Cost of Living in the Netherlands: A Complete 2024 Guide


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Whether you’re an expat drawn to the innovation hubs of Amsterdam, a student eager to immerse yourself in a rich academic tradition, or a long-term tourist captivated by Dutch charm, understanding the cost of living is pivotal to a seamless transition into Dutch life.

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This article serves as a comprehensive guide for those who might not be well-versed in the Dutch language but are seeking clarity in English on the financial nuances of life in the Netherlands.

Key Takeaways

  • The Netherlands offers a balance of high living standards with moderate costs.
  • Dutch housing can be cheaper than some European hubs but pricier than others.
  • Daily essentials like groceries are moderately priced and comparable to neighboring countries.
  • Dutch healthcare, while of high quality, may come with higher insurance premiums.
  • Education in public schools is essentially free, but international schooling can be costly.

Currency and Basic Understanding

The foundation of any financial journey begins with understanding the currency in circulation and getting a grip on the general economic landscape. In the Netherlands, this journey starts with the Euro.

Euro (€): The Currency of Choice

As a part of the Eurozone, the Netherlands uses the Euro (€) as its official currency. Banknotes and coins are standardized across countries that use the Euro, making it convenient within the Dutch borders and when traveling to neighboring Euro-using countries.

Average Wages: A Contextual Frame

Before delving deep into the expenses, it’s essential to understand the income side of the equation. On average, Dutch salaries are competitive when compared to other Western European countries.

While there’s significant variation depending on the industry and profession, as of our last update:

  • The average gross monthly salary is around €2,900–€3,500 for entry-level positions.
  • More experienced professionals might expect somewhere in the range of €4,500–€6,000 or even higher, particularly in specialized sectors.

It’s worth noting that the Dutch system often quotes salaries on a gross basis. This means that the mentioned figures are before tax deductions. So, when budgeting or comparing salaries with your home country, always ensure you are comparing apples to apples—either both net (after tax) or both gross (before tax).

Related: Minimum Wage in The Netherlands [Complete 2023 Guide]

Understanding Purchasing Power

The relative value of your money, or purchasing power, is influenced by both your earnings and the cost of goods and services. The Netherlands boasts a high standard of living, and while some services or products might appear pricier than what you’re accustomed to, others can be surprisingly affordable.

Always think in terms of what a Euro can get you here, compared to what your home currency could fetch you back home.

Housing and Accommodation

Housing and Accommodation

Securing a comfortable living space is one of the most paramount concerns when relocating or staying long-term in a new country.

The Netherlands, with its distinct blend of urban metropoles and tranquil suburbs, offers diverse housing options. However, understanding the market dynamics and associated costs is vital for making informed decisions.

Expense CategoryComparison to European Neighbors
HousingCheaper than London/Paris, pricier than Prague/Warsaw
Daily EssentialsOn par with Germany/Belgium, cheaper than Nordic countries
TransportationMore expensive than Spain/Portugal, cheaper than UK/Switzerland
HealthcarePricier than Spain/Italy, more affordable than US/Switzerland
EducationPublic education is free, international schooling comparable to major European hubs
LeisureDining is more affordable than Paris/London, pricier than Lisbon/Athens

Renting: Navigating the Dutch Rental Market

The Major Cities vs. The Suburbs

Amsterdam: The capital city and the most popular among expats, tourists, and international students alike. Given its global appeal, rental prices here tend to be the highest in the country. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center might cost anywhere from €1,200 to €1,800 per month, while the same in the outskirts might hover around €900 to €1,400.

Rotterdam & Utrecht: These cities, both rich in culture and commerce, often present slightly more affordable alternatives to Amsterdam. In the heart of these cities, expect monthly rents for a one-bedroom apartment to be in the range of €900 to €1,400, with suburban rates typically decreasing by about 20%.

Other cities: Places like The Hague, Groningen, and Eindhoven have their unique allure and can offer even more competitive prices. Exploring various cities based on your work or study location and personal preferences is always advisable.

Furnished vs. Unfurnished

Often, apartments come in two types: furnished (gemeubileerd) and unfurnished (ongemeubileerd). While furnished apartments save you the initial investment in furniture and household items, they usually command a higher monthly rent. Typically, the price difference can range from €50 to €200 more per month for a furnished space.

