I spent 4 years in the Netherlands and know what it's like to live there as an American expat. Read my article below and leave a comment.
As an American, moving to the Netherlands and living there for almost four years was rewarding but sometimes challenging. Based on my experiences as an American expat, I put together a list of the pros and cons of living in Holland.
In this article, you will find information about the Dutch way of life including:
- People and Culture
- Jobs, Employment and Money
- Getting Around and Traveling
- News and TV
I hope these tips will help you on your Netherlandish journey!
Living in the Netherlands vs. the USA
So you want to move to the Netherlands and want to know what life is going to be like over there? Is it going to be vastly different from life in the United States?
I've got the answers for you, so keep reading!
1. People and Culture
There are large expat communities.
There are many American expatriates living in Amsterdam, which, in my opinion, is the best place for Americans to live in the Netherlands (Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Eindhoven are also great).
There are a variety of expat groups you can join to meet people and make friends. I found a bunch of cool groups on meetup.com where people meet weekly or monthly for a borrel (i.e., meeting up for drinks and socializing).
The Dutch generally have a good sense of style.
You won't see anyone here who looks like they just rolled out of bed. The fashion sense of Dutchies is quite impressive—at least to my American standard.
Marijuana and prostitution are legal.
But don't think that everyone who walks around smokes weed and prostitutes themselves for a living. In fact, the majority of the Dutch people I know don't even smoke weed.
And prostitution is very much regulated and contained to certain parts of the country (e.g. the Red Light district in Amsterdam).
But it's 2020 now and it seems like a lot of states are starting to legalize marijuana, so maybe this isn't such a big deal anymore.
The parties never end.
Many clubs don't close until the crack of dawn, and many don't charge a cover fee.
There are many unwritten rules and norms.
The Dutch love the phrase doe eens normaal which means "just do normal."
Stick to the norms and you shall be accepted by the Dutchies. Deviate from the norms, and you'll look foolish.
I'm pretty free-spirited so I felt suffocated by all of the unwritten rules and norms. For example, you're supposed to greet people by kissing them not once, not twice, but three times on the cheek!
You have to schedule "appointments" to visit friends.
To hang out with people, you have to make an afspraak (i.e., appointment) with them beforehand. Many have agendas where they plan everything out in advance—who they're going to hang out with that day, what they're going to do, etc.
There's not much spontaneity here.
Almost no two houses are alike.
Everything is so different, and the culture here is so rich—right down to the architecture. Say goodbye to boring townhouses that all look the same.
Many sinks have no garbage disposals.
Most houses here were built before the 1900s—especially in dense cities like Amsterdam—so you won't find many modern interior amenities.
This means you must make sure that food doesn't go down your kitchen drain, otherwise, it might come back up through your shower drain. That happened to me several times in my apartment in Leiden.
If you want to avoid this, you'll need to rent or buy a house that's been renovated, and is probably located outside of the city centers.
The customer service is generally sub-optimal.
Unlike in the United States, most waiters and waitresses in the Netherlands make much more than minimum wage, so they have less incentive to deliver the best possible service. I've been yelled at several times while talking to a customer service representative for no reason.
Evidently, in Holland, the customer is not always right.
The crime rate is very low.
Maybe it's because much of what is prohibited in other countries is legal here and easily accessible. The Netherlands is a very safe country.
On numerous occasions, I'd find myself walking back home at night. Not once did I feel like I was in danger. I wish I could say the same about San Francisco!
Most Dutch people speak English.
This makes it easy to get around. Whenever I'd attempt to speak Dutch, people would respond to me in English. In fact, the majority of Dutch people are fluent in English! They typically learn English very early on as a second language.
This was both good and bad: good because I had no difficulty communicating with the locals, and bad because there was no incentive for me to learn Dutch.
Which brings me to my next point...
It can be hard to blend in with the locals if you don't speak Dutch.
The Dutch tend to have closely knit communities of family and friends. Although they’re friendly towards expats, becoming part of their inner circle of friends can be quite a challenge.
If you truly want to fit in, you'll need to learn Dutch.
I learned Dutch primarily by using Rosetta Stone, which I found to be incredibly helpful as it uses pictures to convey Dutch words. I'm a visual learner, so the program proved to be very intuitive and instrumental in helping me learn the language.
People are very friendly.
If you look lost on the street, you have a flat tire, or an asteroid suddenly lands on top of you, people will flock to you and offer to help.
One time, I saw a man fall off his bike, and within seconds, strangers flocked to him offering assistance. Bystander mentality here? Not a chance.
2. Jobs, Employment, and Money
There are many expatriate jobs in the Netherlands for educated, English-speaking people.
I worked for Philips for nearly four years, and we primarily communicated in English. In fact, most of my colleagues were from Spain, Italy, England, India, etc., and could hardly speak Dutch.
If you’re seeking employment, definitely check out jobs in Amsterdam, Leiden, or other expat hubs, as that’s where most large, English-speaking, multinational companies are located.
Moving to the Netherlands without a job can be tough, but by networking and connecting to multinational companies, you should be able to get a job within 4–6 months.
If you're looking for a good place to start, Randstad is a Dutch multinational human resource consulting firm that helps expats get English-speaking jobs.
Workers get a month of paid vacation days.
Companies in the Netherlands provide an average of 30 days paid time off. Add that to the national holidays, and you're looking at over a month of paid vacation time (compare that to an average of 2 weeks of paid time off in the states!).
It's nearly impossible to get fired.
It’s almost impossible to get fired from a job in Holland because the Dutch system tends to support employees rather than employers. And even if you do get fired/laid off for whatever reason, you’ll receive unemployment benefits that can sustain you for months.
When I worked at Philips, several of my colleagues were laid off and they received 9 months of full-time paid unemployment.
The Netherlands is a pretty socialist country, in my opinion. You get a bunch of perks, but that comes at a cost:
You're going to pay HUGE income taxes.
If you make around 68,000 euros a year, you’ll likely end up paying more than 51% tax! The higher your income bracket, the more taxes you’ll have to pay.
Filing for taxes can also be a bit confusing as you have to go through the Dutch tax bureau (Belastingdienst), which can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Consider getting expat tax services from a reputable company to save you the hassle. Or have a local walk you through the process.
There are monthly road taxes.
