Netherlands vs. Denmark: Which Country Is Better for Living?

People riding a bike near the river

When you look up what countries are best for relocating, you will notice that the Netherlands and Denmark are always on the list. The OECD Better Life index scores of these two countries are both above average, making them suitable if you want to experience quality living. 

Denmark is better for living due to several factors. It’s 15.5% more affordable to live here compared to the Netherlands. Aside from that, Denmark also has a higher life quality index, which is 7.5/10 (7/10 for the Netherlands). 

Nonetheless, the country you should relocate to should be based on your preferences and capacity. Doing so can ensure that you’ll be able to maximize your life. Knowing more about the differences between Denmark and the Netherlands can help you make the best choice, so read this article until the very end! 

Also read this article about the main reasons why you shouldn’t move to Denmark.

Living in the Netherlands vs. Denmark

A windmill near a lake at sunset

A Dutch or a Dane- which one do you prefer to be? It’s okay if you still don’t have a clear choice between living in the Netherlands or Denmark. 

We understand that you need to consider many things, which may get a bit overwhelming, so we summarized the main differences between the two countries here. Who knows? Maybe after you finish this article, you’ll get a clearer idea of which country you want to live in.

Cultural differences

At first glance, it may seem like the culture in Denmark, and the Netherlands are similar. Yes, that is quite right, but if you look closely, you will notice that they also have their fair share of cultural differences. 

Nothing is more important to the Danes than their families. Ideally, they want to be able to manage their work-life balance, so they do not have to neglect their families in the process. As they value their family time, they dislike being overworked. 

Moreover, friends are always welcome at their house. However, they also do not make friends easily. Before they open up to a person, they take their time to get to know them.

In contrast, Dutch people love to talk about themselves. They share their opinions with everyone and are not shy to express them. Also, they will not hesitate to open up to someone they have just met. Furthermore, they work longer hours than Danes.

There is also an excellent reputation for peace among both countries. The open-mindedness of the locals makes them an ideal place for people of all faiths and beliefs. You can live peacefully anywhere, not just in major cities. Human rights are available to everyone in any city. 

Another common ground between these two countries is biking. Cycling is a passion for both Danes and Dutch people. There are bikes on every street in every city.

Every day, workers across different industries use bicycles to commute to work. However, Copenhagen in Denmark ranks highest in terms of bicycle friendliness.

Also read this guide on living in the Netherlands vs the UK.


The people of Denmark and the Netherlands both speak the Germanic language, and they are both very difficult to learn.

Yet, Danish belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European family, whereas Dutch comes from the West Germanic branch.

As a result, the two vocabularies are incomprehensible to each other. The Dutch language and Danish vocabulary only have a few similarities.

Despite having different languages, the two nations share the ability to speak English fluently. The Netherlands and Denmark both have a large population of English speakers. 

English largely influences Danish and Dutch vocabulary. While English has influenced other Nordic vernaculars like Norwegian and Swedish, it has a special connection with Dutch since they both come from the same group of languages.

Therefore, you will have no problems communicating with the natives even if you don’t know Dutch or Danish.

Quality of life

A boat with tourist on a river

Based on an analysis of 128 countries, Denmark ranks first in quality of life. According to the 2017 Social Progress Index study, 50 different indicators are used to assess a country’s performance, and it claims to be the first independent measure of the quality of life based on social and environmental outcomes.

It encompassed three dimensions of social progress: basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunities.

Out of 20 countries that topped the Quality of Life Assessment, Denmark ranks first, while the Netherlands occupies the seventh place. 

In several categories, Denmark scored over 95%, including access to information and communications, nutrition, food, and basic medical care. As for personal safety, environmental quality, and personal choice and freedom, it scored 89% or higher, said the Lovely Planet

Although outranked by Denmark, the Netherlands also has an amazing approach to life. The quality of life in the Netherlands is one of the most important factors for attracting international companies and individuals who are looking for a new home.

The Netherlands is a great place to live and work, not just based on anecdotes but also based on ranking data. In the United Nations Happiness Report, the Netherlands is ranked the sixth happiest nation in the world. Furthermore, Eurostat ranks it among the happiest countries in Europe. 

The organization OECD has reported that the Netherlands has the best work-life balance globally. Several OECD indicators rank the Netherlands above average, including employment, health, housing, and subjective well-being. According to statistics, 87.3% of the Dutch rate their life as 7/10 or better.

Cost of living

The Netherlands’ average cost of living is 7.96% lower than Denmark’s. However, rent prices in the Netherlands are 17.93% higher than in Denmark. In the end, when considering all expenses involved, the cost of living in the Netherlands (€1,685) is about the same as in Denmark (€1,671).