Buying Property: Setting Down Roots

Investing in property might be on the cards for those considering a more permanent stay. The Netherlands has an open property market, allowing foreigners to purchase without major restrictions.

Property prices, like rentals, are highest in major cities and decrease as you move towards less urban areas. As of the latest figures, Amsterdam’s average property price is about €4,500 to €6,000 per square meter, with Rotterdam, Utrecht, and other cities following suit but at slightly lower price points.

Keep in mind that when buying property, additional costs such as notary fees, transfer tax, and potential real estate agent fees will come into play. These can amount to anywhere from 5% to 10% of the property’s purchase price.

Daily Essentials

Living in the Netherlands is more than just securing a place to stay; it’s about understanding and budgeting for the day-to-day essentials that make life both convenient and comfortable. This section breaks down the costs of food, groceries, and utilities, offering a clear picture of what you can expect regarding basic expenditures.

Food and Groceries: Nourishing Your Dutch Life


The Netherlands hosts an array of supermarkets catering to varying budgets. Popular chains such as Albert Heijn, Jumbo, and Lidl offer various products, from fresh produce to household items. On average, a monthly grocery bill for a single person can be estimated between €200 to €300, although this can vary based on dietary needs and preferences.

Local Markets

Local markets, a staple in Dutch culture, are also an excellent place to procure fresh and often locally sourced products. They can sometimes offer more competitive prices for items like fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. Markets like the Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam or the Markthal in Rotterdam are not just shopping destinations but also cultural experiences.

Utilities: Keeping Your Home Running

Electricity, Water, and Heating

The Netherlands enjoys a high standard of utility services. On average, for a standard 85 m2 apartment, the combined monthly cost for electricity, heating, and water is estimated to be between €150 and €200. This can fluctuate based on factors such as insulation, personal usage habits, and the type of energy contract you choose.

Internet and Connectivity

In our digital age, staying connected is vital. The Netherlands boasts a robust and high-speed internet infrastructure. Monthly costs for an unlimited broadband connection typically range from €30 to €50. Bundling internet with TV and landline services can sometimes offer savings or added benefits.

Tips for Saving on Utilities

  • Consider energy-efficient appliances, which can lead to long-term savings.
  • Regularly compare energy providers, as switching can occasionally yield better rates.
  • Unplug devices when not in use to prevent “phantom” energy consumption.



Moving seamlessly within and between cities is a pivotal aspect of life in the Netherlands. Renowned for its efficient and punctual public transport system, the country also boasts an admirable cycling culture. Here’s a guide to understanding the transportation landscape and the costs associated with it.

Public Transportation

OV-chipkaart: Your Transport Companion

The OV-chipkaart is the universal electronic ticketing system used across buses, trams, metros, and trains in the Netherlands. It’s available in several versions:

Anonymous: Suited for occasional travelers, costing around €7.50 for the card without credit.

Personal: Tailored for residents, it can be linked with subscriptions and offers, costing approximately €7.50.

Disposable: For one-time or short-duration use, prices vary based on the type of ticket purchased.

Costs of rides depend on distance traveled, with short city journeys typically ranging from €1 to €3. Long-distance intercity train rides can vary, with a trip from Amsterdam to Rotterdam costing around €15 one-way without any subscription.

Monthly or Yearly Subscriptions

For frequent travelers, subscriptions such as the Dal Voordeel (off-peak discount) can provide 40% off train travel, priced at about €50 annually.

Local city transport providers, like GVB in Amsterdam or RET in Rotterdam, offer their monthly or yearly passes for unlimited travel within city limits. These can range from €90 to €100 per month.

Owning a Vehicle: Exploring on Your Terms


The Netherlands is often dubbed the “bicycle capital” of the world. A good quality new bike can range from €200 to €600, while second-hand bikes can be found for as low as €50 to €150. Remember, investing in good locks is essential, given occasional bike thefts.


The cost of owning a car involves the initial purchase, fuel, insurance, road tax, and maintenance. Fuel prices hover around €1.60 to €1.80 per liter for petrol. Insurance can vary significantly based on factors like age, driving experience, and car type, but expect to budget anywhere from €500 to €1,500 annually.

Parking, especially in city centers, can be costly, with rates in busy areas like Amsterdam center reaching €5 to €7.50 per hour.


