFACT ! Leiden has 101 poems written on various buildings around town✒#universaldeclarationofhumanrights #messageoflove #poem #poetry #humanrights #act1 #architecture #throwback #leiden #thenetherlands #holland #amen #preach #exploring #exploringeurope #europe #livingineurope #aroundeurope #rainydays #gloomy #equality #compassion #love #smalltowncharm #loveandpeace #equalityforall
Leidens Ontzet, also known as the Relief of Leiden, takes place every year on October 3 and is a massive city-wide party!
It’s a time when students, working professionals, and native Leideners come together to engage in a night of carnival rides, herring, dancing, and (obviously) tons of drinking. 🍻
National Museum of Antiquities
The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) regularly has exciting and interesting exhibitions of the latest archaeological discoveries. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions, so find one that you like and book a ticket!
So there you have it! Whether you’ve decided you want to move to Leiden or are already living there, these tips will help you during your stay. 🤗
Can you think of any other reasons why living in Leiden is a great idea? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was originally written in August 2018 and was fully updated in September 2022 for your reading pleasure.