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Complete Guide to Living in the Netherlands as an American Expat

Become an expat in the Netherlands

You’re in the right place if you want to take a deep dive into learning about becoming an American expat in the Netherlands. Before soaking up all you need to know about moving abroad, check out these fun facts about your potential home in Europe:

  • The Netherlands is about the size of New Jersey and has a population around 17.2 million.

  • The country has one of the strongest economies in Europe.

  • The Dutch government is dedicated to promoting solar energy and reducing 49% of gas emissions by 2030. 

  • And, aside from being known for windmills, bicycles, tulips, canals, and fries with mayo, the Netherlands is a hot spot for American expats who’ve made the country their home too.

In addition to the facts just mentioned, part of the appeal for Americans living in Amsterdam and other parts of the country is the low crime rate, large expat communities, excellent transportation system, and access to quality healthcare. 

You’ll find that many expats in the Netherlands have opted to make Amsterdam their new home because it’s the capital city and English is spoken everywhere. While this can help make a transition easier, it could also be a recipe for not learning to speak Dutch.

 

Aside from language, foreigners living in the Netherlands tend to appreciate the change of seasons and the country’s proximity to other parts of Europe. If this sounds appealing, then moving to the Netherlands might be the perfect fit for you! 

 

Now that you’ve been introduced to some of the perks that attract Americans to move abroad, read on to learn all you need to know about living in the Netherlands as an expat. 

Living in the Netherlands

While immigrants from other countries throughout the world flock to the Netherlands for a variety of reasons, Americans tend to relocate to this part of Europe for work, study, marriage or simply to have an adventure. 


In
I’m Outta Here: An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living In Europe, you’ll find detailed information on the different visas available to foreigners who want to call the Netherlands their home. This includes information about a special visa for Americans who are freelancers or intend to start their own business in the country.

I'm outta here book

To get started on exploring your visa options order and download your copy today! 

Is the Netherlands a good place to live?

Chances are that you already know a bit about what you’re looking for If you’re pursuing moving abroad. So, if your checklist includes living in a country with friendly people, opportunities to meet other expats, and an excellent infrastructure, then living in the Netherlands is a good place to call home.

 

Due to tax incentives, many multinational and tech companies have offices with international employees throughout. Therefore, if you’re coming for work, you’ll be set up with an instant community. Hence, another perk that makes moving to the Netherlands a good idea. 

Is living in the Netherlands expensive?

Taxes in the Netherlands are based on income and can be extremely high. Expect to pay a 9% VAT (sales tax) on items such as medicine, food, and drinks. There’s a 21% VAT on all products and services outside of the lower tax category too.

Take a look at Expatica for additional information on taxes in the Netherlands.

Also note that gas in the country costs about $7.00 a gallon. This is one of the reasons why the Dutch promote driving electric cars and biking where you need to go. So, if you’re planning on moving to the Netherlands, you might want to dust off your bike if you haven’t been on one in a while.

 

Daily expenses like movie tickets and groceries are about the same as what you’d pay in the United States. However, plan to spend around 20% more than what you’re used to for utilities and clothes.

Can a U.S. citizen move to the Netherlands?

As mentioned earlier, there are different visas available to Americans who want to move to the Netherlands. To learn more about which visa you might qualify for, get your copy of the digital book: I’m Outta Here: An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living In Europe.

Can I move to the Netherlands without a job?

A big part of moving abroad is adjusting to a new culture. So, if you’re planning to work once you live in the Netherlands, securing a job beforehand will make your transition to living in a new country a lot smoother. However, there are plenty of jobs for highly-skilled workers in the Netherlands, particularly for professionals in tech and finance, that you can apply to once you arrive. Keep in mind that you will need to secure a signed job offer that meets specific salary requirements in order to apply for a residency/work permit, otherwise you’ll have to leave the country after 90 days. 

 

Although there are many opportunities for professional expats, knowing a little Dutch might help you stand-out. Regardless, if your situation allows you to first network once you’re in the country, this could be the way for you to secure the perfect job.

What jobs are in demand in the Netherlands?

Since the Netherlands is a hub for international and multinational companies, jobs for highly-skilled workers, especially those with experience in the tech, engineering, science and finance, are in high demand. The job market in the Netherlands is much better than if you lived in another popular expat destination, Spain.  

Once you land an interview you will need to go through a rigorous application process similar to the process in the United States.

windmills the netherlands

After you’ve secured your job, you’ll get to enjoy a fantastic work/life balance that includes a lot of vacation days. You’ll also quickly learn that the Dutch work culture honors efficiency, being direct, and showing up on time.