Scooters or mopeds are popular for those wanting a middle ground between bikes and cars. Prices for a new scooter can range from €800 to €2,500, with electric options being pricier. Running costs, including insurance, are generally lower than cars but higher than bicycles.



Quality healthcare is a cornerstone of a nation’s well-being, and the Netherlands, with its robust and comprehensive healthcare system, stands as a testament to this. For newcomers, understanding how healthcare works, from insurance to out-of-pocket expenses, is essential for peace of mind and physical well-being.

Health Insurance: Mandatory and Comprehensive

Basic Health Insurance (Basisverzekering)

In the Netherlands, it’s mandatory for residents to have at least basic health insurance. This covers standard medical care, including visits to general practitioners, most medical procedures, and medication.

Premiums vary based on insurance providers and specific coverage, but as a ballpark figure, one can expect monthly costs between €100 to €130.

Additional Insurance (Aanvullende verzekering)

While the basic insurance is often sufficient, some may opt for additional insurance to cover things like dental care, physiotherapy, or alternative medicines.

Costs for these vary widely, but typical additional premiums can range from €5 to €50 per month, depending on the level of coverage.

Medical Services and Costs

General Practitioner (Huisarts)

Visiting a GP is often the first step for medical concerns. While covered by insurance, some may have to pay out-of-pocket and then claim reimbursements initially.

Without insurance, a standard GP visit may cost between €30 to €60.

Specialized Treatments and Medication

Costs can rise for more specific treatments, like visiting specialists or procuring certain medications. However, with the mandatory basic insurance, a significant portion of these expenses is often covered. Always verify with your insurance provider before committing to treatments.

Prescription medicines have varying costs, but with basic insurance, there’s often a cap on the amount you pay out-of-pocket.

Dental Care: Smile with Confidence

Regular dental check-ups or treatments are generally not covered under the basic health insurance. A routine check-up might cost between €20 to €40, with treatments like fillings, root canals, or braces being pricier.

Considering additional dental insurance might be beneficial if dental care is a priority.

Education and Schools

Embarking on an educational journey in the Netherlands presents many opportunities for individuals and families moving with children. The country boasts a high-quality education system, from primary schools to renowned universities.

Let’s delve into understanding the structure, costs, and considerations associated with education in the Netherlands.

Schooling Structure: Foundations to Higher Learning

Primary and Secondary Education

Primary Education (Basisonderwijs): Catering to children aged 4 to 12, primary schools lay the groundwork for a child’s academic journey. Attendance is mandatory from the age of 5.

Secondary Education (Voortgezet onderwijs): Post-primary education, students move on to various forms of secondary schools, determined by their academic performance and inclinations. This stage lasts until the age of 18.

Higher Education

Comprising of universities, applied sciences institutions, and specific research centers, the Netherlands’ higher education sector is diverse and prestigious. Institutions like the University of Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, and Erasmus University Rotterdam are globally recognized.

Cost Implications

Public Schools

Public education, funded by the government, is essentially free for residents. However, parents might incur some costs for things like school trips, books, or certain extracurricular activities.

International and Private Schools

Catering primarily to expats or those seeking an international curriculum, these schools often come with higher fees. Annual tuition can range from €5,000 to €20,000, based on the institution and the level of education.

Higher Education for International Students

While Dutch nationals benefit from subsidized tertiary education fees, international students will face higher tuition. Annual fees for bachelor’s programs can be anywhere from €6,000 to €15,000, while master’s programs might range from €8,000 to €20,000, depending on the course and university.

Language of Instruction and Integration

Most public schools instruct in Dutch, making them suitable for longer stay families. However, international schools typically offer instruction in English or other major languages.

For newcomers, especially children, integration programs or bridge classes are available to help them acclimatize to the Dutch language and culture.

Leisure and Entertainment

The Netherlands, with its rich history, diverse cultural scene, and plethora of recreational activities, ensures that one’s leisure time can be as fulfilling as one’s professional or academic pursuits. From canal-side cafes in Amsterdam to cycling trails in the countryside, there’s an array of options to unwind, engage, and entertain. Here’s an insight into what leisure and entertainment in the Netherlands might cost.

Arts and Culture: Tapping into Dutch Heritage

Museums and Galleries

The Netherlands is home to some iconic museums, like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Anne Frank House. While entry fees vary, visitors typically expect to pay between €10 to €20 for major museums. Discounts or combined tickets might be available for multiple attractions.