Exorbitant road tax has to be paid no matter if you drive or not; simply owning a car means you have to pay at least 50 euros per month for using the roads.
Everything in Holland is done through online banking.
Paper checks are a thing of the past.
There is very affordable expat health insurance.
Since health insurance here is mandatory, there are many subsidies available for those with lower incomes. In the states, I paid $300 for minimum coverage health insurance; here I can get comprehensive coverage for as little as $95 euros.
There are high interest rates for credit cards.
It is almost impossible to get a credit card with no fees.
There are many universities in the Netherlands, and the education system is quite advanced.
I actually got my graduate degree from Utrecht University, a top university in Holland, and found the program to be very well structured and educational.
I did notice that the competition level among students here is lower compared to the United States. Students feel less need to prove their worth and intellectual capacity to others.
Student life is great.
There are many groups to join, lots of activities all the time, lots of partying, lots of socializing, and did I mention lots of partying? Whether you're Dutch or an American expat like me, life as a student in the Netherlands is never dull.
The government takes good care of its students by offering them generous financial aid packages.
You can take up to 10 years to pay off your loans, which generally have a low interest rate (think 3–5%).
The weather can be unpredictable.
One second the sun is shining, the next it's pouring cats and dogs. This drove me crazy!
The number of sunshine hours in Holland is on the lower end compared to the states. That's because the climate there is moderate maritime, making the summers quite mild.
You can expect clouds, rain, sleet, hail, sun, and wind—oftentimes on the same day!
The summer days are very long.
In July, it doesn't get dark until 10 pm! My friends and I enjoyed many beautiful summer nights on restaurant terraces sipping wine and having a nice chat.
The bread is amazing.
There are dozens of bakeries in Holland that make fresh-baked, delicious, and affordable bread. Toast never tasted so good!
The dairy products are excellent.
The yogurt here is amazing, and so is the cheese. A lot of the dairy comes from organic farms, too.
The herring is delicious.
Or haring, as they call it here. There are many fish trucks all over the country that sell haring and other fish snacks. Haring is eaten raw, and it's amazing. It’s also full of Omega-3s!
There's a limited selection of decent Asian restaurants.
Craving sushi? It’s way overpriced here, and the quality is mediocre. However, there's a delicious Korean BBQ place in The Hague. If you're in town, you've got to visit Seoul Garden!
Portion sizes are small.
Good for your waistline, bad for your wallet.
The tap water is excellent.
The tap water is the best quality in Europe, hands down. Plus, the Dutch don't fluoridate their water, which is a great thing if you're health conscious.
You have to pay for water at restaurants.
You can't simply ask for a cup of tap water (unless you want to get weird looks from your waiter or waitress, that is!). You're obliged to pay for the expensive, bottled kind, which can run around 2–3 euros.
There are tons of unique restaurants.
You won't find a ton of restaurant chains in Holland. The Dutch celebrate local, unique restaurants that have a story to tell.
And you'll never run into those fake candles that some American restaurants place on tables. The experience of eating at Dutch restaurants is always unique, and, as the Dutch say, gezellig.
The Dutch have become more health conscious.
There are three health food stores around the corner from where I used to live that sell fresh, organic produce. There are lots of great farmer's markets too.
There are fantastic seasonal sales.
During the sale season, you can buy a decent-quality top from H&M for 5 euros—that is, if you're into fast fashion.
During the non-sale season, clothes and shoes can be VERY expensive.
Don’t expect to pay anything less than 40 euros for a good top. As for shoes, everything is at least 50 euros and above.
If you opt for cheap and buy a pair of sneakers for 20 euros, I guarantee the sole will fall apart after a month of use. I bought a cheap pair of pumps, and the heel fell off after the second time I wore them. I had to walk heel-less back home, which was pretty embarrassing, to say the least.
Unless you're in the Amsterdam shopping area, most stores close at 6 pm during weekdays and weekends.
To top it off, many stores are not open at all on Sundays.
Prices in the Netherlands always include tax.
The value added tax (VAT) is added to the price of pretty much any good or service you'll come across in the Netherlands. While the price is higher up front, it's nice to know exactly how much you'll have to pay right from the get-go.
Most people use reusable tote bags.
In the Netherlands, plastic bags are a thing of the past!
You have to pack your own grocery bags.
No one will pack your grocery bags for you here—you've got to do it all by yourself!
Grocery shopping on your bike can be a hassle.
This is especially true in the winter. Unless you have a car, you'll have to carry your groceries back home on your bike. Think about it: bikes, icy roads, foggy, crazy drivers. Need I say more?
7. Getting Around and Traveling
Everything is within walking distance.
This is especially so if you live close to the city center. It was about a 5-minute walk from my house to get to the movie theater and to all the shops in town.
Schiphol airport is incredible.
Schiphol airport is one of the cleanest, largest airports I've ever encountered. It also features the first airport museum (2002), the first airport library (2010), and the first inside "airport park" (2011), which makes for one of the best airport experiences you'll ever have.
More importantly, it connects you to almost every major city in the world, and it offers no shortage of cheap flights to and from the United States.
Dutch cities are bike friendly.
You’ll end up having to buy a bike to get around. A car is really not necessary if you have a bike and have access to public transportation.
Riding a bike is also great for your health! I ended up losing weight, and my legs got toned simply because I was riding my bike every day.
There is excellent public transportation.
There's no shortage of transportation options—trains, trams, metros, horses, etc.
Trains can be unreliable.
This is especially so during the winter. On one fateful autumn day, the train I was supposed to take to Amsterdam was cancelled because there were too many leaves on the track. I kid you not.
The paved roads are immaculate
You don't have to worry about driving through a pothole in Holland . . . there aren't any! The country has one of the most advanced motorway systems in the world.
The asphalt is porous, so when it rains, the water will actually drain into the asphalt, thereby preventing the water from splashing up and distracting your driving.
The parking is terrible.
The roads are small and narrow, so parking is a nuisance. If you're visiting a friend, good luck finding a decent parking spot that isn't miles away from their house.
Traffic fines are expensive.
Imagine getting a parking ticket that costs more than 100 euros. In the Netherlands, this is the norm.
Buying a car can be expensive.
It seems like nothing sells for less than 25,000 euros.
There is poor air quality in some spots.
