The Netherlands offers a great working life but is unfriendly and expensive, expats say

The Netherlands offers a great working life but is unfriendly and expensive, expats say

After coming in a very respectable 33rd place in 2021, this year’s edition of the Expat Insider Survey saw the Netherlands rise through the ranking to come in 22nd place, beating the likes of Germany, Sweden, and Luxembourg. 

InterNations Expat Insider 2022 Survey

Published annually by InterNations - a network of expats living in countries around the world - the Expat Insider Survey analyses the insights of around 12.000 respondents in order to determine expat quality of life in 52 countries across the globe. The survey examines a variety of topics across five key categories: 

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

Taiwan and Mexico have once again managed to claim two of the top three spots, while Indonesia rose into second place. All three countries ranked extremely high in both the Ease of Settling In and Personal Finance categories. Meanwhile, Kuwait once again came in last place, with New Zealand and Hong Kong rounding out the bottom three, largely as a result of their performances in the Personal Finance category. 

Expats criticise Dutch housing market and healthcare system

The Netherlands achieved mixed results in this year’s survey. While the country was ranked as one of the top five destinations in the Working Abroad Index, it achieved below-average scores in the Personal Finance and Ease of Settling In categories. Expats also highlighted a number of issues they faced living in the Netherlands, most notably the sub-par healthcare system, the inaccessibility of the Dutch housing market, and the unfriendliness of locals. 

25 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the quality of healthcare services in the Netherlands. Similarly, the country came in 49th place when it came to housing, with 53 percent of expats complaining it was difficult to find housing and 69 percent stating it was hard to afford. 

Finally, faced with a high inflation rate and rising prices, it’s unsurprising that the country performed poorly when it came to expat finances, with 46 percent of survey respondents saying they felt the cost of living was too high. 52 percent also complained that it was difficult to make friends with Dutch citizens, and only 63 percent of expats described the local population as generally friendly. “The Dutch interact much less with expats - most of my friends here are other expats,” one expat from the US explained.

The Netherlands remains a great place to work

While respondents picked out a number of issues when it came to their lives in the Netherlands, the results of the survey revealed that the Dutch business culture and the job opportunities in the Netherlands continue to make it a great country for work. 83 percent praised the flexibility of jobs in the Netherlands, and 73 percent agreed that the local work culture fostered creativity. 

The country also achieved spots in the top 15 when it came to the local job market, job security, and working hours. 67 percent even said that relocating to the Netherlands had improved their career opportunities, and while respondents agreed that life was expensive, 77 percent felt that their salaries allowed them to live a comfortable life. 

Finally, expats praised the country’s transportation system, with 90 percent saying they found it easy and safe to get around on foot or by bicycle, and 79 percent said it was easy to live in the country without speaking Dutch.

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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SyedhamjathSyed... 07:22 | 13 July 2022

Health care and housing are the two area needs attention. High cost medical insurance and no to less services is unacceptable. 400 to 600 k for family house means the current pay will not help to buy home. Reducing 30% ruling to 5 years in past was a another reason that majority of expat population will choose to leave Netherlands.

LeonGraham2 08:52 | 13 July 2022

Personally I found most Dutch to be easy to be friends with it helps if u try to learn the language and if u move out of what I call the hot spots like Amsterdam seeing that most amsterdamers have been forced out of the city I do agree that the health system is crap I have been in the Netherlands now for wel over 40 years but have noticed the explosive increase in costs in basic living and housing

Massimo Vetrisano 18:39 | 13 July 2022

While I fully agree on the healthcare and prices, the unfriendilyness of locals is unfair. I wonder how many respondants have made the effort to learn Dutch. I know expats people who have been living in a bubble for 20 years, they hang out only with their expat coworkers, send children to English schools, make no effort in knowing their hosting nation, and críticise the local culture all the time. If I were a local, I would not like to hang out with people who despise my country and culture. It is a tip for tap.

vin100merk 21:48 | 17 July 2022

It's been already said, but let me emphasise that in social relations it... "Takes 2 to tango", so if as an expat you don't bother to learn at least some of the language, don't expect the locals to really open up to you on the long run. And of course, the Dutch should also facilitate your learning their language... as I said: It takes 2 to tango or learn a language! Succes :-)