Expats tend to gather in the cities that boast international vibes and lots of jobs. For the Netherlands, that’s Amsterdam. But there are plenty of opportunities for jobs in other Dutch cities too, including Rotterdam, the Hague and even Groningen.
Though Amsterdam is the most well-known city in the Netherlands, there are plenty of other cities in the Netherlands that have just as much an international vibe and just as many jobs. International recruitment agency Undutchables lists some of the best places in the Netherlands to find work besides Amsterdam.
Undutchables is a recruitment agency for expats. Operating across the Netherlands (with branches in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Eindhoven), Undutchables helps everyone from first-jobbers to experienced executives progress their careers when moving to the Netherlands.
The Amsterdam job market
Amsterdam is getting a little crowded — there is currently a dire housing shortage, and the government has urged people to look outside the city for homes — and jobs may be hard to come by thanks to the stiff competition.
The current unemployment rate in Amsterdam is at 6.7%, and its biggest industries include IT, creative fields such as media and marketing, financial services and the health and sciences.
Finding jobs in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is an old city that looks brand new. The city’s medieval centre and cobblestone streets were destroyed during World War II, but it has been since transformed into a glittering metropolis of metallic skyscrapers and unique architecture. Rotterdam has a population of about 625,000 (compared to Amsterdam’s 820,000), so it’s still a bustling city for those who love to be in the thick of things. One of the main features of the city is the Port of Rotterdam, which is also one of its biggest employers.
That being said, the unemployment rate in Rotterdam is the highest in the Netherlands at 11.3%. The five biggest employers in Rotterdam are Gemeente Rotterdam, the government of the region; Erasmus University Medical Center, the largest university medical centres in Europe; Ahold Delhaize, a retailer famous for its supermarkets; Laurens, a care institute with headquarters in Rotterdam; and the Rotterdam police.
If you’re looking for a job in Rotterdam in the health and welfare sector or the retail sector, you’ll be well suited to Rotterdam — those industries have the most vacancies in South Holland. Like Amsterdam, English is nearly an official language of the region, and you’ll find plenty of jobs without needing Dutch.
Looking for jobs in Utrecht
Utrecht is located just a stone’s throw south of Amsterdam and northeast of Rotterdam, and it is part of its own province: Utrecht. While neighbor Rotterdam lost its medieval buildings, Utrecht held onto its: it even boasts Roman ruins beneath its city centre, just under the magnificent Dom Tower. The city’s unemployment, however, is nearly half that of Rotterdam’s at 6 percent but boasts many of the same booming industries, including retail and healthcare. The top employers in Utrecht are UMC Utrecht, a medical centre; Rabobank, the Dutch international bank, headquartered in the city; Utrecht University; Capgemini, an international IT consulting company; and Gemeente Utrecht, the government. It is also an English-speaking city, so you are more likely to be able to find work in Utrecht without fluency in Dutch.
Find jobs in The Hague
The Hague is actually where the government is headquartered even though it is not the capital of the Netherlands (that honor goes to Amsterdam), and it is the home of the international courts as well as foreign embassies. In every café, you’ll find professionals gathering to discuss the latest in business in politics; as it’s a coastal city, however, you’ll always find a younger crowd looking for a good time at the beach.
The Hague is quite a competitive city in regards to employment, with an unemployment rate on the higher side. However, it’s got a large share of international companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and telecom companies AT&T and T-Mobile, that are looking to fill positions with those who can manage such an international vibe.
Because it’s the heart of politics and business, it’s also a place where English is widely spoken — expats won’t have much trouble finding jobs without speaking Dutch.
Seeking jobs in Groningen
Though lots of people assume so, Amsterdam isn’t the most northern point in the country — Groningen lies far further, and it still has plenty of people (nearly 600,000, actually!). It’s a student city, with the University of Groningen, one of the oldest in the Netherlands, at its heart. The university is one of the biggest employers in the region, along with the University Medical Centre Groningen and Gasunie, the Dutch natural gas company.
The unemployment rate in Groningen is fairly high at 9.1 percent, however, and its most important labor sectors include agribusiness, shipbuilding, life sciences, chemical engineering, the energy industry and customer contact centres. Even though Groningen is a university city with plenty of internationals, you may have a tougher time finding a job where Dutch is not needed at all.
Finding jobs in Eindhoven
Eindhoven is one of the smaller cities, with just about 220,000 residents. It’s located a little over an hour’s train ride south of Amsterdam in North-Brabant, and is known as the most inventive city in the world — locally, it’s known as the research and knowledge hub of the Netherlands. It’s also been ranked as one of the most intelligent communities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum, thanks to its technology-focused manufacturing industry, its technology university and its standing as the home of some of the most innovative companies.
The unemployment rate is 6.8, comparable to Amsterdam but far lower than other major cities. The biggest employers include Philips, ASML and NXP, a semiconductor manufacturer.
Because the city is a meeting place for the greatest global minds, English is widely spoken; expats in technical fields, researchers, engineers, and IT professionals can more easily find work in Eindhoven without speaking Dutch.
Locating jobs in Limburg
Limburg is a hidden gem in the Netherlands, often visited by those living in the north for its beautiful landscape and more peaceful atmosphere. Its largest city in the province is its capital Maastricht with about 123,000 residents, so you should not expect the bustling metropolises the north offers. However, the unemployment rate in Limburg is just 5.5 %, lower than all of the abovementioned cities, and it boasts a number of big-time employers such as tile manufacturer Mosa in Maastricht and various companies on the chemical park Chemelot in Geleen.
For expats, the best place in Limburg to find work is most likely Maastricht as English is more widely spoken — the official language of Maastricht University is English, and there are a number of international companies headquartered in the city such as the university medical centre, the European Journalism Centre and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). Outside Maastricht, expats may have trouble finding jobs where Dutch is not needed — in fact, the region’s dialect, Limburgs, is used more frequently in regular conversation than any other dialect in the Netherlands.
Tips on finding jobs in other Dutch cities
We have plenty of guides to help you find work in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam or other cities: