Living and Travelling in the Netherlands

Moving to a new country is challenging, especially when navigating the cost of living. Travelling within the Netherlands is easy, but without an OV chipkaart, it can be quite expensive. It’s recommended to get one for efficient and cost-effective travel. Some stations give you the ability to pay with your debit card. But this hasn’t been applied to all public transportation yet.

You are best off getting a personal OV chipkaart here

Goods and services

In general, the cost of goods and services in the Netherlands is slightly above the EU average, with notable differences in specific categories. Monthly utilities, such as gas and electricity, significantly contribute to the cost of living. For a standard 85-square-meter apartment, utilities average around €160 per month. Additional municipal charges, like sewerage (rioolheffing) and waste disposal (afvalstoffenheffing), further increase expenses.

However, it’s not only about cost but also the ‘Value of Money unit’. Instead of focusing solely on the exchange rate, understanding the value of your euros in terms of everyday expenses, like a 1-euro loaf of bread, can provide a clearer perspective on your expenditure and savings. Food and drinks can be comparatively pricier in the Netherlands.

Manual Labor and Home Services Costs

Services involving manual labor, like home renovations or maintenance, can be quite costly in the Netherlands compared to other countries. Budgeting for these costs when planning your move is a good idea.

The 30% rule for the Dutch Tax System

The Dutch tax system has some advantages for expats. There’s a tax-free benefit for the first five years, after which a 30% tax rate may apply. This system includes three “boxes” for different income categories: freelance/employment work, substantial interest, and savings or investments. There is a law giving expats a 30% ruling on certain tax benefits. You could be treated as a partial non-resident taxpayer, leading to potential savings on taxes on savings and investments.

Read more about the 30% facility here

Educational expenses

Are you a parent? In the Netherlands, the primary and secondary education system is not accompanied by mandatory school fees, making it accessible for your child. However, you may encounter requests for voluntary parental contributions. These often cater to additional activities outside the regular curriculum, like excursions, or cover extra resources such as calculators or physical education materials. If you opt for out-of-school care or school lunch programs for your child, expect some additional costs. When your child advances to university, they might be eligible for financial assistance, including a student loan, a supplementary grant, and a student public transport card.

The Dutch Sentiment - 'Goedkoop is duurkoop'

There’s a Dutch saying, ‘Goedkoop is duurkoop’, which essentially means that cheaper isn’t always better. It’s a sentiment that many internationals can resonate with when living in the Netherlands. Quality often comes at a price, but it usually turns out to be more cost-effective in the long run.