The Netherlands ranked 18th, while Denmark ranked 20th on the list of the most expensive countries worldwide

Here’s an overview of the usual costs in both countries:

Cost of living for one person€1,671€1,685
Cost of living for a family€3,955€4,021
One person rent€882€1,010
Family rent€1,611€1,702
Food expenses€528€429
Transport expenses€109€118
Source: livingcost.org


Denmark’s average employee earns €5,894 per month before taxes. This amount includes pensions and is based on standardized hourly earnings converted into full-time monthly salary.

Here’s a table showing the list of top-paying industries in Denmark

IndustryAverage salary per year (Danish krone)
Legal and Paralegal902,034
Energy and Environment867,991
Financial Services847,585
Executive Management793,340
Program and Project Management684,777
Finance Control677,997

Read more about salaries in Denmark in our guide. Besides, you should read this article on in-demand jobs in Denmark if you are thinking of working there.

On the other hand, the average salary in the Netherlands is just about €3,000 before taxes or €2,400 net. Approximately 50% of all employees earn less than €5,590 a month on average.

Here are the top-paying jobs in the Netherlands:

PositionAverage salary per month (€)
Chief Executive Officer14,545
IT Director11,234
Country Manager or Director10,926
Managing Director10,012
Leasing Director9,800
Economic or Financial Manager9,383
Air Traffic Controller9,196
Technical Director9,032
Pilot Transport9,024
Head of Legal Department8,974
Source: paylab.com

Check out this post on finding a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner.


Expats from the Netherlands (and perhaps others) moving to Denmark will be most concerned about taxes. Denmark has a 25% VAT, whereas the Netherlands only has a 19% VAT. 

In both Denmark and the Netherlands, income taxes are bracketed for the first X EUR or DKK; each country defines three or four brackets. In the Netherlands, the highest percentage is 52%, while in Denmark, it’s 62%. 

In the Netherlands, expats can save on taxes if they are eligible for the 30% tax rule.


In Denmark, most healthcare services are free of charge and available to all residents. The national legislation ensures that diagnosis and treatment are provided within certain time limits and that patients have the right to choose which hospital they wish to receive treatment at.

Complaint procedures and compensation for injuries caused by healthcare services are governed by a comprehensive set of legal rights.  

In certain limited circumstances, citizens who are in need of hospital care may freely choose any public or private hospital.

A patient has the right to extended freedom of choice of a hospital if the region cannot ensure that treatment will begin within 30 days. In other words, patients may choose private or public hospitals in Denmark or abroad.    

The regions must also ensure that all patients referred to hospitals are assessed for diagnosis within one month of their referral.

A detailed plan for further investigation of the patient’s health problem must be provided if, for medical reasons, the patient cannot be assessed within one month. This might involve further testing at another hospital.

On the other hand, social health insurance in the Netherlands combines public and private insurance. Residents are required to purchase statutory health insurance from private insurers, which must accept all applicants. Read about the cost of health insurance in the Netherlands.

Premiums, tax revenues, and government grants are the primary funding sources. Healthcare priorities are determined by the national government, which monitors access, quality, and costs. 

As part of the standard benefits, patients have access to hospital care, physician care, home nursing care, mental healthcare, and prescription drugs.

Depending on the service or drug, adults have to pay a premium, an annual deductible, and coinsurance or copayments. Consequently, children under 18 are covered by the government.

Best cities to live in

A neighborhood in the countryside

The best cities to live in Denmark include Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, and Vejle. Whereas the cheapest ones are Holstebro, Sonderborg, Viborg, Haderslev, and Silkeborg.

Copenhagen is ranked in the top 15 most expensive cities across the globe and in Europe as well. Due to the high salaries paid to skilled workers in this city, the high cost of living eventually becomes unnoticeable after a while. 

Further, Copenhagen is regarded as a “happy” city. The air and water are also considered safe. In terms of cultural attractions, you can explore everything from ancient Viking history to modern art collections. It boasts many green spaces, excellent waterways, and beautiful residential neighborhoods.

Plus, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste buds with a variety of exciting and modern eateries and restaurants.

As for the Netherlands, the best cities to live in include Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and Eindhoven.

Amsterdam is a vibrant cultural melting pot with more than 180 nationalities calling it home. Moreover, it’s regarded as one of the best places to live in Europe.

Known as the quintessential Dutch city, it boasts picturesque canals, tall buildings with famous facades, and ubiquitous bicycles. 

There are plenty of things you can do in Amsterdam if you want to have a great time. There are beautiful parks, coffee shops, cafes, world-renowned museums, and a legendary nightlife scene just a few steps away from your front door, so you will never run out of things to do. 

Throughout the year, there are a number of cultural festivals that provide endless entertainment to the public. There is no doubt that Amsterdam is a trendy city to live in, which is why the housing prices in the city are among the highest in the country. 

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