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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The Netherlands: Among the Top 5 Destinations for Working Abroad

Expats love their working life but are put off by high living expenses and difficulties settling in.

The Netherlands excels in the Working Abroad Index (4th), performing best in the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (4th). Nearly three in four expats (73%) agree that the local business culture fosters creativity (vs. 51% globally). Another 74% describe it as promoting flat hierarchies and independent work (vs. 45% globally), and 83% appreciate how flexibility is supported (vs. 60% globally).

Better Career Options & Work-Life Balance

Apart from such “soft” factors, the Netherlands also does well on “hard” factors related to the local job market (9th), job security (12th), and working hours (7th). For example, 67% of expats say that moving there has improved their career options (vs. 60% globally). Nearly three in five (59%) are happy with the local job market (vs. 47% globally), and 85% rate the state of the economy positively (vs. 64% globally).

But expats are not only satisfied with their job security (67% vs. 59% globally). They also thrive with regard to work-life balance: 70% rate it favorably (vs. 62% globally), and 73% are happy with their working hours (vs. 63% globally).

Stable, Open-Minded, Well Connected

While the Netherlands still ranks better than average in the Quality of Life Index, it only lands in 22nd place. It narrowly misses out on the top 10 in the Travel & Transit Subcategory (11th), though. More than nine in ten expats (94%) find it easy and safe to get around on foot or by bicycle (vs. 77% globally). They are also satisfied with the infrastructure for cars (88% happy vs. 75% globally) and their travel opportunities (92% happy vs. 82% globally).

Expats view the Netherlands as a stable country and liberal society: 79% are happy with its political stability (vs. 64% globally), and 78% say that they can freely express themselves and their opinions (vs. 64% globally).

Great Environment, Subpar Healthcare

The other subcategories receive rather mixed results. The country gets great ratings for the availability of green goods and services (81% happy vs. 64% globally), environmentally friendly policies (81% happy vs. 61% globally), and its urban environment (81% happy vs. 67% globally). “I love the air quality, the bicycle paths, and walking tracks. There are so many parks here, and it's such a green country. I just love it!” an expat from India comments.

However, expats in the Netherlands are not satisfied with the factors surveyed in the Health & Well-Being Subcategory (41st). Only 54% describe healthcare as affordable (vs. 61% globally), and just 66% say it is easily available (vs. 73% globally). One in four (25%) is also dissatisfied with its quality (vs. 14% globally). Last but not least, respondents are unhappy with the local climate (49% vs. 19% globally).

A Difficult Housing Market

In the Expat Essentials Index, the Netherlands ranks in a mediocre 25th place. This is mostly due to the Housing Subcategory (49th), where it ends up among the bottom 5 worldwide: 53% agree it is difficult for expats to find housing (vs. 27% globally), and 69% consider it hard to afford (vs. 43% globally).

As far as other aspects of everyday life are concerned, the Netherlands performs quite well. For instance, 79% find it easy to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 51% globally), 64% of those who needed a visa to relocate had no issues with getting one (vs. 56% globally), and 85% like the easy availability of government services online (vs. 61% globally). “I really like the ease of dealing with the government and all the admin-related things of moving to a new country. It is also great that the Dutch speak English so well,” says an expat from South Africa.

Not Exactly Cheap — Or Friendly

With regard to Personal Finance, the Netherlands ends up in a below-average 32nd place. In fact, 46% of expats consider the cost of living too high (vs. 35% globally). Nevertheless, 77% feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to live a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally).

The country’s weakest spot is the Ease of Settling In Index (37th). Just 63% of expats describe the local population as generally friendly, slightly less than the global average of 66%. Another 24% find it hard to get used to the local culture (vs. 19% globally).

In the Finding Friends Subcategory (44th), the Netherlands even features among the global bottom 10. Only 46% are happy with their social life (vs. 56% globally), and 52% say that making local friends is difficult (vs. 37% globally). Unsurprisingly, 47% are mostly friends with other expats (vs. 33% globally). “The Dutch interact much less with expats. Most of my friends here are other expats, whereas I had many French friends in Paris,” says an expat from the US.

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