The Museumkaart, or Museum Card, priced around €65 annually, offers unlimited access to hundreds of museums nationwide, representing excellent value for enthusiasts.

Theater and Music

There’s a wide range in ticket prices, from classical concerts at Concertgebouw to contemporary performances at pop venues. While top-tier performances might cost upwards of €50, there are often more affordable options or last-minute deals for around €15 to €30.

Outdoor Recreation: Embracing the Dutch Landscape


A beloved national pastime, cycling is both a mode of transport and leisure. Renting a bike for a day can cost anywhere from €8 to €15, depending on the city and type of bicycle.

Parks and Nature Reserves

While most city parks are free to enter, national parks or specific nature reserves might have a nominal entry fee, usually under €10. Activities like guided tours or boat rides might carry additional charges.

Eating Out and Nightlife

Restaurants and Cafes

Dining options in the Netherlands cater to varied budgets. A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between €20 to €40 per person, while upscale dining experiences can go upwards of €70. Cafe culture is also prominent, with a coffee or tea typically costing between €2 to €4.

Bars and Nightclubs

A beer or wine in most bars might set you back by €3 to €6. Nightclubs, especially in bustling cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, might have entry fees ranging from €5 to €20, not including drink prices inside.

Cinemas and Events

Watching a movie is a popular leisure activity. Standard cinema tickets hover around €9 to €14, with surcharges for premium formats or seats. Depending on the scale and location, special events, festivals, or workshops might have varying costs.

Tips for Living on a Budget in The Netherlands

Tips for Living on a Budget in The Netherlands

While offering a vibrant cultural and urban life, the Netherlands also presents opportunities to live economically without compromising on the quality of experiences. If you’re looking to stretch your euros further, here are some practical tips to help you navigate Dutch living without breaking the bank.

1. Embrace the Cycling Culture

Not only is cycling quintessentially Dutch, but it also cuts down on transportation costs. A one-time investment in a good bicycle can save you significant amounts on fuel, public transport, or car maintenance.

2. Shop at Local Markets

Local ‘markt’ or weekly markets offer fresh produce, cheese, flowers, and other essentials, often at lower prices than supermarkets. Popular ones include Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam or Binnenrotte Markt in Rotterdam.

3. Use Discount Cards and Subscriptions

The OV-chipkaart offers savings for frequent public transport users.

For museum lovers, the Museumkaart provides unlimited access to hundreds of museums for an annual fee.

Many restaurants and cafes offer loyalty cards that can accumulate points or discounts for regular patrons.

4. Opt for Shared Housing or Living Outside City Centers

Shared accommodations or looking for housing slightly outside of city centers can significantly reduce rental costs. Plus, with the efficient public transport system, commuting is relatively hassle-free.

5. Make Use of Second-hand Shops

The Dutch have a thriving second-hand culture. Stores like “kringloopwinkels” offer everything from furniture to electronics at a fraction of the original price.

6. Tap into Student Discounts

If you’re a student, always carry your student ID. Many establishments, from cinemas to eateries, offer discounts to students.

7. Cook at Home

Dutch cuisine is hearty and often simple to make. Cooking at home not only lets you enjoy authentic Dutch flavors but also saves on dining out costs.

8. Monitor Deal Websites

Websites like for second-hand deals, or for discounts on services, dining, and entertainment can offer substantial savings.

9. Use Libraries and Community Centers

Local libraries are not just for borrowing books. They often host free events, workshops, or classes. Similarly, community centers can be hubs for affordable activities or meetups.

10. Stay Informed about Free Events

From festivals in the summer to free concerts or events in local squares, there’s always something happening in Dutch cities. Keep an eye on local listings or community boards.

Living in the Netherlands on a budget doesn’t mean skimping on experiences. By making informed choices, leveraging local resources, and occasionally embracing the Dutch way of life, you can enjoy a rich and fulfilling experience without undue financial strain. It’s all about balance, awareness, and a sprinkle of local know-how.


Pieter van der Meer, our Lifestyle Coordinator at, embodies the vibrant and diverse Dutch lifestyle. Born and raised in Utrecht, Pieter has a deep-rooted love for his homeland, which reflects in his in-depth knowledge of the Netherlands’ culture, traditions, and lifestyle.

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