The Netherlands attracts a large number of expatriates coming to work in the many diplomatic institutions and global companies around the country. Similarly, students also flock to the Netherlands for world-class universities and the relaxed lifestyle the country offers. The Dutch people are the most liberal, friendly, beer-loving, and tallest people in the world. Therefore, if you plan on relocating to the Netherlands, you can take comfort in the fact that you’ll be welcomed into a vibrant and mixed community of foreigners and locals. But before moving to another country, it’s good to determine whether you can afford to live in it. This means having a clear understanding of the destination’s economy.
So, what are the living costs in the Netherlands? The Netherlands certainly isn’t the cheapest country in Europe. It’s the 16th most expensive country to live in according to Numbeo’s cost of living index by country 2019. Expats should expect to spend from as low as €800/month to over €3000/month, depending on the where they live, family size, and lifestyle.
But don’t let this scare you from relocating to this beautiful country. Even with high living costs, you can rest assured that the quality of life is exceptionally good. Just so you know the Dutch economy is 6th in the European Union. It’s also a number 7 on the global quality of life index, with high employment rates, a healthy work-life balance, high levels of life satisfaction, a very good healthcare system, public safety, excellent transport system, and much more. The country offers something for everyone, including families, singles, and students. This guide will break down the different living costs, especially in the most popular Dutch cities, to offer a wider perspective on the cost of living in the Netherlands. Read on for more information!
Monthly Cost of Living in the Netherlands for a Family
The Netherlands is one of the best places in the world to raise a family. The cities are not as massive and fast-paced as London and Madrid but still offer a multicultural environment with a bigger international community. Do you plan on moving your family to the Netherlands from abroad? Well, the much you’ll need to raise a family here is pretty subjective and hugely dependent on your lifestyle. With that said, I’ve outlined the estimated costs of living for two different kinds of households as a guide:
|Living Expenses||Two-person Household||Four-person household|
|Basic Health Cover||226€||226€|
In addition to the above general costs, families also need to factor in the following costs:
The cost of childcare
The cost of childcare averages around €750/month in a daycare/nursery school, and you can receive a discount for a second child. After-school care can also be provided for school going kids for about €650-800/month. Alternatively, parents can leave their kids with a childminder, who generally charges €6–12/hour. A less expensive option would be to seek the services of an au pair. Au pairs receive a minimum of €325/month for working 30 hours/week.
If your child goes to a childcare center, you may be entitled to the childcare benefit.
The cost of education
The education of a child is usually a primary concern when moving with a family to a new country. Other than the type of education and curriculum, the costs may also vary significantly. The cost of education here is similar to other EU countries, as well as the US. The exact costs will, obviously, depend on the school of choice. The country has international schools that offer a wide range of educational programs in English. Tuition fees in these schools range between €5,000 and 16,000/year. You also have the option of a Dutch school, which is free. But the language of instruction would be Dutch, and the integration into the Dutch community would also be the main focus. There are also some government-subsidized public schools that offer international curricula.
The cheapest way for families to travel is by using public transport, which I’ll cover in-depth later on. Although the infrastructure in this country makes it possible to live without a car, having one can certainly make life easier for families. In that case, a liter of gas costs €1.63. If you aren’t bringing your car with you, you’ll need about €24,762 to purchase a new economy-class car.
Monthly Cost of Living in the Netherlands for Single Person
With a new culture, language, and food at every turn, moving to a new country can be a brand new adventure each day. But relocating alone can be just as challenging as it is exciting. With no friends and family, being alone in a whole new environment can seem scary. To survive in a new country, you need to embrace being alone, make finding new friends a priority, connect with other expats, and research your new neighborhood.
Several factors will contribute to your monthly expenses while living in the Netherlands. If you choose to live frugally (don’t shop much, dine out only on special occasions, and live a leaner lifestyle with no gym membership), your costs/month could total to around €1,500. But if you want to live in the city center, go out every weekend, and keep the HVAC system on all day, your total costs/month could go over €2,800.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the kind of experience you’re looking for in the Netherlands. To help you plan financially, I’ve highlighted the most common monthly expenses for a single person
|Expenses||The average cost for a single person|
|Basic health cover||105€|
|Basic grooming supplies||20€|
In addition to these major expenses, other monthly expenses of living in the Netherlands for single person include:
Most people in this great nation just cycle everywhere. This means that your transportation costs could be zero if you wanted. You’ll, however, spend €40-100 for a decent used bike, while a new one costs several hundred Euros. There’s also public transportation, which includes networks of trams, trains, buses, and metro. While the cost of each journey is based on the distance traveled and time, expect your monthly ticket public transport to be around €80. Taxis, on the other hand, are a bit costly with fares ranging between €2 and 7/kilometre.
The Dutch are big on their social life and love to go out for a drink. Therefore, after managing all the necessities, it’s time you got a treat. A standard evening meal in a cheap restaurant goes for €10-17 per person. But if you want a much nicer restaurant, expect to spend €30-40/person.
Monthly Cost of Living in the Netherlands for Students and International Students
If you’re heading to the Netherlands for studies, you’re probably wondering how much everything is going to cost. This text breaks down all the different costs associated with the university life to make sure you have everything covered. Without further ado, let’s get started:
When it comes to higher learning, universities offer affordable courses, which cost about €2,000/year for EU students. Non-EU/EEA students are charged double, or even triple that amount, which could go up to €6,000/year. MBA programs range from €40,000-50,000. Keep in mind that tuition fees vary depending on the institution, degree, scholarship opportunities, the residence permit type, and previous study history.
There are several options when it comes to where students can stay in the Netherlands, including:
University accommodation: This form of accommodation is quite limited and only available at a few universities. If you manage to get this sort of arrangement for the entire four years of your degree program, the costs would amount to €13,600.
Private renting: Most students will get this form of accommodation. There are several options when it comes to renting. Rented housing cost about €300-600/month –utilities included.
Note that most leases run for 6-12 months, and you must know whether the room/apartment is shard or individual, as well as whether it’s furnished or unfurnished.
Many higher learning institutions offer meals at reasonable prices. Students can also find a good meal at a good price as eetcafés. Some average prices include:
- €2 for a cup of coffee/tea
- €3 for a cheese sandwich
- €10 for dinner at a typical student restaurant
Even so, the cheapest way to eat is to make your meals. This will cost you about €180/month for food.
You can save a lot on transportation by using a bike. Buy or rent one, and be sure to invest in a quality lock to keep the bike from being stolen. If you choose to use public transport, expect to spend between €25-50 a month.
Other expenses for students in the Netherlands include:
|Expense||Average monthly cost|
|Basic health cover||40-100€|
|Study books and supplies||30-85€|
|Electricity, gas, water, monthly||100-225€|
|Clothes and shoes||45€|
|Sports, going out, recreation||140€|
Most restaurants, museums, bars, and cinemas give student discounts. But they’ll ask for proof in the form of a student ID from your institution. The ISIC (International Student Identity Card) is valid worldwide and gives students discounts on shopping, travel, and museums.
In total, a student should expect to spend between €700 and 1,100/month on living costs when studying in the Netherlands. You won’t be able to live like a king in the above budget, but it should be able to cater for basic survival.
Average Monthly Costs of Living in the Netherlands
Monthly Rent for an Apartment
The rental market here is divided into two sectors: social housing and private housing. Social housing is meant for people with lower incomes with the current rent limit at 720.42 Euros. Private housing, on the other hand, has been liberalized. This means both the landlord and the tenant have freedom when it comes to rent and services provided.
Rent in the Netherlands is notoriously high; plus, rental properties move quickly here. This makes it a bit challenging to find quality and affordable housing. It’s cheaper to live in less urbanized areas, but if you must stay in the city, live in outlying suburbs instead of the city center. The average rental price of a house in the Netherlands is €23.28/sq.m in Amsterdam, €15.87/sq.m in The Hague, €16.29/sq.m in Rotterdam, and €17.27/sq.m in Utrecht.
