The cost of living in the Netherlands

Are you thinking of moving abroad for work? The Netherlands can prove to be a good choice for you. People in the Netherlands have a very high standard of living, are among the happiest in the world and there are job opportunities around every corner. While the cost of living in the Netherlands might not be the cheapest, it is possible to live in this charming country without breaking the bank. In this article we’ll give you an idea of the cost of living in the Netherlands.

The cost of living in the Netherlands (literally)

So you have decided to make the move to the Netherlands, that’s great! But now you’re probably asking yourself the question: where am I going to live?

Housing is a large part of the cost of living in the Netherlands for both locals and expats. This is due to the high demand and low supply of quality rental properties. Within the Randstad, the area that incorporates the Netherlands’ four largest cities, prices can be very high. With Amsterdam and The Hague having the highest rent prices, closely followed by utrecht. For example, a one-bedroom apartment to rent in Amsterdam can range from €1,000–€1,900 a month depending on which neighborhood you live in.

Luckily, living in less urbanized areas can be much cheaper and still well-connected by rail and road. The Dutch OV (openbaar vervoer) systems are very well connected which means that you can often commute to work by bus or train. You might even be able to carpool with colleagues. Or if you live close enough to your work you can become a real Dutchie and take the bike!

Average prices

Overall, prices for goods and services in the Netherlands fall above the EU average. Broken down by category, transportation costs and restaurant and hotel prices are well above average, electricity and gas prices are about average, and prices for food, household appliances and consumer electronics are below the EU average. However, prices vary across rural and urban regions. For instance, rural regions often offer cheaper rent and food, but transportation can be more expensive.

Of course when it comes to buying household appliances it’s often a buy once and enjoy for many years kinda purchase. However gas and electricity are a monthly need and cost. They are fairly expensive and can quickly increase your cost of living in the Netherlands.

For example: the average basic cost for utilities for an 85 square meter apartment is around €160 per month. Residents and homeowners also pay extra bills such as sewerage charge (rioolheffing) and waste charges (afvalstoffenheffing) which are determined by the municipality.

Healthcare costs in the Netherlands

The healthcare system in the Netherlands is exceptionally high quality and funded by a compulsory insurance scheme. Both EU and non-EU citizens are required by law to take out a Dutch health insurance once they move to the Netherlands. This includes basic insurance which covers standard medical care procedures as well as ‘Wet Langdurige Zorg’ which covers long-term nursing care.

The cost of a basic health insurance package starts at around €132 per month, in exchange for free or subsidized primary care and the cost of prescription medicines. In many cases, you can receive a healthcare benefit to cover most of this cost. You can also add on to your insurance package and add things such as dentalcare, glasses and contact lenses, physiotherapy, as well as foreign care which will cover your costs if anything happens to you outside of the Netherlands. Of course this will drive up the cost of your insurance significantly.

Leisure costs of living in the Netherlands

While the costs that we have mentioned above are all very important and necessary for when you want to live in the Netherlands. You are also probably wondering about the costs of day to day living in the Netherlands. So let's break that down below shall we?

Cost of childcare in the Netherlands

If you’re moving to the Netherlands with your family you might want to look into the cost of childcare within the Netherlands. Children up to the age of four can be sent to daycare or to a nursery school (kinderopvang). The average fees are around €9 per hour. Usually, this is charged per day or half day depending on your working circumstances.

Another option is to leave your children with a sitter or a host parent. A host parent or ‘gastouder’ is typically someone with young children of their own. They look after other children in their home, which will set you back around €7 per hour plus extra costs for outings and food. In the meantime, your kids will have some buddies to play with. A win-win really!

Cost of food and drink in the Netherlands

Of course we can’t talk about the cost of living in the Netherlands without including some delicious food and drink options. Staple foods are not overly expensive in the Netherlands. General supermarkets such as Albert Heijn or Plus stock a good supply of everyday foods that are typically less expensive than specialist stores. If you are on a tight budget you can head to Aldi or Lidle where you can find good deals for a lot of generic supermarket brands. In general you should budget around €200 - €500 per month for basic grocery shopping depending on the size of your household.

But what about eating out or having drinks with friends? Dining out in the Netherlands is affordable if you stick to the more modest restaurants or chains. A standard evening meal can cost between €15 to €20 per person in a cheap restaurant and up to €40 to €90 per person in a more expensive restaurant. Tips are not included in the bill and are typically up to 10%. Beers are typically sold in half liters and cost €3 - 5, with a glass of house wine costing around €5.

If you’re a coffee addict and like to grab some of this liquid gold on the go you can expect to add a bit more to your daily costs of living in the Netherlands. Prices for coffee vary from place to place. But in general: a cappuccino costs an average of €3.50.

Transportation in the Netherlands

Public transport in the Netherlands is comprehensive, including networks of trains, buses, trams and the metro. In most cities, you can buy a ticket for a few hours or for a day. On average a day ticket will only cost you €8.50. However, the best way to save on costs while living in the Netherlands is to buy a public transport card (OV-chipkaart). This will allow you to travel on all modes of public transport.

Of course the best way to get around most Dutch cities is by bicycle. Even in the major cities you can reach your desired destination within 10 to 40 minutes. Bike prices vary enormously, depending on whether you buy new or second hand. However, keep in mind that rain and the Netherlands go hand in hand. So we can imagine you would like to use some different modes of private transportation as well. Taxi prices in the Netherlands vary considerably. On average, the starting price is €3.50, with €2 added per kilometer. Ubers are often a little less expensive. If you want to buy a car you can expect to pay about €25.000 for a standard car.

Hobbies in the Netherlands

A gym membership will set you back €20 to €50 per month, depending on your gym’s facilities. You can often join group classes as well without buying a membership, this will cost you around €6 - €8 per class. More into team sports? You can often join your local team for a set price per season or year!

Meanwhile, those who are into the big screen can expect to pay €13 to watch an international release at the cinema. Keep in mind that that doesn't include a delicious tub of popcorn. Thrill seekers can indulge themselves in the many theme parks. Entrance will cost you between €30 to €50 per adult.

So that’s all you need to know about the cost of living in the Netherlands. Of course prices may vary depending on where you decide to settle and your day to day needs. But either way, moving to the Netherlands is definitely worth it! Especially if you move from other EU countries that are similar.

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