The Netherlands: Great for working, bad for housing, healthcare, and socialising

The Netherlands: Great for working, bad for housing, healthcare, and socialising

While the Netherlands has once again achieved a fairly respectable 22nd place in this year’s Expat Insider Survey, internationals have again criticised the country’s healthcare system, housing market, and the unfriendliness of locals.

InterNations Expat Insider 2023 Survey

Published annually by InterNations - a network of expats living in countries around the world - the Expat Insider Survey analyses the insights of over 12.000 respondents representing 171 nationalities in order to determine expat quality of life in 53 countries across the globe. As part of this year’s edition of the survey, InterNations assessed dozens of different aspects of life abroad in order to determine which destinations are the best - and worst - for expat living. 

The 56 factors assessed in the survey were once again split into five key topics: 

  • Quality of Life Index (leisure options, safety & security, public transport, etc.)
  • Ease of Settling In Index (culture, friendliness, etc.)
  • Working Abroad Index (career prospects, job security, etc.)
  • Personal Finance Index
  • Expat Essentials Index (languages, internet, housing, etc)

Yet again, Mexico has come out on top of InterNations’ ranking, being named the number one destination in the world for expats in 2023. Spain and Panama round out the top three, while Kuwait once again claimed bottom place on the list. Interestingly, while Norway is regularly praised for its overall quality of life, the 2023 Expat Insider Survey found it to be one of the worst destinations for expats. 

The Netherlands offers great work life, but is unfriendly

This year sees the Netherlands match its performance from 2022, once again claiming 22nd place overall and beating popular expat destinations such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Qatar. On the whole, the country’s ranking is again the result of mixed results in the survey, with expats praising the Netherlands for its working environment but criticising it for the unfriendliness of locals (a recurring theme in surveys among expats). 

Something that is certainly worth celebrating is the Netherlands’ first-place position in the Working Abroad Index. InterNations found that respondents were especially happy with Dutch work culture and the overall work-life balance that the country offers. The country also did well when it came to salaries, the number of working hours, and job opportunities. In other positive news, expats reportedly find it easy to acquire a visa to relocate to the Netherlands and 84 percent said that Dutch administrative services are easily available online.

The Quality of Life Index told a very different story, however. Perhaps unsurprisingly, expats were found to be unimpressed with the weather and Dutch healthcare system, complaining about the price and accessibility of healthcare services. As InterNations explains, housing also turned out to be “a major area of difficulty”, as the housing market is both expensive and highly competitive. 

The country’s results in the Ease of Settling In Index also let down its overall performance. 50 percent of respondents said they find it difficult to make friends with locals, compared to a global average of just 36 percent. “Not many people here are interested in making new friends,” an Italian expat explained. Similarly, many admitted that they didn’t feel at home in the Netherlands and that they weren’t happy with their social life.

The best and worst countries in the world for expats

According to the InterNations Expat Insider 2023 Survey, the top five destinations in the world for expats are: 

  1. Mexico
  2. Spain
  3. Panama
  4. Malaysia
  5. Taiwan

Meanwhile, the five countries occupying the bottom spots in the ranking are: 

  1. Kuwait
  2. Norway
  3. Turkey
  4. South Korea
  5. Germany

For more information about the Expat Insider Survey, visit the InterNations website.

Thumb: Maria Sbytova via

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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