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Most expats in the Netherlands are staying put

Published on February 19, 2021

Impact of coronavirus on income and mental health are major issues

Amsterdam – Almost a quarter of international workers say they had considered leaving the Netherlands because of coronavirus, according to a new poll by the International Community Advisory Platform.

However, despite reports that expats are leaving in droves, three in five of those polled said they were not aware of any international workers who had left the Netherlands because of coronavirus, while 24% were aware of ‘one or two’.

In total, 2,350 people from 104 different countries took part in the survey, which was carried out in November and December.

Nevertheless, the impact of the virus on international workers has been significant. In total 74% say coronavirus is havingan impact on their mental health and 65% of respondents are worried about the impact of coronavirus on their household income. Three in 10 say their job could be under threat and 9% have already lost work.

Stricter rules

Many internationals were understanding of the Dutch strategy to deal with the virus, even though many said the rules were stricter in their own countries. 

‘I’d rather be here with this sane country than in the US, no question. In general I’m very proud of this government, and I trust them,’ one international worker said.

But others say the situation in the Netherlands exposes a selfish side to the Dutch character. ‘Personal freedom should not come before someone else’s life,’ one expat in Amsterdam said.


Being in the Netherlands during the pandemic has been particularly problematic for people who moved here relatively recently and who have no social network.

‘Coronavirus has drastically slowed down our integration into Dutch society as it is more difficult to socialize, practice Dutch and build up our network outside the expat community,’ said one international worker in The Hague.

The impact on the mental health of respondents is something to keep an eye on, in particular the 15% who are unsure where to turn for help, said ICAP board member Deborah Valentine. ‘Just 2% of people reported having help from their employers, and this is something which HR departments could take on board.’

ICAP board member Deborah Valentine

Missing family

Missing friends and family in other countries has also been a major issue, given the disruption to international travel since the start of the pandemic. And over a quarter say they are very worried about friends and family back home.  

‘For a whole year my kids have not seen their grandparents. It is heartbreaking that they find it normal to kiss a phone when they talk to family. If we are at a park they run up to old people to say hi to them,’

One respondent in Amsterdam said.

Further information

For more on the ICAP research, please contact Robin Pascoe on 0645241999 or email [email protected]

About ICAP

ICAP is an independent foundation founded in 2016 to build a bridge between the Netherlands’ international community and government and civic organizations.

In particular, ICAP aims to establish an independent forum to represent and reflect the views of the international community on issues which have an impact on the Netherlands’ attractiveness as a place to live in and do business.