What does the cost of living in the Netherlands look like? I remember scouring the internet for hours trying to find this answer years ago. It wasn’t until after I moved here and experienced life as both a student and a working professional that I was able to truly break down the costs of a Dutch lifestyle. As a result, I found that it was and is an easy decision to say in the Netherlands.
What to consider before moving abroad
You need to consider the variables first. What city are you interested in moving to? Do you prefer a bustling town or a quiet neighborhood? What are your lifestyle choices? These are just some of the factors that the cost of living will be dependent on. if it’s of any help I wrote about the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands for internationals to consider before making the move abroad.
How much do groceries cost in the Netherlands?
The price of groceries is pretty standard throughout the country. Monthly expect to pay anywhere from €100-€250 euros. If you’re a family of four€200-€400 euros is sufficient. This of course depends on your diet and eating habits (meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegan diets will vary). Compared to living in California where a few items would cost me€50, this would last me for a whole week!
There are markets and supermarkets like Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Lidl and Aldi. However, where you shop can make a huge difference in the costs. I like to get all my fresh produce from the local market which is tastier and less expensive. You may even pay less since some work offices offer subsidized lunches.
Owning a Car
Owning a car in the Netherlands is very expensive and fuel prices are some of the highest in Europe. Unless you would need to go to a location that is only reachable by car I personally suggest public transport because of how convenient it is. Having a subscription to a car share like Green wheels allows you to have access to a car without all the hassle of a lease or owning it. Excessive car use in big cities is discouraged because of the health factors regarding pollution and exhaust as well as traffic.
That being all said, let’s do a breakdown of the costs:
- Fuel prices (as of 10/24/21)
- Unleaded= 2.09 EUR/L
- Diesal = 1.76 EUR/L
- Road taxes: This depends on the province you live Co2 emissions but for petrol cars this can cost €113 to €294 euros per quarter. and You can calculate your motor vehicle tax here. If you have an electric or hydrogen vehicle then your tax rate should exempt or reduced.
- Car insurance: This can start from €10 a month and on average about €40 which is basic coverage. This also depends on the typce of car, where you live, how many years you are accident free.
As you can see why many of the Dutch don’t drive themselves. Besides housing, I think car-related expenses drive up the cost of living in the Netherlands.
Is public transport in the Netherlands expensive? Hands down yes. I’ve lived in three European countries and have traveled the EU extensively and the Netherlands has always surprised me for its high costs. However, public transport here is some of the most reliable I’ve experienced living and traveling in different countries. But the more important factor to consider is how far will you be traveling to work for instance? Will you be taking the train, tram, metro, or bus? I checked the official Dutch transport website and a 30-minute round-trip train ticket from Utrecht to Amsterdam cost around €18 euros. Biking is the most cost-effective way to get to work (but this only works if you’re close enough in distance).
Health insurance is mandatory in the Netherlands (and it’s beneficial to mention that it isn’t free because foreigners tend to think so). The costs depend on your coverage and this can range anywhere from €83-€143 per month.
Expect the average cost to be around €150-200 euros per month. This includes electricity, water, gas, and the internet.
Salaries are much lower here compared to the US but I find that you truly do get more for less. What is the minimum wage in the Netherlands? As of June 2020, the minimum wage is €1635.60 euros per month.
This will be the highest expense of the breakdown and is highly dependent on the area you desire to live in. Evidently, living in a village will be less expensive than living in the city center. I’ll do a breakdown of what to generally expect when it comes to housing. To showcase the higher rate of rent I will also use Amsterdam as a primary example. It’s a very popular place to live and thus the chance of finding a place is very competitive. There are other cities to consider that are less competitive and better than Amsterdam (in my opinion). Check out this list of the top 5 places to live in the Netherlands.
Furnished or unfurnished?
Unfurnished is the default when looking for housing. It means that the room or apartment is empty except for the standards like a shower. keep in mind that some of these places may not have a refrigerator, kitchen equipment, and washing machine. For an unfurnished room, you’re looking at anywhere from €300-€500 (depending on the location). Furnished accommodation will evidently cost more and this will vary according to the landlord and companies that offer furnishings.
If you live in the Netherlands for a period longer than four months, you must be registered with your local municipality or gemeente. Looking for housing that includes registration will cost more. Expect this cost to be anywhere from added€50+ euros alongside the rent.
Buying a house
Buying a house here is much more affordable than back home (Los Angeles) and one of the reasons I think the cost of living in the Netherlands is better compared to the US. However, keep in mind that there is a shortage of housing due to the very high demand. Once again the price varies according to location but generally, you can expect anywhere from a low of€200K to€600K+. This site shows you a graph of the average price of single homes by Dutch province in 2021.
How much is rent in Amsterdam?
Like mentioned beforehand, the cost of living in Amsterdam is very high so you can imagine that rent prices are some of the most expensive in the country. To find housing you will be competing against locals, students, and other expats. For a one-bedroom apartment, prices range from€1,200-€2,300+. A studio will start at€900-1500 and a two-bedroom apartment will cost anywhere from€1500-3000.
How much does a meal cost in Netherlands?
An average meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you €15-€25 euros. A mid-range restaurant costs anywhere between €40-€80 euros per person. For the higher-end places, this depends on the establishment. For example, a Michelin star restaurant can easily end up being €300 for two people. Whereas I’ve dined at high-rated places and the bill was under €150. To have a decent time expect paying a meal in the mid-range.
A night out on the town and other leisure activities
Whether you want to paint the town red, grab a drink with friends, or head to the museum it’s important to factor in leisurely expenses for the cost breakdown.
- Museums: If you’re interested in having a cultural experience or seeing the latest exhibits going to a musuem can cost €15-€20 euros. Having a museum card is handy to have. It allows you yearly access to over 400 musuems in the Netherlands. After visting some of the country’s best museums you realize how quickly you get your money back for the price.
- Drinks: Again, this depends on where you go and the establishment. At bars catering to students drinks can cost anywhere from €3 to €10 euros. Cocktail bars are more pricey so expect drinks from €12 euros upwards.
- Clubs: For all the clubgoers and live music lovers, your best bet is to head to Amsteram, Rotterdam or Utrecht. Most of these clubs around the Netherlands will ask for an entrance fee. this can cost anywhere from €5 to €25 euros.