- Download our Moving to the Netherlands Guide (PDF)
Prospective expats will have to consider the relatively high cost of living in the Netherlands, particularly in the capital. In the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Amsterdam was ranked as the world's 28th most expensive city for expats out of the 227 cities surveyed, in the same bracket as Vienna and Paris. While other major Dutch cities such as Rotterdam and The Hague are by no means cheap, they do have a lower cost of living than Amsterdam.
Cost of accommodation in the Netherlands
Finding suitable accommodation is often a difficult process, and the Netherlands is no exception. This is especially the case in large cities, which tend to be on the expensive side. It's much cheaper to live in smaller rural towns. If expats do decide on city living but have a limited budget, it's best to search for accommodation in the outlying suburbs rather than city centres.
Buying a house in the Netherlands is complicated and is probably done best with an intermediary who can communicate in the expat's home language as well as Dutch. Once the house is bought, the buyer has to get house insurance and will also be responsible for sewerage, refuse and annual housing taxes. Renting a house exempts tenants from these costs as these will be the owner's responsibility, but utilities are still frequently an additional expense on top of rent.
Cost of transport in the Netherlands
Public transport in the Netherlands is relatively cheap by European standards. Most of the country's public transport systems work with a chip card that can be used on trains, trams, metros and buses. Taxis are expensive, but there is a service called the deeltaxi – a shared taxi service that's cheaper than a regular taxi.
Although this option is much more cost-effective, they usually make several stops along the journey, which can be inconvenient. Numerous ride-hailing services operate in the Netherlands, which are ordered through user-friendly apps and are also slightly cheaper than regular taxis.
Cost of groceries in the Netherlands
The price of groceries in the Netherlands is quite reasonable compared to other Western European countries. Supermarkets stock a range of products from budget to high-end, offering opportunities for expats to manage their grocery expenses according to their budget.
Local markets also sell fresh produce, often sourced directly from Dutch farmers, which can be more affordable. Furthermore, buying seasonal and local goods regularly proves to be cheaper. Imported items and speciality foodstuffs can be pretty pricey.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in the Netherlands
Like most European countries, the cost of entertainment and dining out in the Netherlands varies greatly depending on the location and the establishment. Dining in high-end restaurants, particularly in major cities like Amsterdam, can be costly. That said, there are many mid-range and budget-friendly eateries offering a variety of cuisines that can cater to those with a tighter budget.
The cost of cinema tickets, theatre performances and other forms of entertainment is in line with other Western European nations, with discounts often available for students and seniors. In terms of nightlife, prices can be high, especially in Amsterdam, with drinks and club entrance fees reflecting this.
Cost of education in the Netherlands
Tuition at local schools is free apart from a voluntary contribution. Teaching is usually in Dutch, but a few government-subsidised public schools offer international curricula, with teaching being either bilingual or in English. Some public schools also have the option of a bridging year to allow non-Dutch-speaking children time to pick up the language and adapt before moving into mainstream Dutch schooling.
Private international schools are typically the preferred option for families who won't be staying in the Netherlands for the long term. Still, fees can be high and frequently don't include extras such as school uniforms, textbooks, bus service and canteen lunches.
Cost of healthcare in the Netherlands
Healthcare in the Netherlands is of high quality, but it is not free. All residents are required by law to have at least basic health insurance, which covers common medical care such as visits to the doctor or hospital. Furthermore, there is an obligatory annual excess, or eigen risico. This means that individuals pay the first eigen risico of their healthcare costs out of pocket each year, with insurance covering the rest.
Certain services, such as GP consultations and maternity care, are exempt from the excess. Additionally, dental care for adults is not covered under basic health insurance and requires an additional package. Prescription drugs are typically covered, but can sometimes involve a small personal contribution.
Cost of living in the Netherlands chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Amsterdam in December 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
What do expats say about living costs in the Netherlands?
"Dining out in the Netherlands is expensive, so I have to cook. Apparently, I am not a good cook. I continue to struggle with this." Read about how expat Lisa deals with the cost of living in the Netherlands.
"Housing can be expensive; depending on where you live you can end up with a relatively high rent or a high mortgage for what feels like little living space." Read more about living expenses in our interview with Amanda.
►For more on managing finances, see Banking, Money and Taxes in the Netherlands
Are you an expat living in The Netherlands?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The Netherlands. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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