Relocating to the Netherlands: Pros and Cons

Jacquelyn Vadnais
Last Edited Feb 27, 2023

Dubbed the Gateway to Europe, the Netherlands boasts a picturesque setting and is a welcome haven for expats who want to settle in the continent.

Even if you have planned everything you can think of, relocating to a new country can still be overwhelming. And it’s not just the shifting you need to think about but also your ability to thrive, adjust, and settle in the new country.

The Netherlands has increasingly become a top choice for foreigners wanting to relocate and live in Europe, and it’s no wonder—this country is too good to be true. Sure, there are some drawbacks, but once you experience what the country offers, you will be glad you made the big move.

Still, learn about the possible perks, compromises, and challenges of living in the Netherlands. Then ask yourself if you are up to it!

Advantages Of Relocating To The Netherlands

1. Low Crime Rate

The Netherlands is ranked 16th among the safest countries in the world, and its crime rate is very low compared to its European neighbors. Many speculate that the Netherlands’ lower rate of poverty, drug policy implementation, and the justice system’s preference for rehabilitation over incarceration contributes to the peace and safety of the country.

Netherlands Crime Rate & Statistics – Historical Data
YearPer 100K PopulationAnnual % Change

Source: Netherlands Crime Rate & Statistics 1990-2023 | MacroTrends

Additionally, the Dutch have high regard for their rules, and everyone adheres to the local regulations. The Dutch people respect and uphold the laws because they understand that they are in place for the good of all, which helps maintain the order of the country.

2. High English Proficiency

You will never need to worry about communication barriers in the Netherlands because everybody speaks English. Of course, you need to make it a personal goal to learn Dutch, especially if you intend to settle in the Netherlands. However, communication won’t be a problem during your initial few months.

English is used to label groceries, on the bus, and even in the workplace. The locals are thoughtful, and if they see you struggling to understand and speak in Dutch, they automatically switch to English.

Even so, it is best that you learn some basic Dutch words and phrases once you have decided to relocate to the Netherlands—even if it is still months away. And take the opportunity to converse in Dutch as much as you can. The locals will appreciate your effort and be willing to teach you some language tricks.

3. Large Expat Community

The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and home to a large community of foreign nationals who have settled in the country. Most foreigners tend to settle here as 131 international organizations are based here, and they can find employment easily.

The Netherlands is also the melting pot of Europeans and people of all other races. Many find the Netherlands the ideal space to discover their individuality, build their family, and develop their career.

Expect the large expat community to be your support system when you transition to the Netherlands.

4. Job Opportunities

The Netherlands offers foreigners plenty of work opportunities, as numerous international corporations have their headquarters here. Finding a job will be a breeze for those who speak English well and are comfortable interacting with a global clientele.

Although many jobs demand fluency in English, some employers are more comfortable hiring employees fluent in both Dutch and English.

5. Proximity To Other European Cities

Traveling to Europe is easier if your starting point is the Netherlands. Given that the country is small, traveling from one European city to another is very convenient and easy.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, or Schiphol, is your central hub for flying in and out of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is ideally situated between Belgium and Germany, and traveling to France and Luxembourg by car only takes a few hours. So, you can expand your touring playground anytime, get out of the Netherlands, and be in another European country in a matter of hours.

6. Accepting And Welcoming Mentality

The inspiring sense of balance that permeates Dutch communities is one of the country’s most striking characteristics. All people are welcome, regardless of their cultural and racial backgrounds.

There’s no regard for social hierarchy, and by the end of the day, it is common for people of opposite financial backgrounds and ethnicities to come together and socialize in a single venue.

The “live and let live” philosophy is ideal for expats and young foreigners, who frequently seek out environments where everyone is regarded as an integral part of the community.

Disadvantages Of Relocating To The Netherlands

1. High-Income Tax

The Netherlands is among the top 15 countries with the highest tax rates, where both regular income and capital gains are taxed. These financial dues are charged at a fixed rate of 26.9% as of 2021.

All income earned by residents of the country is taxed. Non-residents of the Netherlands are only taxed on some sources of income. This includes their income from employment, business, and a Dutch immovable property, among others.

2. Relatively High Cost Of Living

Even if you earn in US dollars or euros, you will still consider living in this country quite expensive.

Managing your expenses is a real challenge. If you just relocated here, you’ll need to be extra careful in your first quarter or until you get more confident about juggling and setting aside your budget for communication, food, health insurance, and utilities.

You’ll need to stick to your budget, as unaccounted expenses can cause a ripple effect in the following months.

Don’t be surprised if locals are non-impulsive shoppers because every penny counts for them, too.

3. Social Etiquette Norms

Expats and visiting foreigners might be taken aback by the social norms and business etiquette of the locals. The Dutch directness can sometimes be off-putting, offend people, and even cause them discomfort.

The Dutch don’t hold back their opinions on anything—whether it’s your appearance, behavior, or opinions. Even topics that are somewhat taboo in other countries are discussed freely in the Netherlands.

Although this may seem like a disadvantage, in the long run, it contributes to the strength of the community, where misunderstandings are quickly resolved, and no assumptions or personal conclusions are made.

Their lack of spontaneity is another characteristic Dutch trait. There’s no such thing as an impulsive coffee date or a quick visit to a friend’s house because everything needs to be scheduled weeks in advance. So, meeting up with a friend for lunch would require you to check at least three weeks in advance.

4. Learning Dutch Is Difficult

No language is easy, but the local Dutch language can be especially difficult to learn.

And it’s not just because the Dutch have one of the most complicated grammatical rules; even remembering “de” and “het” can be difficult.

About 93% of Dutch people can seamlessly switch to English, so you may not familiarize yourself with the local language. Even after years in the Netherlands, most expats don’t become fluent in Dutch.

5. Lack Of Housing

Rent is costly in the Netherlands mainly due to the country-wide housing shortage. Every year, the country needs 100,000 new properties to meet its yearly need of 250,000 homes.

This housing situation makes it difficult to get property of your own. Even retirees have difficulty purchasing budget-friendly retirement homes. This is one of the biggest problems for expats because it can take months to find a suitable home.

Concluding Remarks on the Subject 

Relocating to the Netherlands absolutely has its appeal to expats. Be sure that you are contemplating the prospective benefits of relocating to the Netherlands weighed with the detriments as well. This way, you will have a realistic picture as to whether you can make the requisite salary that is necessary in order to do well in the Netherlands. If the position that you are considering has the level of salary necessary to live well in the Netherlands, there are a wealth of wonderful schools and programs to engage your family in. Additionally, there is a very large and diverse expat population to arrange local events. When deciding where to reside around the globe, absolutely pay attention to the Netherlands. In doing so, you will be able to find a safe, diverse, yet cultured locale to call home that is a short distance away from the majority of continental Europe.


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