With that said, here’re a few estimates for rental properties in the Netherlands to guide you.
|City||Bedrooms||Rent in Suburbs||Rent in Centrum|
Anti-squat agencies provide a very cheap form of basic accommodation. They divide empty buildings into rooms and rent them out at cheap rates, as low as €150/month. Keep in mind that tenants have fewer rights; plus, tenancies are typically short and can end suddenly when the building is sold. In that case, only go for this kind of housing if you’re happy to pack and move on anytime.
Apart from renting, the Netherlands is a country of homeowners. While this can be complicated for expatriates, it’s not impossible. It’s important to take time to learn how the Dutch housing market works. On average, buying an apartment in the Netherlands is about €300,000; the exact amount you’ll need will depend on the area you’re buying in. One of the ways to step into the property ladder is through a Dutch mortgage. Banks may, however, not offer 100% mortgages to non-permanent residents, and your credit score matters as well
Monthly Cost for Internet Provider
The average internet speed in the Netherlands is 80 Mbps, placing it among the fastest in Europe. The country has several internet providers who, depending on where you live, offer internet via cable, fiber optic, and ADSL/VDSL. But they all offer different connections, prices, and internet speeds. Finding the best internet provider will depend on your internet usage. There are three types of internet users:
The internet surfer: These are the people who use the internet on a general basis like for Facebook, email, and Google. 20mbps of download speed should be enough for such a user.
The streamer: If you use Youtube, Netflix, and Spotify regularly, then consider getting the 60mbps package
The gamer: The gaming type never wants slow internet at any time. In that case, consider the 100-500mbs package. Note that these packages can only be booked if you have an optical fiber connection.
Now that you know your internet needs, let’s take a look at the three major internet providers and what they have to offer.
|Internet providers||Internet||Internet & TV|
Smaller providers like Tele2, Online, Caiway, Youfone, and Telfort, also provide internet connections, and at cheaper prices. All these internet providers offer different packages at different prices and internet speeds.
Monthly Cost for Mobile Phone Provider
There are two kinds of phone plans in the Netherlands:
Prepaid plans: Prepaid card providers offer cheap packages with a lot of freedom. You can use it for as long/short as you want without any obligations whatsoever. You also get the option of keeping your number without charge. On the downside, calls are more expensive and you’ll need to purchase new credit when you run out before you can continue making calls. Prepaid plans are ideal if you’re staying for a short time.
Postpaid plans: These are plans with a recurring monthly cycle. Contracts are generally for about 1,2, or 3 years, but some providers allow you to decide monthly whether you want to continue your contract or not. They cost around €8/month for unlimited calling and no data, €20/month for unlimited calling and 10 gigabytes of data, or €25-40/month for unlimited calling and data. Obviously, the longer your subscription, the lower your monthly bill will be.
Here’s a look at the main mobile phone providers and their monthly rates
|Mobile phone provider||Sim Only Subscriptions|
Monthly Cost for Health Insurance
A health cover is compulsory for anyone living in the Netherlands, and it’s designed to cover the cost of medical care. All expatriates must have a Dutch health cover even if they’re already insured at home. This should be done within four months of your arrival.
Types of Dutch health Insurance:
Compulsory Basic Cover (basisverzekering)
This cover costs around €100/month. It’s set by the government and bound to health laws and regulations. It covers essential medical care, including:
- Prescribed medication
- Appointments with the doctor
- Hospital stays for surgery or emergency treatment
- Psychological healthcare
- Ambulance services
- Basic dental care for children under 18 years
- Midwifery (birth-care)
One more thing, everyone in this group is required to pay obligatory deductible excess of €385. But you can choose to increase your deductible excess up to €500, which will lower your monthly premiums by about 15-25 Euros a month.
Optional additional Cover (aanvullende verzekering)
The basic cover can be expanded to provide extra coverage for additional medical treatments such as adult dental care, vaccinations, physiotherapy, plastic surgery, contact lenses, and so on. A good number of the Dutch population have a supplemental cover. This is where private health insurance providers come in. There are so many of them in the Netherlands with each competing to offer policies that are best suited for your lifestyle and health needs.