Where to live in the Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands is a big life decision. That’s why you’ll want to find a city that checks all your boxes before making the leap. In Planning to Move Abroad? 12 Things You Need To Do Before You Go, you’ll learn some helpful tips that’ll prepare you before you go. To help you decide where you’d like to live, read the following overview of some popular Dutch cities that attract people from all over the world.

Amsterdam

Approximately 30,000 Americans live in Amsterdam. Aside from job opportunities, foreigners are drawn to the Dutch capital for its diversity, progressive views, and access to other parts of Europe. Since almost everyone in the Dutch capital speaks English, it’s an easy European city for Americans to get acclimated. 

 

While there are many perks to living in Amsterdam (see below), keep in mind that the city is one of the most expensive in Western Europe. However, if you come to Amsterdam with a job at an international company, salaries are comparable to the cost of living in the city. 

Rotterdam

In addition to being the second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe. Aside from being on the water, Rotterdam is a modern city that’s attracted internationals from all over the world. Therefore, if you’d like to live in a vibrant city that’s rich in culture and more affordable than living in Amsterdam, consider making Rotterdam your new home.

The Hague

Along with being the government capital of the Netherlands, The Hague is a popular place for foreigners interested in living in a quieter city that’s affordable, has an excellent transportation system, and is convenient to other parts of the country. Since many of the consulates are based in The Hague, it’s also easy to make friends from all over the world.

Living in Amsterdam as an American

As mentioned, approximately 30,000 American expats live in Amsterdam. Because the city is rich in diversity, there are plenty of opportunities to build community and make friends with both locals and expats. This includes joining social groups like Meetup and volunteering. For more ideas on how to find your community once you move abroad, check out our guide on making friends abroad.

 

Aside from being an easy city to tap into expat communities, locals tend to be very welcoming to foreigners living in the Netherlands. These factors make residing in the capital city a good experience for Americans who’ve moved (or are planning to move) to Amsterdam.

girl riding bike in amsterdam

While there are many benefits to living in Amsterdam, there are some challenges too. For example, it’ll take a while to adjust to Dutch customs like making appointments to meet with friends, learning the local transportation system, and figuring out how to do basic things like open a bank account.

Moving abroad is an exciting adventure but it does come with it’s stressors. To help you adapt to expat life, take a look at our advice for managing life abroad.

Cost of living in Amsterdam

Living in Amsterdam isn’t cheap. In fact, prices have skyrocketed thanks to the Netherlands being a top tourist destination for visitors from all over the world. Housing prices have also jumped due to the lack of inventory and the influx of Airbnb rentals in the city. 

 

If you’re from a medium to large city in the United States, expenses in the Netherlands will be slightly less than what you’re used to paying. For example, rent in Amsterdam for a one-bedroom apartment can run anywhere from $1000 up to $2000 a month. 

 

Other costs to consider if you’re planning on living in Amsterdam as an American include transportation and utilities. Amsterdam has an excellent public transportation system that’s much more affordable and convenient than driving a car in the city. And utilities such as electricity (and even internet) can average 20% more to what they’d cost in the United States.

Can Americans retire in the Netherlands

Retiring in the Netherlands is an appealing option for Americans seeking a better quality of life, topnotch health care that’s affordable, and living in country with low crime. Another major advantage to moving to the Netherlands as a retiree is the Dutch and U.S agreement preventing double taxation on Americans living in the country.

 

However the downside is that the Netherlands does not offer a specific visa for American retirees. In order to retire in the Netherlands you need to spend five years legally residing in the country and then apply for permanent residency showing proof of funds to support yourself without working. 

tulip fields in the netherlands

Is there free healthcare in the Netherlands?

Residents need to apply for public healthcare that runs about €100 a month. If you’d like extra coverage, you can opt for a private plan too.

For more information about insurance options for expats living in the Netherlands, check out I’m Outta Here: An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living In Europe.

Do I have to learn Dutch to live in the Netherlands?

Even though Americans in the Netherlands can get by with English, it’s helpful and respectful to learn a little Dutch; especially if you’re planning to live or visit some of the smaller towns throughout the country. And, although English is the primary language spoken in large companies, it’ll be useful to know a few Dutch words and phrases.

How to move to the Netherlands

As you know, deciding to move abroad is both exciting and overwhelming. To help make your dreams of hitting refresh in the Netherlands happen, refer to the following resources with useful information and tips about living overseas.

All information included in this piece is based on most recent information available at time of writing – September 30, 2021.

 

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