Because it's oftentimes so cloudy here, pollution tends to settle over the land. It also seems like the Dutch have no regulations on moped or scooter emissions.
As a result, jogging or even biking can be pretty unbearable, unless you enjoy the tingly feeling of car and motorcycle fumes permeating your lungs. Jogging in places away from busy cities is always the best option.
The country lags behind in terms of sustainability.
In 2014, only 5.5% of energy in Holland was produced from sustainable sources. Compare that to other countries like Sweden who derive almost half of their energy supply from sustainable sources.
The cost of living here is comparable to major cities in the United States.
In many cases, the cost of living in Amsterdam is actually a little higher. That makes sense, since it’s a large and densely populated city.
8. News / TV
Holland has excellent, unbiased news channels.
NOS Journal is Holland's primary news channel, and their coverage of local as well as global news is great. It usually lasts for about half an hour, but trust me, you'll walk away with more knowledge about current global events than if you watched three hours of CNN.
The NOS Journal focuses only on important news and seems to be unbiased.
Now I’d Like to Hear From You
What do you think about living in the Netherlands as an American expat?
Make sure to comment below and let me know what you think. I will continually update this list to ensure it's relevant.
- Government of the Netherlands
- US Embassy & Consulate in the Netherlands
- Netherlands Travel Advisory
- COVID-19 Travel Advisory
- Starting a Business in the Netherlands
- Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in the USA
- Dutch National Institute of Public Health
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have any advice for retirees who don’t want to work? I just want to collect social security/pensions and enjoy my “golden years”?
Answer: The Netherlands is the perfect place for this. They have great healthcare, and security for everyone.
Question: What are the choices and cost of housing in the Netherlands?
Answer: Varies widely, depending on if you want to live in a densely populated city like Amsterdam, or something smaller like Leiden (20 mins by train to Amsterdam). I recommend choosing a smaller city, but it's your call.
Question: I am retired and may only want to live in Amsterdam for three to six months out the year. Is that reasonable?
Answer: I believe three months is the maximum allowed stay for certain visas.
Question: How do locals treat black Americans in Holland?
Answer: Pretty accepting. However, if you try to connect to the locals, it's much harder to become part of their "inner" circle, but that applies to most foreigners in Holland.
Question: I have been thinking about where I want to live as a retired senior. Although I am not retired yet, would you recommend the Netherlands for someone who is looking to change career paths after retirement?
Answer: It all depends. Think about what you are hoping to do after you retire. The Netherlands can be a very peaceful, and secure place for retirees. They have great healthcare.
Question: Do doctors in the Netherlands speak English?
Answer: Yes they do - the majority at least.
Question: Do I have to learn Dutch to live in the Netherlands?
Answer: No, not if you live in a multinational city like Amsterdam. In general, everyone speaks pretty good English so you can get around just fine without knowing a word of Dutch. However, if you're trying to live in the Netherlands, it will be important to learn Dutch so that you can integrate into the culture.
Question: What Healthcare services are there in Middelburg, Netherlands?
Answer: The healthcare service level of the Netherlands as a whole is great, so I'm assuming Middleburg is just fine.
© 2010 Ella Moore
catherinebadin on September 05, 2020:
hello! I visited Amsterdam in 1970 and it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! I have a few questions about possibly moving to Amsterdam which were not covered in your article:
1. I am over 65 and don't think I want to ride a bike. If I move to Central Amsterdam, say the Jordaan or De Pijp.. can I walk everywhere?
2. If I receive monies monthly from my U.S. account and do not work in the City, would I still need to pay Netherland taxes?
3. as an expat, would I be required to purchase health insurance?
4. Is Netherlands allowing U.S. citizens to visit yet?
5. How many months does it snow there?
thank you so much for answering my questions!
Tyler on September 01, 2020:
This was amazing, thank you!
Keith on September 01, 2020:
I am a professional artist in traditional arts. I would love to stay for around three months time. Would there be opportunities available for me working in the arts in the Netherlands?
Nikki on August 24, 2020:
To get a job there would I apply first or get a work visa first? I don’t know how that works.
Patrick on August 09, 2020:
My wife and I moved from the states to Stadskanaal last year. I am an American and my wife is Dutch. We Love living here but are having a hard time meeting people like ourselves. My wife is a retired teacher and a writer. I too am retired. There are not not many American expats in this area. We are rather non-conformists who gravitate towards open mined, creative, down to earth people. We would like to meet similar minded people expats and Dutch.
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on August 01, 2020:
Hi everyone, just wanted thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Although I can't personally reply to all of you, your comments are creating a great conversation online. Continue to share your thoughts, tips, and insights! I'm also learning a lot from you!
Marta Ferrero on July 21, 2020:
How arrogant some of you sound in here. You think that you can just march into Europe and settled like that? We have strong restriction. And just like when someone goest to the USA and must learn English, you must also learn Dutch so you can fit in. I am from Spain and speak 5 languages, yet people from the USA can't learn a second language at all but expect to find what you want in English. Spain gave you the USA yet you destroyed it with all your wars around the world. Wish we have kept a great chunk of the USA instead of selling it so cheap. Also right now Europeans dont want any Yanks due to the virus and most places actually love North Americans but hate your president Trump.Visiting is not the same as living in Europe.
Sara on July 20, 2020:
Hi there, I am Dutch and ‘doe eens normaal’ doesn’t mean ‘don’t be unique‘ AT ALL. When someone is being unreasonable with you, you might say: ‘doe eens normal’ - meaning ‘act normal’.
Viviane Laanen on July 10, 2020:
I left when 17 still Family but I now think it is the best place to grow old
Don’t know why
Joseph Peters on July 02, 2020:
I was born in The Netherlands. I left when I was 7 and am now a US citizen. Will it be easier for me to retire there?
Luuk on April 03, 2020:
Mostly accurate my appologies in advance for any misspronounciations
Even if i spelled that one wrong.
A lot off these comments are pretty spot on.
Except there is a signifficant difference between the towns in the north and the south.
Amsterdam(is used to tourists)( is higly drug related tourism ) they may make you feel like a cultural expierence but it's not hospitallity is found in the south eindhoven den bosch or tilburg
Ben on March 15, 2020:
I am an american and I lived in Uden Netherlands for 9 years. Living in The Netherlands permanently can be quite a challenge. I advise anyone looking to do so to visit ind.nl as marrying someone does not guarantee your stay. Learning Dutch is actually a requirement as you will go through inburgeringscursus. Which is school to teach you the language, culture, etc etc. And pretty much get used to the word buitenlander ( forienger) with all that you do.