The Monthly Cost for Groceries
Shopping for groceries is a compulsory expense in every household. As I said earlier, preparing your meals costs far lesser than dining out. There are plenty of supermarkets, grocery stores, and open-air markets where you can do your grocery shopping. Personally, I find the open-air markets a little cheaper for fresh foods.
Here’s a list of the main products, together with their general prices in the Netherlands:
|Product||The average cost|
|Local cheese (1kg)||10.26€|
|Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless) (1kg)||8.50€|
|Water (2-liter bottle)||1.10€|
Generally, grocery shopping in the Netherlands is comparable to most countries in Western Europe, but 20% cheaper than in the UK.
The Monthly Cost for Eating Out
Dining out is not the way of life in the Netherlands, mostly because the costs for eating out are relatively higher compared to other countries. Dutch people might dine out once or twice a month and on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. You may not find a typical Dutch restaurant, but there are several that specialize in all types of delicious cuisines, including Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Italian, Argentinean, and Japanese, just to name a few. You can also opt for the budget-friendly fast-food places like McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Domino’s, and burger king for some fries, pizza, fried chicken, or burgers. For cheaper alternatives, there are plenty of all-you-can-eat restaurants and eetcafé-style restaurants.
So, what can you expend to spend eating out?
|Eating out per person||Cost|
|Main course meal at a cheap restaurant||17€|
|Main course meal at an average restaurant||25€|
|Main course meal in a more upscale establishment||40€|
|A bottle of red wine||5€|
There are so many things to do during your leisure time. Get a movie ticket for around €12 or a ticket to a live show for €27. You can also visit the museums and pay €20 for entry fees. The museumkaart (museum card), allows you to get into over 400 museums in the Netherlands for just €60/month. Last but not least, hire a boat for a canal tour for about €24.
The Monthly Cost of Public Transport
As I mentioned earlier, the best and cheapest way to get around is by bicycle. With that said, the Netherlands also has excellent public transport links with buses, trams, metro, and trains. Note that children over 4 years and under 12 years, as well as people over 65 years, receive a 34% discount off the full fare when traveling by bus, metro, and tram. Children aged 0-3 travel for free! Here’s what transportation will cost you in the Netherlands:
|Transportation||The average price|
|Multi-Day tickets (1-7days)||7.50-36.50€|
|Taxi rate (per km)||2.40€|
The Holland Travel Ticket
This was designed to make it easier for visitors to navigate the entire country on a single ticket. It costs 61€ and lasts a day on all Dutch public transport. You can also find an off-peak ticket for 41€ This ticket is a good option if you plan on doing a lot of traveling across the country in a single day.
Cost Of Living in the Hague, Netherlands
The Hague has a healthy international community due to the many international agencies and consulates located there. The city offers a more sophisticated, sedate, and conservative living environment. While it may not be a great choice for singles looking to party, it sure is ideal for families and couples looking for a stable base in the Netherlands. So what can you expect to spend living in The Hague?
Residents will find rent prices to be considerably lower compared to other major Dutch cities. A one-bedroom apartment averages at €850, while a three-bedroom apartment averages at €1,550. You’re likely to pay higher if it’s furnished and located in a good neighborhood.
You’ll pay roughly €3.15 for a dozen of eggs, €2.20 for 1kg of tomatoes, €1.24 for a loaf of bread, and €14 for a basic lunchtime meal in the business district. Generally, grocery and restaurant costs in this city are comparable to other Dutch cities.
The city has excellent public transportation options. You can get a monthly ticket for public transport for €78. If you choose to drive, a liter of gas costs €1.66.
Opportunities for entertainment in The Hague are in the form of museums, restaurants, theatres, and shopping. Dinner for two will cost you €42 in the neighborhood and €72 in an Italian restaurant. 2 tickets to the theatre or the movies cost €103 and €24 respectively.
Generally, living costs in this city are approximated to be lower compared to New York, London, and Paris, but more costly than Madrid and Berlin.
