Differences Between Living in Canada and Netherlands

colorful commercial and residential buildings in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Canada and the Netherlands have a rich history dating back to WW2, and since then, the two countries have operated as partners in terms of investments, business, and technology advancements.  If you are looking to move to either of these countries, it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you.

To help make your decision a little easier, we’ve put together a list of some of the key differences between living in Canada and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a small country with a population of just over 17 million people, while Canada is the second largest country in the world with a population of over 38 million. The cost of living in Canada is also higher than in the Netherlands, and rent prices have been on the rise in recent years. However, salaries in Canada are generally higher as well, so it evens out.

Where you choose to live between Canada and Netherlands will be influenced by the motive behind the shift, your lifestyle, and the cost of living you can comfortably afford. This article explores the two countries in detail to establish the differences between the two and help you make an informed choice.

Also read our guide about living in Canada vs living in Germany.

Life in Canada vs Netherlands

commercial buildings in Toronto, Canada.

Geographically, Canada is larger than the Netherlands by far; Canada is bigger by more than two hundred times. The Netherlands measures 41,543 sq Km square while Canada is 9,984,670 sq km.

 The difference between the two countries is also seen in their populations. As of 2020, the Netherlands population stood at seventeen million, while Canada’s was thirty-eight million. 

There is a strikingly rich history between the Netherlands and Canada. This has led to a consistently high interaction between the two countries. The bilateral relationship saw Canada set a Dutch Heritage Day on its calendar, celebrated on May 5th.

The day was set to honor the Canadian veterans who helped in the Netherlands’ liberation during the second world war.

The bilateral relations and rich history are the far it goes. The two countries differ in various aspects, as analyzed below:

Quality of life 

The maternal mortality rate in Canada is higher than in the Netherlands. For example, in 2018, eight women in 100,000 in Canada died from child labor complications, while the number stood at five women per 100,000 in the Netherlands. 

The infant mortality rate in the two countries also varies. For example, Canada has a higher rate which stood at 4.8 as of 2020, while in the same year, it stood at 3.8 in the Netherlands.

a graph showing number of infant deaths in the Netherlands.
Source: statista.com

The infant mortality rates mean four children out of a thousand in Canada didn’t get to celebrate their first birthday, while three in the Netherlands shared the same fate.

Life expectancy in the two countries has a minimal difference of 0.2%. In 2021, the rate stood at 82.66 years in Canada, while in the Netherlands, it was 82.49 years. 

When choosing a country to shift to, you must evaluate how well the residents receive foreigners, as this greatly impacts your quality of life. Luckily, both countries are welcoming to foreigners.

For instance, if you shift to Canada from any part of the world, you would feel the warmth of the people as you automatically become Canadian. 

The Netherlands, however, seems to have some reservations about people who aren’t from European countries. This is seen in job discrimination and the difficulty of assimilation for non-Europeans.


The Netherlands terrain is largely flat, with more than half of the country being 1meter above sea level, which impacts the country’s weather patterns. 23% of the country is below sea level, which means the weather pattern is more humid in this region.

Throughout the year, the Netherlands poses an oceanic climate with the temperatures hardly going below 23 degrees Fahrenheit, even during the winter. As a result, Summers in the Netherlands are manageable as they get mildly cloudy, while the winters tend to be extensive and windy.

Below is a layout of the weather patterns in the Netherlands:

a chart showing layout of the weather patterns in the Netherlands.
A chart of Amsterdam average temperatures.
Source: climatestotravel.com

Conversely, Canada has mixed terrain, some rocky and hilly areas while others are plain. Some parts of the country are heavily forested, featuring big rivers and valleys. It’s a geographical magnificence, especially if you are fond of spotting the horizon.

Canada has four main seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter, which follow a cycle in that order. It gets extremely cold and snowy during the winter, extending to a freezing point, while the summer is short and humid. 

The long winters in Canada result from the country’s proximity to the North pole and the rocky mountains that block the air from the Pacific. As a result, only the west coast region in Canada doesn’t get to the freezing point.

Cost of living 

The cost of living in Canada is higher than that of the Netherlands by 4%. This boils down to most expenses, including housing, eating out, groceries, leisure, and sports being more expensive.

A single person in the Netherlands can afford to live in an apartment in Amsterdam by paying 1,000 EUR. However, the same person will have to pay 50 EUR more for the same apartment size in Canada.

Housing in the Netherlands can be challenging as the demand for housing is high and doesn’t match the supply. The same goes for Canada, making housing one of the biggest challenges in both countries.

