Amsterdam vs The Hague: Which Dutch city is the best for expats?

Amsterdam vs The Hague: Which Dutch city is the best for expats?

Both Amsterdam and The Hague feature in InterNations’ 2020 rankings for the top 66 cities around the world for expats - but which Dutch city is the best place for expats? Find out below. 

The Expat City Ranking 2020

As part of their annual Expat Insider Survey, InterNations - a network of expats around the world - asked over 15.000 expats living in 181 different counties and representing a total of 173 nationalities for their opinion on four aspects of expat life. Under these four aspects, there were over 25 topics, split into 13 sub-categories, that expats were asked to rate on a scale of one to seven: 

  • Quality of Urban Living: Leisure & Climate; Transportation; Safety & Politics; Health & Environment
  • Getting Settled: Local Friendliness; Feeling Welcome; Friends & Socialising; Local Language
  • Urban Work Life: Job & Career; Job Security; Work-Life Balance
  • Finance & Housing: Finance; Housing

Using these topics, InterNations aims to determine the best and worst cities for expats around the world, ranking 66 cities from best to worst. Cities featuring in this year’s ranking include Rome, Johannesburg, Singapore, and, of course, Amsterdam and The Hague

It is important to note that the 2020 survey was carried out in March, pre-coronavirus, so it will be interesting to find out how these cities perform in a post-COVID world. 

Which Dutch city is the best place for expats? 

This year’s rankings differ significantly from the 2019 Expat City Ranking - which saw The Hague secure a top 10 spot, and also featured Rotterdam in 32nd place. 

Amsterdam: Great for work, not for life 

Amsterdam’s position in 27th place marks a vast improvement on last year’s 48th. The city did, however, receive mixed reviews. The city received its best score under the Urban Work Life Index, where it came in second place behind Luxembourg. 65 percent of expats rate their career prospects in Amsterdam positively, and 90 percent are happy with the state of the local economy. Expats also expressed in the survey that, while it was difficult to make friends in the city - unsurprising, considering how poorly the Netherlands performed in InterNations' Finding Friends Ranking - language did not prove to be an issue.

While 94 percent of expats are pleased with the public transport system in the Dutch capital, and also rated the urban environment quite highly., the city still performed poorly in the Quality of Urban Living Index, ranking 34th overall. This low ranking is due to expats’ dissatisfaction with the local climate and weather, and the quality and availability of healthcare. Expats were also unhappy with the availability of (affordable) housing in the capital, and Amsterdam ranked 52nd in the Finance & Housing Index. 

The Hague: Job and political security

Similarly, The Hague performed best in the Urban Work Life Index, coming in 15th place. It also achieved an above-average ranking in the Quality of Urban Living Index (29th place vs Amsterdam’s 34th) due to the local public transport system and political stability. As for the Leisure & Climate category, like Amsterdam, The Hague was criticised for its weather and climate. 

As for the Getting Settled Index - where The Hague ranked 39th overall - expats stated they felt it was difficult to socialise and make friends when living in the city. However, it did outperform Amsterdam in the Finance & Housing Index (42nd vs 52nd). 

Source: Internations InterNations Expat City Ranking

The best cities for expats 

According to findings from the Expat Insider Survey, the top 10 cities around the world for expats are: 

  1. Valencia
  2. Alicante
  3. Lisbon
  4. Panama City
  5. Singapore
  6. Malaga 
  7. Buenos Aires 
  8. Kuala Lumpur
  9. Madrid
  10. Abu Dhabi

The worst cities for expats

From worst to best, the cities found to be the worst places for expats to settle are: 

  1. Kuwait
  2. Rome
  3. Seoul
  4. Milan
  5. Nairobi
  6. Paris
  7. Johannesburg
  8. Santiago 
  9. Dublin
  10. Hong Kong

To find more information about the Expat Insider survey, visit the InterNations website.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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