Rotterdam is another multicultural hub for foreigners to relocate to in the Netherlands. It has a large international community and surprisingly, lacks many tourists. The quality of life is good and the cost of living is relatively low compared to other major cities like Amsterdam. But this may change in the coming years as the city strives to develop luxury facilities. The much you’ll spend living in this city will greatly depend on your lifestyle. However, let’s see a general guide:
Cost Of Living in Rotterdam Netherlands
There isn’t too much variation in food prices to grab your attention. Meaning, food costs in this city are comparable to other areas in the Netherlands. Apartments get less expensive as you move farther from the city center. Utility costs are a bit hard to judge as several factors cause variations. Things like the type of property, insulation, and weather conditions can change how much you pay every month. However, on average, monthly utilities (electricity, water, and garbage) cost €177. Last but not least, a 6 Mbps internet connection with unlimited data will cost about €22, while 1 min. of prepaid mobile tariff is €0.23.
Cost Of Living in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and a well-known destination for many tourists. The city draws a younger, more artistic crowd due to its edginess and busy lifestyle. Living costs in Amsterdam are expensive compared to other Dutch cities. On the upside, the availability of jobs allows residents to cater for the costs. Living in the central areas is more costly, pushing residents to move to the suburbs like Amstelveen.
The average cost of living ranges from €1,000-€2,500 per month. Students, on the other hand, will spend less but still higher than those in other cities. Thinking of studying in Amsterdam? Well, expect o spend around €900-1,500/month on living expenses, minus the tuition fees.
Here’s an overview of monthly expenses:
|Rent & Utilities||1259€|
|Basic health cover||150€|
|Prepaid Mobile Standard Call (per minute)||0.18-0.36€|
|Taxes & Admin||44€|
Compared to other major cities in the world, living costs in Amsterdam are approximated to be higher than Munich and Madrid, but lower than London, Paris, and New York.
From a different language to a different culture, and even pricing levels, the Netherlands and the UK are quite different despite their proximity. If you lived in the Netherlands instead of the UK, you would pay more for restaurants, groceries, transportation, and housing. Here’s a more in-depth look at the differences in cost of living between these two countries:
Cost of living in Netherlands vs the UK
|Living Expenses||UK €||Netherlands €|
|Internet (60mbps or more)||34/month||38/month|
|A basic meal in a cheap restaurant||13||15|
|International Primary School (1 child)||1195/month||540/month|
|A pair of Jeans (Levis 501 or Similar)||63||84|
|1kg chicken breasts||6.27||8.50|
|Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)||2.08||2.40|
Cost of living in Netherlands vs the USA
Many American expatriates are living in the Netherlands. The Dutch culture is so rich down to their architecture –say goodbye to boring townhouses that all look alike. Nearly everyone speaks English, but it wouldn’t hurt to learn some Dutch to be able to communicate with the locals. But that’s not what this text is about. I’m here to compare living costs between these two countries.
Living in the US generally costs more than living in the Netherlands. If you’re moving to the Netherlands, groceries, housing, entertainment & sports, as well as personal care cost less, while transportation, clothes, childcare, and restaurants cost more than in the US.
Here’s a breakdown of these costs:
|Expenses||US €||The Netherlands €|
|Transportation (monthly pass)||63||80|
|Basic utilities (per month)||140||160|
|A meal in an inexpensive restaurant||13.59||15.00|
|3 bedroom apartment||1895/month||1645/month|
|Buying an apartment||2346/m2||3970/m2|
|A summer dress in a chain store||31||35|
|Fitness Club (monthly fee)||32||28|
|Preschool (1 child)||804/month||1368/month|
While the cost of living in the Netherlands isn’t that cheap, it’s possible to live here without breaking a bank. Rent is probably the most expensive cost to factor in. Once you figure that out, the rest of the expenses are pretty decent values. If you can manage to spend only a third of your salary on rent and a half on groceries, utilities, transportation, entertainment, and clothing, then it’s possible to live a comfortable life.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.