The Pros and Cons of Moving to The Netherlands
The Netherlands offers expats a high quality of life, with a low crime rate and friendly locals. However, as with any foreign country, it also has its own rules, regulations, and processes, which can be difficult for expats to get used to.
If you’re considering moving to the Netherlands, read on to find out some pros and cons of living there as an expat.
Pros of moving to the Netherlands
Great work-life balance
The Netherlands is known for promoting a healthy work-life balance. Research shows only around 0.3% of employees work long hours, much lower than the international average of 10%. The same study showed that full-time workers in the Netherlands dedicate over 60% of their day to personal care and leisure time.
Typically, Dutch people keep clear boundaries between their work and personal life, working hard during their contracted hours and then switching off from work when the working day is over.
Inclusive and welcoming culture
In general, the Dutch are welcoming to foreigners and make an effort to engage newcomers into the community. They are known for their egalitarianism and are a fairly liberal society.
Expats moving to the Netherlands will have plenty of opportunity to meet people in the Netherlands. It is a place known for having a vibrant social life, including a summer café culture as well as festivals and cultural events throughout the year.
Many people speak English
The Dutch have the best English proficiency for non-native speakers in the world, so English-speaking expats should be able to get along fine while they pick up the language. Many service providers, like mobile phone companies and banks, can also offer their services in English, which can be a huge help when you’re first settling in and setting up.
The downside to this is that there isn’t an urgency to learn the language. However, as with moving to any country, it is always beneficial to learn as much of the language as you can. The locals will appreciate it and it means you’ll be covered if you find yourself in a situation where English isn’t spoken.
High quality education
The Netherlands has a high standard of education in both public and private schools. Over 80% of adults in the Netherlands have completed secondary school and around a third have a university degree, which are both higher than the international average.
The Dutch curriculum is designed to support students in planning for the future and achieving their career goals. Some schools also offer additional support to children joining from abroad, such as providing immersion classes. These are smaller classes ran by specialist teachers designed to help children pick up the language while they learn the curriculum.
Easy to get around
The Netherlands is a relatively small country, so it’s easy to get around. The Dutch have a great public transport system, which includes trains, trams, buses, and metros.
There is also a huge cycling culture and many locals will travel around their local area by bicycle. There is often a good cycling network around towns and cities, with separate cycle lanes.
Cons of moving to the Netherlands
Healthcare in the Netherlands is usually of good quality and efficient. However, everyone living in the Netherlands must take out health insurance to cover the costs of basic care like seeing a GP or prescription medication. Everyone has to pay for their medical care up to a fixed cost, and the fees can be expensive.
Health insurance in the Netherlands is costly and might not include everything that expats are used to. For example, local anesthetic often costs extra. The alternative is to take out comprehensive international health insurance. Private healthcare from Expatriate Group will ensure you and your family are fully covered while you’re in the Netherlands.
In general, the Netherlands has a high tax rate, with high social security and income tax. There is a tax incentive for some foreign workers which allows them to earn 30% tax-free income – however, this will only apply to those in specific roles or who have specific skills.
For others, an individual worker will pay 36.1% tax and a couple with two children will pay 29.1% tax.
Shortage of housing
Finding accommodation in the Netherlands can be tricky. The country is experiencing a housing crisis, with a shortage of accommodation available for either locals or expats.
Both renting and buying property will be costly. Some apartments are offered as a “shell” and come with lower rent, but tenants will need to buy everything to furnish the home, including carpets and appliances.
High cost of living
The Netherlands has a high cost of living, which includes everything from accommodation, groceries, and services. On average, the cost of living in the Netherlands is 10.7% higher than in the UK.
Owning a car is particularly expensive, with high road tax and expensive repair costs. Whilst the public transport system is efficient, ticket prices are also costly.
The Dutch have slightly different social customs and rules that can take some getting used to for expats. For example, Dutch locals can be quite direct, which is often misunderstood as rudeness.
It’s expected that people are punctual at meetings and if someone is running late, they will need to let the necessary people know, even if they are only five minutes behind. It’s very uncommon for people to visit other people’s houses unannounced.
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