Iris Mathewson-Shah on February 23, 2020:
At 50 I retired in USA and went to work in Maastricht for a Dutch company and loved it. I was there just under two years. It’s a beautiful area with beautiful people. I love it and would love to move back for much of the year.
Kathy S Cassity on February 12, 2020:
I am looking to retire to the Netherlands (Leiden) in 2021. I will be collecting social security. Do the Netherlands have a minimum requirement of income in order to live there? Can I simply have my U.S. social security benefits direct deposited into a bank account and live off of that? Also, will the Netherlands accept Medicare? Thanks!
Stanley krzanowski on January 24, 2020:
Are they a gay friendly country?
Catherine on January 19, 2020:
How did you transfer your retirement savings back to the US?
Néamh on January 03, 2020:
I'm sorry but even the small villages in the east have stores open on Sundays, and evenings.
Garbage drain is not true as well, most houses do have it. Shit happens if you pick an old home in Leiden which doesn't count for the majority.
You stage at least 50 euros monthly in road tax? Really? What kind of car you have? I've been living here for 24 years now and I never had to pay more than 120 quarterly.
All people advised to do some sufficient research before regarding this article as truth.
Alex on December 26, 2019:
What are the requirements for bringing pets from the United States?
Francis Scott on November 12, 2019:
Hi, I am looking at a 6 month to 1 year assignment with my company in the Netherlands. I need to figure out what the rules and limitations are around being a US Expat there. I will continued to be paid my US salary so I need to know if there are limitations on my time there (hence 6 months to a year) and if, when and what are the tax implications. Can you point me to a document contains the rules and limitation of a US Expat in the Netherlands? Thanks.
Cat on November 05, 2019:
It's ironic that a country known for its windmills is behind in sustainable energy.
Tarient on October 24, 2019:
Do you have any recommendations on Dutch news channels/websites that are in English? I live here now so I feel like I need to stay in touch with the news here but I don’t know Dutch!
Marian on October 23, 2019:
What type of Visa do I need to get if I want to live in Amsterdam permanently and I get a disability check every month? I can't work.
Augustin on October 05, 2019:
I will be retiring in April. I have a friend that lives in the Hague. I’ll be moving there to live permanently. What do I need to do. On an average, how much money would I need monthly to live there.
Julie Kiefer on September 21, 2019:
We are considering moving to the Netherlands from the US for one year. We have 3 school age children and are considering either Eindhoven or Utrecht to live. Do you have any opinions on what we should consider between the two?
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on July 24, 2019:
So a lot of people are asking about retiring in the Netherlands. As far as I know, the same rules apply - you need to get a visa, or marry a citizen to be able to stay. Here's more info:
f you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, you have the right to live in and retire in the Netherlands. Similarly, spouses and relatives of EEA and Swiss citizens can normally get a visa though an easy route. If you are not an EEA or Swiss citizen, you may need a visa. If you are not an EEA or Swiss citizen or a family member of one, you will need to apply for a permanent resident visa. You can normally do this when you have been resident in the Netherlands for five consecutive years. For more information about visas and immigration, see here
Lee Cryer on July 22, 2019:
This relates to the questions on Americans retiring to the Netherlands. Is this even possible legally? I don't see anything on the Netherlands immigration site about retirement being an acceptable reason to get a visa to live there. Thanks.
cheryl D siegel on July 21, 2019:
Are there restrictions for bringing pets into the Netherlands? I am an
American, retired of independent means , would I have only a certain
number of months to be allowed to live there or can I move there
Thank you so much.
Allison on July 02, 2019:
How did you get a loan for your university?
Nydia Hinson on June 18, 2019:
Hi, I'm already retired, can u buy a townhouse or maybe if they have condos over there? Is it expensive to buy property, in case i want to stay and live there. Where can i find more information about the Netherlands for the near future? I don't want to bother u with all my questions.... Thanks.... Nydia
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on May 30, 2019:
They have all modern amenities, which are even more advanced than the ones in the states. I'd say they're pretty comparable in terms of prices. They have various cell phone providers. I used to have Vodafone which worked just fine. In terms of movies, I think they're pretty much all in English.
Elisabeth Acquaire from New York, NY on May 27, 2019:
I noticed nobody asked these questions . Do they have cable tv or internet providers and are they expensive compared to the US. What about cellphone providers? Do movie theaters have American movies or just Dutch movies?
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on May 22, 2019:
Hi Jen, I am actually familiar with Sittard. It's a very quiet and picturesque place. I think the Netherlands would be a wonderful place for retirement. It's a very safe country that really takes care of its people.
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on May 22, 2019:
Hi Tammi, I believe service dogs are allowed in the Netherlands. Take a look here, as it provides more info about this: https://assistancedogsinternational.org/access-and...
Tammi Simon on May 20, 2019:
I currently live in ohio, usa. Looking for a drastic change. I have a service dog. What are your guidelines? Im our ADA laws are different.
Iris Mathewson on April 21, 2019:
I worked for a Dutch company in maastricht twenty years ago after retiring in USA. I loved it and am considering living there 6 months/year and mostly interested in what to do about health insurance.
cavediggity on March 20, 2019:
Thank you for taking the time to put this information together. Some very valuable insight here for someone looking to make the move!
Jen Cromer on March 12, 2019:
I see I'm not the only one that wants to retire in the Netherlands! I would love to buy a little place in Sittard (a place I fell in love with last year) to visit on holiday while I work now; and then retire there in my golden years.
JD on March 10, 2019:
In the process of retiring after 30+ years medical military/government service and very much want to return to my original family heritage homeland. I still have desire and spunk to interact with the community and help anyone. I am so sad on how USA is evolving into a confusion of political incompetence. I am seeking the old world style of life. I really think The winds are blowing me to Netherlands.
kevin on February 20, 2019:
how is the medical?
