Expats Guide: Best Places to Live in the Netherlands

Best places to live in the Netherlandes - Windmills

When you are moving to the Netherlands as a foreigner, Amsterdam is probably the first place that pops in your mind. This famous city is loved around the world as one of the best travel destinations in Europe, but is it really one of the best places to live in the Netherlands? 

Before you decide where to move and start your new life, there are a few crucial considerations that you will want to understand about Dutch life. 

Ready to start packing? Here’s your guide to the very best cities in the Netherlands.

How to Choose the Best Places to Live in the Netherlands

Finding the perfect Dutch home for you is one of your first major decisions when you’re moving to the Netherlands. There are countless options and, for better or worse, it is not as simple as just choosing the most beautiful town – though the incredible selection of lovely choices is definitely a nice perk!

Every three years, the well-known Dutch real estate company JLL creates a list of the best places to live in the Netherlands. While deciding on the very best city is certainly a subjective matter, the survey does take into account the key traits that are universally desirable for all of us.

Looking at 84 different towns and cities in the Netherlands with a population of over 50,000 people, the company looks at 37 core traits. These include things like crime rate, housing prices, economic growth, and other factors that are conducive to a productive and happy life. 

Indeed, it was Amsterdam that stole the show on this list. Closely behind was Utrecht, followed by Delft, Amersfoort and Zwolle.

Best places to live in the netherlands

Is Amsterdam the Best Place to Live in Holland?

On top of the JLL survey, other top rankings like the Atlas voor Gemeenten (Atlas for Municipalities) list of top Dutch cities has given the number one spot to Amsterdam year after year. So, is Amsterdam really the best place to live in Holland?

It certainly may be. Expats around the globe absolutely love their lives in Amsterdam. Just read these glowing takes they offered to the BBC. While certain things like stability and safety can be found throughout the Netherlands, Amsterdam is truly the mecca of job opportunities. 

The particularly appealing thing about moving to Amsterdam is that skilled, non-Dutch speaking international workers are in high demand. Foreigners are not coming in to pick up the slack in jobs that aren’t filled by locals. To the contrary, international headquarters are desperate to bring in international workers who can work in their highly globalised market. 

That said, if you find great job opportunities outside of Amsterdam, there are other outstanding options that will offer all of the same perks as life in the big city.

Is Utrecht a Good Place to Live?

For those looking to get away from the tourists’ traps and skyrocketing housing costs, Utrecht is certainly one of the best places to live in the Netherlands. This Dutch city is, in fact, less than 25 minutes to Amsterdam by train and less than 30 minutes to the Schiphol Airport

Utrecht is no commuter city, however. Bristling with museums, sidewalk cafes, and a thriving ex-pat community, it is anything but a second-tier city. In fact, locals often say that Amsterdam is the blood of the nation while The Hague is the brains. And Utrecht? It is the beating heart of the Netherlands. As you sip coffee beside the canal, you will undoubtedly feel a sense of local community that is not so easy to track down in Amsterdam.

Best places to live in Netherlands - Houses on a canal in Utrecht

Expat Life in Delft

Nestled in South Holland between The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft is a dream spot for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This university town is packed with buzzing cafes and restaurants yet it’s quiet enough that you can walk down the street without having to push your way through packs of tourists.

The centre of Delft, in fact, is reminiscent of the old Amsterdam back in the days before the largest city in the Netherlands it became one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions.

While Delft can make you feel like you are getting away from it all, you will remain very much in the centre of Dutch life. Easy transportation links are one key feature that makes this one of the best places to live in the Netherlands. You can hop on and train and be to The Hague in 5 minutes by train, Rotterdam in 15 minutes, or Amsterdam in 50 minutes.

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Moving to Amersfoort as a Foreigner

Another incredible little city is Amersfoort. When it comes to the best place to raise a family in Amsterdam, this one will certainly tick all of the boxes. With a population hovering around 150,000 people, you can find great opportunities and plenty to do while still avoiding a long commute and expensive housing.

The city of Amersfoort is famous for its safe streets and high standard of education. For parents and single ex-pats alike, there is plenty to do on a night out or you can hop on the train and be in Utecht and Hilversum in 15 minutes.

Best places to live in the Netherlands - A street in Amersfoort

Ready to pack up and start your new Dutch life? If you are serious about moving to the Netherlands, you need our ultimate moving to the Netherlands guide. From taxes to healthcare to visas, cost of living and beyond, you will find everything that you could need to know within this guide.

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