Retirement To Netherlands: 12 Pros And Cons

Have you ever dreamed of retiring to a brand new country with excellent public service, where the people are nice and the healthcare is great? Maybe the Netherlands could be for you! 

Here are the Pros and Cons of Retiring to the Netherlands:

  • Pros
    • Great Transportation
    • Large Expat Community
    • Diverse Cuisine
    • European Travel
    • Great Healthcare
    • English Widely Spoken
    • Extremely Safe
    • Friendly People
    • Lots of Activities
  • Cons
    • Expensive Housing
    • Cold Climate
    • Expensive Parking

So now that you have a glimpse about the pros and cons of retiring in the Netherlands, I will explain them in detail. 

Introduction To The Netherlands

The Netherlands or Holland is a country located in western europe bordered by Germany and Belgium. Although its main language is Dutch, almost everybody in Holland speaks English. The Netherlands is also known as one of the most developed countries in the world as well as the happiest country in 2021.  Known for bikes, tulips and the canals of Amsterdam it is a beautiful place.

The Netherlands have an estimated 17 million people with almost 40% of those living in the major cities of Randstad, Amsterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. The Netherlands is an expensive place to live generally but depending on how close to the major cities you are and the type of lifestyle you have it can still be affordable.  The advantages are a very safe country with great amenities, healthcare and lots of activities.

What are some of the Pros of Living in the Netherlands?

Great Transportation

The Netherlands is a relatively small country that only has a total area of 41,500 km2 which makes this country 237 times smaller than the United States. The capital city of Amsterdam is only about 85 square miles and has heaps of things to do but is also one of the most expensive capital cities to live in.  While it has pretty much everything you could want you may have to live in a more rural area to get a cheaper retirement.  This is not a problem due to the great transport links with busses and trains as well as being able to drive on great roads.. 

The public transport systems are well maintained and can take you everywhere in the Netherlands. You can take the bus, metro, trams, and light rail in most cities. Some cities even offered 24 services of bus and trams if you ever decided to have a late dinner out! If you want to get into a healthy lifestyle, the Netherlands is known for its fondness of bike riding. You can rent a bike in the Netherlands for €7.50 a day and it is available in most cities. And for the long, out of town trips, the train is a good air conditioned option. The Netherlands has the best train system in Europe offering fast, modern and punctual transportation with low fares and  stations all over the Netherlands. 

Large Expat Community

In the Netherlands, there are around 3 million foreigners, with over 31 thousand Americans deciding to live permanently in the country. The west side of the Netherlands has the  highest concentration of Americans. Utrecht, South Holland, and North Holland account for over 70% of the population. North Holland has twice as many Americans as the rest of the country. Wassenaar outperforms them all: its population is over twenty times that of the average American city. So if you decided to start your new life in Holland, you wouldn’t have to worry about being the only foreigner in the country.

Diverse Cuisine

Given that the Netherlands is such a diverse nation with people coming from over 200 countries this guarantees a vast variety of cuisines. You can have a traditional dutch breakfast, have a tasty burger for lunch and have sushi for dinner.

Here are some recommended restaurants you can try in the capital city Amsterdam:

Note: Some of these restaurants’ websites are in Dutch, so be sure to switch to English in the top right corner or use your browser’s auto translation feature.

European Travel

Being in the centre of the European Union (EU) the Netherlands is connected to the european rail system Eurail that while more expensive and longer than flying gives you great views and a comfortable ride.  As long as it is not a high speed train where everything flies by.. The trains and buses around Europe can be cheaper than flying short trips. The average price for a one-way ticket by a plane from Amsterdam to Paris is $140 USD meanwhile compared by train and bus with the same destination at about $90 USD and $30 USD respectively.  The cheap bus for Europe is Flix bus.

In addition if you are visiting Europe you will receive a schengen visa that costs €80 for up to 90 days. This visa will allow you to travel to 26 European nations without having to create a new visa for each country. 

Here is the official European Union policy for Schengen Visa

LINK: Information on the Schengen Visa

Great Healthcare

The public healthcare system in the Netherlands is one of the best in the world. The public healthcare system in the Netherlands ranked a lot higher than the United States so you do not have to worry about your health as an expat. If you don’t have a permanent visa I would recommend applying for private healthcare insurance.

Here are some provider you can check the pricing:

English Widely Spoken

Although the native language of this country is Dutch, Holland has the highest percentage of non native English speakers in Europe and the rest of the world. Almost 93% of the Netherlands population is able to speak English fluently. So if you are an English speaker wishing to retire somewhere new, the Netherlands is a great choice.

Extremely Safe

The Netherlands is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. As an expat, the Netherlands is much safer compared to some of its neighboring countries like the United Kingdom due to the different regulations regarding gun ownership. In the Netherlands, guns are prohibited as well as any other kind of weapons. 

You can have a walk around day or night without feeling threatened here in the Netherlands with friendly people ready to help if you ever need a hand. When it comes to crimes, the Netherlands keep improving its national security in pushing down the number of petty crimes which is already very low.  

Friendly People

The Netherlands is widely considered as one of the most open, tolerant, and liberal countries in the world. While they might seem cold and unfriendly towards foreigners, the majority of Dutch people are extremely humble, hospitable, and friendly. It’s simply that their way of being friendly is a little different from what most people are used to.

Lots of Activities

Despite being considered as a small country, the Netherlands offers plenty of activities for you to do. There’s many places worth visiting in the Netherlands ranging from beautiful natural landscapes to great historical sites. 

Here are some activities you can do in the Netherlands:

What are some of the Cons of Living in the Netherlands?

Expensive Housing

Due to being a small country with a dense population, finding housing that fits your personal style might be hard and expensive. The average cost of a two bedroom house in Amsterdam is starting at $600k USD and to rent one will cost you about $3000 USD each month.  You will find rural property on transport links a lot cheaper and can look at then on the real estate websites below.

Here are several websites where you can look for pricing:

Cold Weather

The weather in Holland can be quite cold most of the time but it does mean great air quality. If you choose to live in the Netherlands then you need to expect a lot of rain and wind most of the year especially around July until August. March can be challenging since it is the driest month of the year in the Netherlands. In addition, this country has a rather long winter, starting from November until March and it gets really snowy, foggy and freezing temperature down to the average of 35.6°F/2°C in January.  If you do like cuddling up under the blankets and having a log fire this may be very appealing to you.  Know however that all houses have internal heating and it is just when you go out you need to rug up.

TIP: Bring some nice warm clothes to get you started and always remember to take an umbrella in the summer when going for a stroll.

Expensive Parking

The Netherlands has one of the most expensive public parking rates in the world. In Amsterdam, the average cost of 2 hours parking is $15 USD. The reason why parking is so expensive in the Netherlands is because of limited supply and space and high demand for parking spots. Finding a spot itself can be tough enough.

TIP: If you don’t want to pay such high prices for parking you can try cycling instead. Most cities in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, provide free parking for bikes for the first 24 hours.

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