While the cost of living in the Netherlands might not be the cheapest, it is possible to live in this charming part of western Europe without breaking the bank. Within the Randstad – the area that incorporates the Netherlands’ four largest cities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam) – prices can be high, especially for rent. On the other hand, you could save some money by living outside these cities.
To learn more about expenses in the Netherlands, read on for information on the following:
- General cost of living and standards of living in the Netherlands
- Cost of housing in the Netherlands
- Cost of domestic bills in the Netherlands
- Healthcare costs in the Netherlands
- Cost of childcare in the Netherlands
- Study costs in the Netherlands
- Cost of food and drink in the Netherlands
- Cost of transport in the Netherlands
- Leisure costs in the Netherlands
- Taxation and social security in the Netherlands
- Assistance with living costs in the Netherlands
- Useful resources
General cost of living and standards of living in the Netherlands
In the OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands performs well for general well-being and ranks above average for work-life balance, education, environmental quality, and life satisfaction. The net-adjusted disposable income per household is around €32,519, which is higher than the OECD average of €28,344.
Meanwhile, when it comes to financing a move to the Netherlands, the Dutch capital ranks 25th in Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living Survey. Amsterdam is more expensive to live in than Paris and Lagos, but less expensive than Singapore and New York.
Cost of living in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the official capital of the Netherlands although not the political center, which is based in The Hague. Known as the Big Village to the locals, Amsterdam’s network of canals makes it an idyllic setting to call home.
However, its popularity means the cost of living in Amsterdam is significantly higher than in other parts of the country, with rent prices higher than in comparable cities in Europe, although it depends on which area of the city you choose. Living in Amsterdam’s central areas is particularly expensive, pushing residents to seek out accommodation in Amsterdam’s neighboring municipalities, such as Amstelveen.
The cost of living in Amsterdam is estimated to be:
- 76% more expensive than Istanbul
- 48% more expensive than Paramaribo
- 100% more expensive than Casablanca
- 65% more expensive than Warsaw
- 1% cheaper than Berlin
Cost of living in Utrecht
Utrecht’s proximity to Amsterdam, good transport links, and student population have influenced its popularity, but have also pushed up its cost of living.
The cost of living in Utrecht is estimated to be:
- 89% more expensive than Istanbul
- 110% more expensive than Jakarta
- 124% more expensive than Casablanca
- 62% more expensive than Warsaw
- 5% more expensive than Berlin
Cost of living in Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s changing landscape, unique architecture, and affordable prices are increasingly attracting more foreign nationals.
The cost of living in Rotterdam has traditionally been lower than in other main Dutch cities, but it has been rising as the city continues to focus on developing luxury facilities.
The cost of living in Rotterdam is estimated to be:
- 67% more expensive than Istanbul
- 41% more expensive than Paramaribo
- 98% more expensive than Casablanca
- 43% more expensive than Warsaw
- 6% cheaper than Berlin
Cost of living in The Hague
As the seat of the International Court of Justice and the location of many embassies and non-governmental organizations, the cost of living can be pricey in certain neighborhoods of The Hague (Den Haag). However, living in The Hague offers a good quality of life, international schools, and Michelin-starred dining.
The cost of living in The Hague is estimated to be:
- 61% more expensive than Istanbul
- 80% more expensive than Jakarta
- 91% more expensive than Casablanca
- 38% more expensive than Warsaw
- 9% cheaper than Berlin
Outside of the main Dutch cities, the cost of living in the Netherlands is typically lower. Read more about living in:
Cost of housing in the Netherlands
Housing is a large part of the Netherlands’ cost of living for internationals. This is due to the high demand (and low supply) of quality rental properties, especially in Amsterdam.
House prices in the Netherlands have surged in the last few years, and as a result, finding affordable accommodation in the main Dutch cities can be a challenge. For students and singles on a modest salary, house-sharing is the best option, but you can’t always guarantee the conditions are what you are accustomed to in your own country.
Rental costs in the Netherlands
Amsterdam and The Hague have the highest rent prices and, because of the huge demand, competition is fierce. Living in less urbanized areas can be much cheaper and still well-connected by rail and road.
For example, a one-bedroom apartment to rent in Amsterdam can range from €1,345–2,000 a month depending on which neighborhood you live in. Meanwhile, three-bedroom apartments in central Amsterdam start from around €1,800.
