The best places to live in the Netherlands
In fact, the most attractive cities to live and work in across the Netherlands are all located in the northern Randstad, with Utrecht ranked second, Amstelveen third and Haarlem fourth. Of the top ten most attractive cities in the Netherlands, only Den Bosch (fifth) and Nijmegen (seventh) are not located in the west of the country.
The main reason for the increased attractiveness of Randstad cities has been due to falling housing prices in recent years and the reduction in traffic jams in the area.
Amsterdam the best place in Netherlands
The Atlas voor Gemeenten (Atlas for Municipalities) has for the last 15 years looked at the 50 largest municipalities to determine which are the most attractive for people to live in.
The assessment is based on criteria such as the accessibility of employment, cultural offerings, proximity to nature, safety and the presence of a university or a historical city centre.
For the tenth year in a row, the Atlas has given top spot to Amsterdam. Per thousand inhabitants, Amsterdam has one bar and two restaurants, with eight plays, two classical concerts and seven pop concerts a year.
Popularity of the Randstad
The abundance of things like culture, nature, safety and the greater likelihood of finding a job are what makes more young people want to live in the Randstad.
Amsterdam and Utrecht, for example, both have a relatively young and highly educated population, while nearby Amstelveen is seen as a cheaper and quieter alternative to the capital.
Rotterdam, however, is not rated as attractive as the other cities in the area. According to the report, one area where Rotterdam has difficulty is that it has a comparatively large amount of low-skilled workers with weak socio-economic positions.
Regional differences to grow
Lead researcher for the Atlas Gerard Marlet believes that the difference between the Randstad and the rest of the Netherlands will grow, as municipalities begin to take on many of the social services previously performed by the national government.
Municipalities that have larger numbers of unemployed, elderly and disabled dependents will be at a financial disadvantage.
For example, from 2015 the municipality of Heerlen in Limburg will have to support 14 per cent of all its 15- to 64-year-old residents. By contrast, the municipality of Amstelveen will need to support only three per cent of this group in its population.
Another finding in this year’s Atlas was the great difference between municipalities in the employment situation of non-Western immigrants.
In Maastricht, for example, around a quarter of this group had had full-time employment over the last four years, whereas in places like Haarlemmermeer that percentage was double.
"Immigrants also seem find more opportunities in the west of the country," Marlet said.