Louisa Loesje on February 17, 2019:
Great article about the Netherlands and on point! I was born and raised in Utrecht, moved to the US when 28 I lost my Dutch citizenship when accepted US and worked for US government. Visit NL very often my parents, siblings still reside there. I am considering moving back to NL because I am homesick and miss being around my family..anyone with advise how this paperwork/immigration process works please let me know.
Kenneth blackistone on January 22, 2019:
I would love to move there but I only get SSI I am a white guy 50 year's old just wanted to find a good woman to love n have a great time with
SFO67MAN on January 16, 2019:
How does a US citizen get the right to work in the EU? I travel there from US average of 6 times a year, so may as well move there! My company does have offices in most major EU cities, but will not sponsor US residents to work there.
Joe Black on January 15, 2019:
I am considering a move to Leiden for a new job. In your experience, would a 55k euro salary, be a sufficient salary for a 2 member family (no kids), to be able to live a simple but better-than-frugal- lifestyle (cook at home, liquor/wine/beer seldom, limited shopping, using public transport, etc) and still save ~2000 euro per month? Regards!
Khadijaely on November 22, 2018:
Great article and good info.
Myself 50 yrs ol, I have been born and raised in in The Netherlands and been to the State many, many times and have many friends in the USA.
If any enyone needs advice or help here in Holland please let me know.
Would be great to have friends as well.
Wish everyone good day and a lot off luck.
Leann on October 23, 2018:
Great article!! You did such an amazing job hitting all the points. We are from Leiden and moving back soon with our US born kids. Love the foto in the boat on the Rijn - I just had coffee at that little barge cafe a few weeks ago. Nice.
Owena Kauhane on September 27, 2018:
Hi Claude Issa,
I am an American living in the Netherlands and my husband and mother-in-law own a salon. We are always looking for experienced employees. When will you be arriving?
Claude Issa on September 10, 2018:
I’m a hairdresser in Usa I like to move to holland for working over there .is any website to apply for job or a websites to buy a hair salon."
Liz Westwood from UK on September 04, 2018:
This is a fascinating article, especially as I am planning a trip to Amsterdam soon and will be spending some time in Leiden. I was surprised about the sustainability figures, as I noticed a lot of wind turbines on my way into the Hook of Holland port from the UK last time I was in the Netherlands a few years ago.
interval on July 24, 2018:
Was in Amsterdam Nov. 2016 for a few days, sightseeing and to attend a concert by an American band who happened to have a stop there at that time. Heineken Music Hall is a fabulous venue btw. I absolutely loved it, but it is expensive. I found the Dutch people (at least in Amsterdam) to be pretty friendly, for the most part, and seemed to know I was American (or at least an English speaker) just by looking at me, which I found interesting. They're people, just like everyone else and some have time to be helpful, some don't.
Lots of English and even Irish (I'm an Irish American) pubs there so that's kind of nice.
Now I'm entertaining the possibility of actually moving there for work, I've got skills that are in short supply there, so finding work isn't my problem. What I will want to do is hook up with the expat community, so that sounds good as well. I'm a widower, wondering what the possibility of finding love is there.
Djoke Steen on July 23, 2018:
Very much enjoyed your article. I am a former Dutch person, now an American, living in California for the last 30 years. My husband and I are thinking of moving to Friesland. How can I get in touch with any Americans living in Friesland?
marcel buquet on June 26, 2018:
Your report was very interesting and accurate.Reading the report was very entertaining. Besides the haring, you should try croquettes with french fries and mustard. A beer is great with it too. The really good ones are made with horse meat. I am from the city of Rotterdam. We do not speak to those from Amsterdam and they do not speak to us. What I notice is that it is an expensive country to visit. Being from The Netherlands, I have family and friends and friends where I can stay and that at least, reduces the price of my stay, because I do not need a hotel If you are just visiting, go to knmi.nl and you can get the average temperature and rain fall for the month(s) that you want to visit.
Sarthy Sampath on June 05, 2018:
As in American for 30 years, I will be arriving soon in Amsterdam; I could like to know the pros and cons of living in Netherland
Duke on May 08, 2018:
Hey! I totally enjoyed your accounts about Holland. Hopefully i get to visit there one day! One thing i've noticed is that you didn't mention anything about dating. Whats that like living abroad, specifically Holland?
Walk In The Hills on May 04, 2018:
Hi. I am from the states and am considering attending Utecht University. I have a 50 lb short hair hound dog who will need to come with me. Does anyone have personal experience renting an apartment with a large dog and/or what to expect when having a dog in Utecht? Thanks.
isildur25 on March 11, 2018:
hey people, i live in the netherlands, and here is my take on things.
if you have great technical skills i would recommend coming here and live as an expat, because the netherlands has a huge shortage on electricians and IT related jobs like java devellopers. There is also plenty of room for good plummers. If you dont have a great set of skills it can be hard to get a nice job here as an english speaking person. Best thing always, is to connect with other expats before coming here, to get good jobs and cheap living space. Also dont hesitate asking a dutch person to help you with your stay, they are quite nice and helpful if they like and trust you.
Right now the most coolest cities here in my view are Amsterdam and Rotterdam for different reasons which i will explain later. Because the biggest 5 cities in the netherlands are very popular places to live in, they are getting very expensive because of demand ,espacially amsterdam housing prizes are getting insane.
About Amsterdam: Great city, very expensive, but very vibrant and growing rapidly every year in number of citizens because they build a lot. avoid places to live in around areas like the ''kalverstraat'' and the red light district because they are very noisy because of drunk tourists and not very authentic because of the solely focus on mass tourism. instead focus more on neighberhoods like ''de pijp'' and the ''indische buurt" and areas in the west. those are neighberhoods just outside the absolute center, but have really cool old and typical old amsterdam way of architecture that i like alot.
A negative about amsterdam would be the cost of housing and too much beer tourists that come over from places like germany and england and are just there to get drunk and walk trough the red light district.
About rotterdam: Rotterdam is a multicultural city and very up and coming with a unique skyline along the river with its three main bridges. Most of the city center is quite new because of the german bommings in the second world war, but because of it,, there is now a good eclectic mix of post war and new architecture and old buildings pre war. The city also has some really old neighberhoods outside the city center which are gentrifying quite rapidly now one by one because the city got so popular the last five years. Cool places to live in rotterdam are around the ''nieuwe binnenweg'' ''katendrecht'' ''the cool neighberhood''(yes, cool is actually a neighberhood in rotterdam but pronounced differently in dutch) and around museum park. and along the maas river.