Living in The Hague is significantly less expensive than Amsterdam with prices ranging from around €950–1,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. Bear in mind that you will need to pay a security deposit, generally one or two months’ rent, to your landlord. Some rental contracts include running costs as well.
Property prices in the Netherlands
If you are considering buying property in the Netherlands, how much you’ll spend depends largely on the area you’re buying in. For example, the average property price in Amsterdam is now more than €510,000, but the overall average price of an apartment in the Netherlands is €395,000 (autumn 2022). You will also need to add the cost of a Dutch mortgage, home insurance, and transfer tax (2% of property price).
Cost of domestic bills in the Netherlands
Utility costs in the Netherlands
Gas and electricity in the Netherlands are fairly expensive and can increase the cost of living in the Netherlands. The average basic cost for utilities for an 85-square-meter apartment is around €217. Residents and homeowners also pay a sewerage charge (rioolheffing) determined by the municipality (roughly €160 in Amsterdam).
In addition, some fees cover the cost of refuse collection (afvalstoffenheffing). For a single-occupancy dwelling in Amsterdam, the municipal tax is €344 per year; for a multiple-occupancy home, the amount rises to €459.
Telecommunications in the Netherlands
There is no fee for a television license in the Netherlands, but there are also few channels. Most Dutch Internet companies offer broadband packages that include internet, phone, and television starting from €30–60 a month.
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 official residents are required by law to take out Dutch health insurance. This includes Zorgverzekeringswet, which is basic insurance covering standard medical care procedures, and Wet Langdurige Zorg which covers long-term nursing care.
The cost of a basic health insurance package starts at around €135 per month, in exchange for free or subsidized primary care, including the cost of prescription medicines. In many cases, you can receive a healthcare benefit to cover most of this cost. If you are an EU citizen and are only planning a short-term stay in the Netherlands, you can get the same level of care through your European Health Insurance Card.
Cost of childcare in the Netherlands
Children up to the age of four can be left in a daycare or nursery school (kinderopvang), where fees average around €10 an hour. Usually, this is charged per day or half day.
Another option is to leave your children with a host parent. A gastouder is typically someone with young children of their own. They look after other children in their home, which will set you back around €6 per hour plus extra costs for outings and food.
Once children attend school at age five, there are organizations and school minders that provide after-school care for the convenience of working parents. You can expect to pay about €7 per hour, but this is usually charged by term.
Alternatively, you can also hire an au pair. By law, au pairs require food and shelter. On average, au pairs must be paid an allowance of at least €300 per month.
For more information, read more about childcare in the Netherlands.
Study costs in the Netherlands
The cost of education in the Netherlands is comparable to other EU countries, but it depends on the school choice.
Public schools are free and universities in the Netherlands offer affordable courses starting at around €2,300 per year for EU students, with typically higher fees for non-EU students. MBA programs average between €8,000 and €20,000.
All the major cities in the Netherlands also have international schools, which offer bilingual classes, predominantly in English. Tuition fees generally range between €3,800 to €26,000 a year.
Cost of food and drink in the Netherlands
Groceries in the Netherlands
Staple foods are not overly expensive in the Netherlands. General supermarkets such as Albert Heijn and Dirk stock a good supply of everyday foods that are typically less expensive than specialist stores.
If you have a smaller food budget, head for Aldi, Lidl, or the street markets, where you can save between 10–15% on your weekly shop. As a general rule, the budget per person for basic grocery shopping is around €300 per month.
Restaurants in the Netherlands
Dining out in the Netherlands is affordable if you stick to the more modest restaurants. The cosmopolitan choice of restaurants in most cities provides plenty of competition, but dining out can be expensive, especially in Amsterdam.
A standard evening meal can cost between €10 to €25 per person in a cheap restaurant and €50–100 per person in an average restaurant. Tips are not included in the bill and are typically up to 10%, while 15% or more is considered generous.
Beer, wine, and spirits in the Netherlands
Beers are typically sold in half liters or 33cl and cost €3–6, while a mid-range bottle of wine from a supermarket costs between €4.50 to €8. If you prefer cocktails, these are €8 on average, although prices will differ depending on the cocktail you choose.