Here’s a breakdown of the main expenses in both countries:

a chart showing breakdown of the main expenses in Canada and the Netherlands.
Source: livingcost.org

The inflation rate in Canada is higher than in the Netherlands, which affects the economy as it lowers the purchasing power of the citizens. 

The cost of food and groceries in the Netherlands is cheaper and easily affordable. In addition, the central location of the Netherlands makes its access to various foods around Europe countries affordable. This means eating out is more affordable in the Netherlands compared to Canada.

Here’s a breakdown:

breakdown of the cost of food and groceries in the Netherlands and Canada.
Source: numbeo.com

Dairy and wheat products are notably affordable in the Netherlands as their price ranges are below other European countries. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Canada, as at the beginning of 2022, the price of milk and dairy products rose by 14% across major cities in the country.

Visas and residence permits

The Netherlands has two residence permits: Dutch Indefinite Permit and EU Longterm Permit. Any of these permits allow you to stay in the Netherlands for as long as you wish.

To qualify for any of these permits, you must have stayed in the Netherlands for five consecutive years and have a stable source of income. The two are considered must-haves for you to pass the permanent residency exam.

You don’t need to apply for a  work permit if you are from the European Economic block. However, foreigners from outside the European Economic Area are expected to acquire a work permit before they are allowed to work in the country.

There are stringent measures to be met by foreigners outside the European Union. The potential employer must prove to the authorities that they couldn’t have gotten a match within the European Economic block.

 As an individual, you’re eligible to apply for the single permit that accords your residency and acts as a work permit. The employment permit, however, must be applied for by the potential employer.

Canada is more open to foreigners from around the world than the Netherlands. There are two types of work permits in Canada; the open work permit that allows you to work for any employer and the employer-specific permit that ties you to a particular employer.

If you plan on working in Canada for a while, you must acquire a temporary work permit where you must prove that you’ll leave once you’re done with the assignment. 

You also need to prove:

  • That you have sufficient funds to sustain you and anyone else under your care
  • Have a clean police record
  • Have all the right documents
  • The employment must be in a fitting employer, not strip clubs

It’s easier to migrate to Canada than to the Netherlands as it has several programs that allow willing foreigners to relocate easily. The programs include:

  • Express entry
  • Provincial nominee 
  • Atlantic program
  • Quebec selected a skilled workers program

You can use any befitting programs to migrate to Canada, as any channel offers a seamless process.

How does living in Canada compares to living in Switzerland?


an employer welcoming a new employee.

If you are looking for a country with more opportunities and easy to achieve the work/life balance, then you’re better placed in the Netherlands than Canada.

Netherlands’ geographical location works to its advantage, making it the center point where you can easily access any part of the European Union block from here.

The country has also devised well-formulated tactics to attract top talent from the region, such as offering favorable taxation terms for foreigners and being accorded a special visa if you prove valuable.

Rotterdam in the Netherlands is the second largest port city in the EEA, and most multinationals have their headquarters here, meaning it has more opportunities for expats. The common employment opportunities in the Netherlands are found in the following industries:

  • Engineering
  • Health sector
  • Financial sector
  • Information technology
  • Construction

What jobs are in demand in the Netherlands?

Canada has equally big opportunities, especially for the semi-skilled. Some of the common and readily available opportunities in Canada include:

  • Truck drivers
  • Farmhands
  • Laborers 
  • Caregivers
  • Welders
  • Engineers 
  • Sales managers

While the Netherlands is inclined to offer job opportunities to immigrants from the European Union area, Canada is more open to hiring people from any part of the world based on skills.


The Netherlands is known for having attractive perks. For example, in 2022, the average salary in the country was pegged at 38,000 EUR annually, according to Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB).

A single person in the Netherlands can comfortably live on a monthly net salary of 3,500 EUR, especially if you choose to live in the major cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. 

The Netherlands has good salaries for professionals who are great at their craft. Moreover, the country offers tax exemptions to retain the top talent of such foreigners. 

Read more about salaries in the Netherlands.

Canada is also keen on the remuneration of skilled foreign professionals to retain them. Some of the provinces with the best rates include:

  • Alberta
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • British Columbia
  • Toronto

Anyone earning above C$50,000 annual gross salary in Canada is in a good place as a single person. Canada, however, has a variation in the salary rates between the natives and immigrants. For instance, in 2019, the average wage rate for immigrants was C$31,900, while Canadians received C$37,500 the same year.

Canada has favorable income tax thresholds compared to the Netherlands, whose tax system is considered high. 