The cool thing about rotterdam (apart from the skyline that changes every year with several new sky scrapers,,) is that you get the vibe your in a big city when you're walking around in the center. And also that its still way more affordable then amsterdam and less mass tourism.
The downside is, that apart from areas like ''de meent'' and ''witte de with straat and ''oude haven, is that its a bit quiet in the evening in large parts of the city center, because those parts are solely focused on shopping or offices.
Utrecht, the hague, maastricht, eindhoven are all nice and very popular places to live here and are also growing quickly in numbers. they all are quite big student cities and because of it they have many bars and restaurants like amsterdam and rotterdam. If you like old architectural cities you have alot of choice in the netherlands like, utrecht, maastricht, leiden,deventer,haarlem, delft, dordrecht and many more.
despite of all this, i like amsterdam and rotterdam the most because of how those cities make me feel.
Austin on March 06, 2018:
I want to move to the Netherlands can anyone give advice?
Kareema on February 05, 2018:
NkN on January 30, 2018:
I have been in south Holland for over a year because of my husbands job and while there are many nice things about the Netherlands (close proximity to other European countrues is the biggest) i have to say the novelty is wearing off. The people are friendly but arent interested in becoming your friends. You can invite them over for coffee or dinner or drinks but it never gets reciprocated. I took a class with several dutch persons but at break they will only speak dutch even though they know you dont understand. The other thing that drives me crazy is having to buy water at a restaurant and having to pay to use the toilet.
Damien Holland on January 17, 2018:
I lived as an American expat there for 8 years up until October 2017 and I agree with most of what you said except a few things:
Great fashion sense? Like their hair styles their clothing choices are completely haphazard -- totally oblivious to size, color, the weather outside, etc. As with food, such as two pieces of bread and a slice of cheese being considered 'lunch', they simply don't care. Or sometimes a group of them are together wearing the exact same outfit. Brown and grey were still the most common colors I saw in the clothing and shoe shops after 8 years of being there. Compared to every other country I've ever known this is the one country that totally doesn't care about clothing style.
Getting an English speaking job, even if you're educated, is horribly, horribly difficult unless you're a highly skilled migrant or you're looking to clean hotels or pick flowers, for example, at close to minimum wage. Nearly every single job that says "English speaker", on every single website I checked while searching for a job which took me an entire year to land, has "must speak Dutch" in it (better yet they want trilinguals now -- Dutch/English/and German or French). Your best bet is to find a call center but I found that most of them pay you close to minimum wage and only give 3 contracts before letting you go to avoid having to give the 4th contract (no job stability -- every few years you're fighting to get a new job again -- unless you agree to a much more stressful position at the next higher level and with minimal increase in pay). And before anyone says learning the language will get you a job there are various burning hoops and walls for those that learned the language as well (your level of Dutch isn't 'native', for example). Any other American who has had to go through countless interviews and get rejected endlessly like I did knows what I'm talking about -- the job market for English only speakers is a beast.
But on everything else you wrote I agree.
Atolagbe Riliwan Ade on January 17, 2018:
Information is power. Thank you
Lourdes Rios on December 22, 2017:
I'm a Hispanic female, born & raised in Brooklyn NY... I had my daughter early, worked very hard, in 2011, I was taken out of my 17 yrs in the casino business, I believe life is so short, and this is something I would love to do... God will guide me...
W D on December 13, 2017:
I am Dutch, & would like to learn the language. Plus, trying to do research to move over there, some where.
KP on November 30, 2017:
Can't wait to get there! It's been 46 years since I lived there as an expat kid. Now I get to do it again as an expat adult!
Sandie on October 16, 2017:
I have lived in Singapore, Osaka Japan, Vancouver Canada and now the Netherlands. I hate to say this but NL is by far the worst country that I have lived in. Many of the points you made in your post is relatable if one is looking at Amsterdam. But NL is not just Amsterdam. I live in the south, in a city call Den Bosch. What I can safely say about NL is that the people are generally unhelpful and rude. For example, when the train comes, everyone tries to squeeze in and doesn’t stand in line. No one would help you unless you ask for help. Taxes are ridiculously high. I cannot believe that they would still tax my savings locally (any amount about 25k) as well as my assets overseas and that I would still need to pay monthly health insurance despite the high taxes I had already paid!
To those who are considering moving to NL, please try Germany. Germans may not speak good English but it’s generally cheaper to live there and people can be more helpful even though they don’t speak English. It’s also a bigger country with mountains and beautiful nature. I visit Germany weekly for work. It’s really a nicer country to live in.
Yuli on October 04, 2017:
I wonder what would you suggest to bring to Amsterdam from US when moving. New company is paying for big container so I wonder if there anything I should stock up on and bring with us to Amsterdam?
Zhao Zhou on July 12, 2017:
Really enjoyed your story about living here. Liked how you compared The Netherlands with the US. I'm glad you're enjoying living here! :D
Steve on June 30, 2017:
I forgot to add... on a positive note... the healthcare system has U.S. beat hands down... as far as value goes.... and the dentists there in Netherlands are fantastic....!! They actually care!
Steve on June 30, 2017:
My us dollar goes twice as far in U.S. as in the Netherlands... not to mention the exchange rate... which never stays the same for more than several days in a row. And, if you like "small"...Holland is for you. VAT tax is a killer!
Jenn C on June 27, 2017:
I love holland, my whole family visited our family there in Rotterdam during Christmas and new year 2017 and they took us everywhere. We went to Belgium, France and Germany. We really like it a lot, if we were given a chance to live there. I would love to try it. The only hard adjustment for us will be house, because most of the house there is small compared to the houses here in US. But I love everything about Holland, looking forward to go back and visit again maybe in 2 years. My Son who is 4 years old learned to speak Dutch for a short period of time. So cute....
Maggie on June 26, 2017:
Thanks for writing this article! It answered most of my questions about living in Netherlands, as I plan to escape Asia and come back to Europe.
Mario on June 23, 2017:
Very nice article, the rent on a student loan is only 0.5 up to 1%
Kate Morgan on June 11, 2017:
I visited Amsterdam for one short day on my way from northern France to Germany last year and fell in love with all things Dutch. I'm not sure how I would make living there as a retiree on a fixed income but one can dream. I found the people friendly, I loved the culture, I even loved the climate. Found this article extremely interesting and informative thank you for posting it.