Coffee in the Netherlands
What you spend on coffee varies from place to place. However, the average price for a cappuccino in Amsterdam, Groningen, and Maastricht is roughly the same: €3.20.
Cost of transport in the Netherlands
Public transport in the Netherlands
Public transport in the Netherlands is comprehensive, including networks of trams, buses, metro, and trains. In most cities, you can buy a ticket for a few hours or an entire day. For example, a one-hour ticket in Amsterdam costs €3.20, while a day ticket costs €9. There are also tickets available for multiple days.
However, the best way to save money when traveling is to buy a public transport card (OV-chipkaart). This will allow you to travel on all modes of public transport in the Netherlands. You can buy a personalized or anonymous card for €7.50. The personalized OV-chipkaart will allow you to use extra products, such as public hire bikes at Dutch stations and discounts outside rush hour. You must keep at least €20 on your anonymous OV-chipkaart to travel by train, or €10 on your personal one. You can top it up at stations, vending machines, and tourist information offices.
Private transport in the Netherlands
The best way to get around most Dutch cities is by bicycle. Even major cities like Amsterdam and The Hague are fairly compact and fit for cycling. Bike prices vary enormously, depending on whether you buy new or second-hand, and whether you buy a city bike or something fancier.
Taxi prices in the Netherlands vary considerably. On average, the starting price for a taxi is €3.60, with €2.40 added per kilometer. If you want to buy a car, you can expect to pay about €25,500 for a Volkswagen Golf or a Toyota Corolla Sedan.
Leisure costs in the Netherlands
Clothing costs in the Netherlands
Prices for clothing in the Netherlands are fairly similar to those in surrounding countries. For example, a dress in a chain store costs around €33. You can buy a pair of mid-range jeans for an average of €74, and a pair of leather dress shoes for €103.
Hobbies in the Netherlands
A gym membership will set you back €20–60 per month, depending on your gym’s facilities. Of course, you could save money by running around the great outdoors, but you’ll need to factor in costs for running shoes. These come in at an average of €82.
Meanwhile, those who are into the big screen can expect to pay €12 to watch an international release at the cinema.
Taxation and social security in the Netherlands
The percentage of Dutch income tax is based on earnings and includes worldwide income. The 2023 tax brackets are as follows:
- Up to €73,031: 36.93%
- Over €73,031: 49.5%
There are also special tax breaks for non-resident taxpayers, including the Dutch 30% rule. If you work as a freelancer, you might also need to factor in VAT (Belasting Toegevoegde Waarde – BTW), paid quarterly. For more information on the Dutch tax system, read about taxes in the Netherlands.
Social security costs including the Dutch pension are deducted directly from your salary. Contributions are made by both you and your employer in accordance with your earnings. Social security contributions cover National Insurance, employee insurance, and medical insurance.
Pensions are made up of three sections: the Dutch state pension, workplace pensions, and private pensions. The first is funded by taxes, the second is taken from your salary, and the third is a voluntary contribution.
Assistance with living costs in the Netherlands
Although the Dutch tax system is complicated, and the cost of living in the Netherlands is high, help is available to alleviate some of the strain. The Netherlands offers the following benefits:
- Family benefits
- Invalidity, accidents, and sick pay
- Pensions and survivor’s benefit
- Social assistance
There are three types of family benefits: child benefit (kinderbijslag), child budget (kindergebonden budget), and child care benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag). The first is universal for those living and working in the Netherlands. Currently, this stands at €269.76 for 0–5 years, €327.56 for 6–11 years, and €385.37 for 12–17 years. This increases for children with a disability or living away from home for education. Kindergebonden budget depends on your income – if you have a lower income, you might be entitled to it.
In addition, kinderopvangtoeslag can assist with your childcare fees. It depends on your household income, your working hours, the amount of childcare required, and the price of the facility.
If you have Dutch health insurance, you can also apply for health care allowance (zorgtoeslag). This amounts differs depending on income.
There are several criteria that you must meet to receive unemployment benefits. These include being available to work and having become employed through no fault of your own. This starts at 75% of your former income and you can receive it for three months (which increases if you have worked for at least 208 hours in four of the last five years).
- SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank) – Details of Dutch benefits including simple explanations about how to apply
- European Commission – Information on benefits and social security in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe
- Tax administration (Belastingdienst) – Dutch tax information for individuals living and working in the Netherlands