Below is the tax distribution in Canada:

  • Up to $50,197 of income is taxed at 15%.
  • Income between $50,197 and $100,392 is taxed at 20.5%.
  • Income between $100,392 and $155,625 is taxed at 26%.
  • Income between $155,625 and $221,708 is taxed at 29%.
  • Above $221,708, income is taxed at 33%.

The first C$49,000 is taxed at 15%, which is considered a favorable rate for the low incomers earners who are semi-skilled.

In the Netherlands, income tax is heavier on high earners as the country aims to protect low-income earners. For 2022, tax rates are as follows:

Income (EUR)Tax rate
0 to 35,4729,42%
35,472 to 69,39837,07%
over 69,39849,50%
Source: taxsummaries.pwc


The Netherlands has an applaudable universal health coverage where the government and the public join hands to give citizens access to the best health services.

Any grown-up is expected to contribute to the scheme failure to which they will be fined for the period not paid for. The scheme is functional and covers over 65% of the population, while the well-to-do opt for private health insurance. 

The government chips in and finances the health insurance cost for the young below eighteen years.

As a foreigner, ensure you are within the well documented to benefit from the coverage as undocumented migrants are not covered.

Canada, on the other hand, has a provincial-based decentralized health system known as Canadian Medicare. Respective provinces fund the scheme, but the federal government also chips based on the per-capita evaluation.

If you enjoy permanent residency, you qualify for hospital services wherever you are in the country at the point of use.

The healthcare system in Canada is publicly funded, and although the providers are self-governing, the government plays the oversight role to ensure citizens receive quality services.

In both countries, Canada and the Netherlands, we recommend the services of private insurance company Cigna Global if you choose to get private coverage. It’s the most reputable provider worldwide.

Also read: Living in the USA vs in the Netherlands.


Canada and the Netherlands have a rich history that goes back to the second world war. This makes people from the countries have striking similarities but also striking differences.

If you are an extrovert, you’ll have an easier time in the Netherlands than in Canada. The loud lifestyles in the Netherlands cities aggravate this. The cities encourage a loud life with vibrant nightlife and never-ending festivals.

Canada, on the other hand, is a bit chilled compared to the Netherlands. The nightlife in Canada is well organized and clustered. If you are the loud type, you’ll need to identify your squad, which could take time, unlike in the Netherlands.

Public transport in the Netherlands is the order of the day, with many cities using the metro, tram, rail, and trains.

Therefore, expats in the Netherlands don’t see the need to own a car. This is unlike Canada where you’ll need a car as the public transport is not as reliable.

The Netherlands has a widely known cycling culture which is commonly accepted, and the infrastructure needed to aid cycling is in place, unlike in Canada, where you’ll hardly observe someone cycling, and the cycling paths are non-existent.

Dutch people are known to communicate directly, which people not accustomed could find rude, while Canadians are polite and take their time which some could find annoying and time-wasting.


In the Netherlands, people welcome foreigners. The country has a widespread mentality of working hard and also playing hard. This lifestyle makes most cities in the Netherlands have a vibrant life.

Canadians embrace diversity and respect individuals from any part of the world. The country also has a widespread peace-loving attitude.

It’s highly multicultural, the people here enjoy the outdoors, and sightseeing is a deeply entrenched culture. Its rich natural resources make it a favorite for both natives and visitors.


Both countries have a rich food heritage; Canada has these as the common foods:

  • Lobsters
  • Bacon
  • Poutine
  • Meat pie
  • Bannock
  • Moose

Common meals in the Netherlands include:

  • Pea soup
  • Pancakes
  • Bean soup
  • Meat 
  • Potatoes
  • Bread

Eating out is a common culture in both countries. The Netherlands has a vast food industry with different levels of restaurants.

Since the country plays as the central point of the European area, the restaurants feature a multicultural outlay to accommodate the country’s different cultures. 

The prices of foodstuffs in both countries vary, with the Netherlands being slightly lower than Canada. Here’s how they compare:

prices of food in Canada and the Netherlands.
Source: numbeo.com

Best cities to live

Both countries have great cities, with those in the Netherlands being more congested and vibrant.

In telling the best cities in the country, you have to evaluate the city’s population and how well the infrastructure is set out. In addition, the availability of resources within the cities is a cue in measuring how livable the city is.

Below is the rank of the best cities in each country.

Some of the best cities in the Netherlands include:

  • Amsterdam
  • Utrecht
  • Rotterdam
  • The Hague
  • Groningen
  • Breda
  • Leiden

Canada’s best cities include:

  • Toronto
  • Quebec
  • Calgary
  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • Edmonton
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