Julianna on May 21, 2017:
Looking for a place to retire, like a few of the others who have posted recently, and The Netherlands is moving up the list. The more I read, the more it sounds like "me." (And I would be interested even if I didn't have some Dutch ancestry!) Really like the idea of being able to walk, bike or take public transport virtually anywhere. The car-centrism in US is getting worse not better. And as a petite person, being served small portions would be a welcome change: eating out is generally a wasteful experience for me. Looking forward to continuing my research.
Cary Wallace on May 09, 2017:
great , comprehensive and truthful account of what it's like to be an american living in holland. the biggest challenge for me was always being in a group as learning the language isn't easy. however i'm trying.
JoAnn. Rel on April 07, 2017:
Not for me. I live in New Mexico. Got to have that sun.
Onyeka Anyanaso on March 16, 2017:
Thank you for this! I plan on moving to Amsterdam once I get my degree and I really want to know as much as I can.
Aman Paul on March 13, 2017:
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Anna on February 24, 2017:
Great information. This was very informative. Good things to know know before you move.
jeanne ploetz on February 07, 2017:
My husband and I will be visiting the Netherlands in 9/2018. I have ancestors who left there for America many years ago and hope to find out more about them if possible. They left from Leiden. Any advice about whom I might contact for geneology research? Thanks, Jeanne
jhoke4519 on February 05, 2017:
Hello! I'm new to this. But thought I see if I could find some information. I have a daughter that would like to move and study in The Netherlands. We live in the US and she is a Junior. She has two interest Art and Culinary. I appreciate any information. TY!
surfside on January 30, 2017:
Do many of the women in Utrecht look like supermodels and are they friendly to Americans. I'm thinking about leaving southern California to find some genuine, friendly and pretty girls that are not phony, demanding and stuck on themselves. Hope the NL is the place.
Drew on January 14, 2017:
Thank you for this highly informative piece. I hope to some day visit the Netherlands and, perhaps, SOME DAY move there if I like it. It seems to mesh very well with my ideal living environment.
Kind of strange about the lack of sustainable energy thing though! Aren't the Dutch known for their windmills? lol
Aakash Agarwal on January 09, 2017:
Say company offering relocation and i have a choice to make between States (CA/Texas/North Carolina) or Amsterdam or London I am from India I have been to states but not to these places :) when company gives relocation they normally works on PR in states (initially move you on L1) I have never seen whoever left ever coming back. How is it if you were to choose from States to Amsterdam for example? I know tax rates are high - What i am looking at is to save bucks in case i don't feel good and I plan to return back (though i would be stuck atleast 3-4 years) or if i plan to settle down there. I don't have any dependent, have parents but have brother who can look after.
Chiara on January 04, 2017:
Judging from the responses here...apparently the Dutch are very defensive :D
gracekay on January 03, 2017:
@kathy and wayne k: I'm also in the later stages of my traditional career and am very open to a new career and lifestyle. What I don't know how to do is pursue employment opportunities in The Netherlands - any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Kathy on December 19, 2016:
Wayne K -- you pretty much describe my situation, except I am older and female. I look forward to the replies you receive. I am firmly in retirement mode.
Wayne K on December 15, 2016:
Gabby, thanks for a great site. I read every comment and I appreciated the vast majority of them. I want to give a special shout out to Linda Casey’s comments which is posted a few commentaries above mine and let me add her opinion is not only true concerning The Netherlands and but probably true everywhere else on this planet. I’ve known natives of The Netherlands who moved to the US and haven’t formed any stereotypes of them. One was this way, the other was the opposite. I find people are people regardless of anything else and have more in common than might seem the case at first glance.
A little about myself and what I’m looking for which is different than what anybody else here opined and/or suggested. I am a thoroughly American male who is getting close to retirement. I live alone without dependents. I’m a native of New York who moved to Philadelphia more than 20 years ago. When I read comments about The Netherlands lacking customer service and rudeness, yup, I can relate. I’m NOT saying that I know that’s true since I’ve never been there but I come from that environment. The American expression is “having an attitude” and I can definitely have one at times. Large American cities (especially New York and Philadelphia) are gruff, tough, cold and grey however one needs that attitude to survive there. You’ll find people who are jerks everywhere however you will also meet some of the nicest people in those very same cities. Let me add that America is incredibly diverse and different regions are as different as night and day and that is not mentioning that we have more immigrants from more places than anywhere else (or at the very least it’s a tie). Accents, slang, nuances, mentalities, social tendencies vary intensely throughout the US. We are great and we suck which often changes on a daily basis. Is Amsterdam and its’ inhabitants the same as the countryside and its’ residents? In large part that is up to the individual and the way things are dealt with.
Now on to business……at present I live in a small apartment and have very little saved and will get a small pension along with a small social security benefit once I decide to retire. I am thinking about emigrating and would love to know how somebody in my situation would fare in the Netherlands. Sad to say I have never traveled to anywhere outside of North America however I am incredibly flexible and as long as I have food, clothing and shelter I will be just fine. Anything more is gravy. I am shopping for a country in the event I do decide to emigrate (at least one that wouldn’t mind having an aging hippie occupying a little space). Would somebody reading this give feedback? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
nlattery on November 16, 2016:
Thank you very much for sharing this amazing summary. We are considering a move, we have a son who is 14, and we are in our 50's. We would love a new cultural experience, and my husband's company is based out of Rotterdam. We believe that living away from the US will make us better, stronger, and happier. I am sure it will be harder at times, and we will miss our close friends/family from the US, but what we will gain is life changing.
Ella Moore (author) from Sunny California! on November 15, 2016:
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments about life in the Netherlands as an expat. Although I don't personally respond to each comment, I do read them, so keep the comments coming. Your insights are helping others make more informed decisions. Let's keep the conversation going!
mary on November 02, 2016:
Please understand that while Vermeer was painting, the United States was just beginning. We are a young, vast country. Our people come from independent, hard working settlers. Big government does not appeal to me. That is not who we are.
Alex on October 20, 2016:
Thank you very much for such a great post!
My wife and I (Naturalized US citizens) went on our EU honeymoon (got back 2 weeks ago). We stayed in Amsterdam for 5 days and completely fell in love with the city and its occupants!
We were already thinking to immigrate to EU for about a year. Now that we've seen Amsterdam, we want to find the way to settle in this city.
So I have a question: will opening a franchise restaurant help us with the residency and naturalization?
About us: Male, 41 yo, Master’s degree, HR professional. Female, 31 yo, BA (IT related), Business Analyst.
To open up a Subway restaurant (we have enough cash) not so much to make profit but to have an opportunity to relocate to Amsterdam and eventually Naturalize.
So this is what we have came up with. But if you have any other ideas, please share with us hence we are very serious about the move.
PS. In this trip we visited Netherlands, Spain, and Italy but we fell instantly in love with Dutch people and culture.
Liser on June 20, 2016:
My fiancé is Dutch and from The Hague - we would like to get married and I would like to move to the Netherlands.
Is there any way for me to get advice on how to do this?
Denise on February 14, 2016:
Your post was really helpful and encouraging as I am thinking about moving to Amsterdam with my boyfriend! Can you share your experience working abroad and what it was like at Philips? I am in the process of searching for opportunities, however it has been difficult doing so from the states. I would appreciate any advice/insight you can share!
Em on February 06, 2016:
Hi, interesting to read about holland from an American perspective. I agree that it is a rather safe country and well kept. It also has a good social safety net many countries should imitate. I also think that the word "service " doesn't exist in the Dutch vocabulary. Horrible! On other points though I cannot agree. Dutch sense of fashion?! Are you kidding? As an Italian, I think the Dutch are among the worst dressed people. Every day in jeans and sneakers, messy hair... I am always surprised to go to work meetings and find people dressed as if they were in their living room! Healthcare? Perhaps it is gold for an American but as a European I find the insurance system expensive and not friendly. It is all about this "non interventionist" approach, pushed for by insurance companies themselves, so unless you get really really sick you will be just st told by the doctor 's secretary to take paracetamol for any problem. If your doctor isn't very good you are basically screwed because you are not allowed to see a specialist unless your gp says so.Screening is almost non existent (a smear test every 5 years?!) so you pay taxes and insurance and never see the doctor ( side note, the doctors in me town only work from 8 to 5...)
Iris on November 11, 2015:
My name's Iris, I'm Dutch and I've just started a Premaster Program in preparation for a North American Studies Master at Radboud University Nijmegen. I would love the opportunity to practice and (hopefully ;) improve my English fluency with Americans living in the area who are around my age (27) and who'd be interested in a language exchange (of course I'd be more than happy to assist you with learning/practicing Dutch!)
Feel free to send me an e-mail! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
p.s. even though I'm studying in Nijmegen, I actually live near Den Bosch so if you're from that area that'd be great too!
jgoldSEA on October 24, 2015:
Very interesting points of view throughout this thread. I have only visited the Netherlands as a tourist four or five times. I really loved my time there and my wife and I have decided to make a move to Amsterdam in about two years time. My wife is German and we lived in Berlin together for about two years. I really did not enjoy my time there as I found the German job market not too friendly to non Deutch speaking foreigners. We were not married at the time so it was difficult for me to get permission to work let alone find a job. We now live in Seattle and are just tired of the crazy inflation in cost of living and housing market, its out of control. Anyway... We plan on moving to Holland with hopes of myself opening a pilates and massage studio. I am a massage therapist and Physical therapy assistant. Does anyone have any lose knowledge of the market for these kind of services or how easy/difficult it is to get a business going? Now that I married to an EU citizen, I imagine it is a lot easier to get working permission. Correct me if I am wrong. Any feedback is greatly appreciated .
Jeff......P.S. I am currently learning Dutch:)
jetante on September 30, 2015:
Take any job you can, don't be corrupt or a criminal. Take in every language or accent you can. Expect nothing. Just ask questions. Make as many mistakes as you want. Be yourself and go with the flow, but don't hide your opinion of feelings. Follow the news, talk shows and soap shows. If you want to learn dutch don't be a fanatic, go for quality not quantity. Play with the language. There is no perfection we are just human.
Linda Casey on August 07, 2015:
While reading the blog and all the comments, I found myself pretty much agreeing while reminiscing about my own experiences as an American expat living in The Netherlands for over 30 years (5 1/2 years in the 70s and again from 1989 until the present). As a native Californian, I previously lived for several years like a stranger in a foreign land in both Texas and Virginia which may have unwittingly prepared me for adapting to Dutch customs so readily each time I came. One very important thing to remember as a guest in someone else's country (or State): Never make comparisons, not even in passing (i.e. everything's so small!). Learn the language WELL and not just haphazardly using the excuse that everybody here speaks English. Find Dutch employment and mingle with the Dutch people to learn their customs which often vary from city to city or province to province. Of course there will be things that you will miss from 'home', but you'll also notice that when you go back 'home' that you miss things from Holland (I always bring my own coffee when I visit the U.S.). I'm Vegan/Vegetarian and when I first got here (even in the 90s) there were no meat and/or cheese replacement products. Now the supermarkets are more well stocked with far more variety than I've been able to find in the U.S. Each country has its pros and its cons. Learn to accept that you will always be a guest in someone else's country, no matter how 'at home' you feel. Be respectful and appreciative of the things offered to you by your host country, follow the rules and your stay in any foreign country will be pleasurable. Be flexible. It will serve you well. Groetjes
gabe on July 16, 2015:
I was born in Holland left when i was 2 would like to visit possibly move there.
Nadine on June 22, 2015:
It really depents on where you're going to study. In Amsterdam apartments are really expensive, so many students choose to live in the cities around Amsterdam. If you look for a student room for hiring, the best is to look at Dutch websites. Many English sites count a higher hire price. You can look op www.kamer.nl for student rooms/ apartments. The price can be really different, but for 2 persons living together ( if you want a bigger space) you can count for 800 euro's or more. But it really depends on the city where you want to go. Plus you can get a lot of benefits as a student what makes daily costs cheaper. You must understand to live as a student in a city, you'll get a small room ( I have a room for my own 20 m2 in a student flat with shared kitchen and bathroom). But I personally really like it, I've got really close with my house mates and consider them as my friends. And it will not costs you hours of cleaning ;)!