Don’t Move To The Netherlands: Here Are The Reasons Why

Are you considering moving to the Netherlands, the gorgeous country of tulips, windmills, cheese, and bikes? Do you believe that it is a perfect place to live and work? If so, you might want to think again. Don’t move to the Netherlands because you might be disappointed and frustrated for many reasons.

In this article, we will explore more reasons why you shouldn’t move to the Netherlands, like you have to learn Dutch, have high taxes, and deal with Dutch directness.

1. High taxes for Dutch People

stressed man calculating tax

One of the reasons why you shouldn’t move to the Netherlands is the high taxes. The Netherlands has one of the highest tax rates in the world, ranging from 37% to 52%, depending on your income level, according to Expatica.com.

You will have to pay taxes on your income, property, savings, investments, and consumption. You might wonder where all your money goes and if living in such an expensive country is worth it.

The Dutch government claims that high taxes are necessary to finance the country’s public services and benefits, such as health care, education, social security, infrastructure, etc.

However, you might not be satisfied with the quality or availability of these services and benefits, especially if you compare them with other countries. For example, you might find that the healthcare system is not as good as you expected or that the education system is not as flexible or diverse as you hoped.

Disadvantages for Tourists and Expats Moving to The Netherlands

Expats who speak English might not be able to enjoy the benefits of the Dutch system if they are not a resident or a citizen of the country. If you are a foreigner living in the Netherlands, you might face some difficulties or disadvantages when it comes to accessing or applying for some services or benefits.

  1. Higher Health Insurance Costs: Expats may need to pay more for health insurance compared to Dutch citizens.
  2. Limited Access to Social Security Programs: Some social security programs might not be accessible to expats, potentially leading to a lack of financial support during certain situations.
  3. Bureaucracy and Paperwork: Dealing with the Dutch government or institutions may involve navigating bureaucratic processes and paperwork, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.
  4. Restricted Tax Benefits: Expats might be unable to take advantage of certain tax deductions or exemptions available to Dutch citizens or companies, potentially leading to higher tax burdens.
  5. Higher Taxes for Foreign Income: Those working for foreign companies or earning income from abroad could face higher taxes compared to those employed by Dutch companies or earning income within the country.
  6. Double Taxation: In the absence of a tax treaty between countries, expats might be required to pay taxes in both their home country and the Netherlands on the same income, leading to financial strain.
  7. Global Asset and Earnings Reporting: Expats may be obligated to report their worldwide assets and earnings to Dutch tax authorities, which can be intricate and time-intensive.

In addition, you might not be able to save much money or invest wisely in the Netherlands due to the high taxes and the high cost of living. The prices of goods and services in the Netherlands are very high compared to other Western European countries.

Overview of Tax Rates for Dutch People

Tax rates

According to the OECD Tax Database, the Netherlands has a progressive income tax system, meaning that the tax rate increases as the income level rises.

Example Tax Rates

  1. Income up to €20,142: Tax rate around 9.45%.
  2. Income between €20,142 and €68,507: Tax rate around 37.1%.
  3. Income above €68,507: Tax rate around 49.5%.

It’s important to note that these percentages are based on taxable income after deductions.

Comparisons with Other Countries

Comparing tax rates between countries can be complex due to differences in tax structures, deductions, and social systems. However, as of 2021, here’s a general sense of how Dutch income tax rates compare to a few other countries:

  • United States: The U.S. has a progressive tax system as well. In 2021, the highest federal income tax rate was 37% for individuals above $518,400 (for single filers).
  • United Kingdom: The UK also employs a progressive tax system. In 2021, the highest income tax rate was 45% for individuals above £150,000.
  • Germany: Germany has a progressive tax system. In 2021, the highest federal income tax rate was 45% for individuals above €270,500.

Our advice: if you are looking for a low-tax or tax-friendly country to live and work in, the Netherlands might not be your best choice. You might be better off moving to another country with lower taxes and a lower cost of living.

2. The Weather

grey sky in the Netherlands

In a small country known for its picturesque landscapes, the weather can wield a surprising influence on tourists and expats. While offering the allure of tulips and enchanting canals, the Netherlands also greets newcomers with its grey sky and unpredictable weather. For those envisioning a sunny escape, the reality can be quite different, potentially dampening the experience of many who seek a proper job or the chance to forge good friends.

The Netherlands experiences a temperate maritime climate characterized by mild summers, relatively cool winters, and significant yearly rainfall. The country’s weather is heavily influenced by its proximity to the North Sea and the prevailing westerly winds.

Seasonal Variations:

Summer (June – August)

During the summer months, the Netherlands enjoys relatively mild temperatures with average highs ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). However, heatwaves can occasionally push temperatures higher. Rainfall is moderate during this season, and there are often sunny days. The summer is a popular time for tourism and outdoor activities.

Autumn (September – November)

Autumn brings cooler temperatures, with average highs gradually decreasing from around 18°C (64°F) in September to 9°C (48°F) in November. Rainfall increases during this season, and overcast days become more common. The vibrant fall foliage attracts many visitors, especially in October.

Winter (December – February)

Winters in the Netherlands are relatively mild compared to some other European countries, with average temperatures ranging from 2°C to 6°C (36°F to 43°F). It’s not freezing cold, but snowfall is possible, but it’s often limited and doesn’t stay for long. Rain is frequent, and fog can sometimes affect visibility. Winter sports enthusiasts may need to travel to more mountainous regions to find snow-covered landscapes.

Spring (March – May)

Spring is marked by gradually warming temperatures and increasing daylight hours. Average highs rise from around 9°C (48°F) in March to 15°C (59°F) in May. Spring is also known for its variability – sunny and warm days can be interspersed with cooler and rainy ones. The famous tulip season begins in April, attracting tourists to the colorful flower fields.

Rainfall and Cloud Cover in Europe

rain in the Netherlands

The Netherlands experiences significant rainfall throughout the year, with an annual average ranging from 700 to 1000 millimeters. Cloud cover is quite common, contributing to the country’s reputation for overcast days. The cloud cover can also moderate temperature fluctuations, preventing extreme cold in winter and intense heat in summer.

Wind Influence:

The country’s coastal location means that strong winds are common, particularly during autumn and winter. The prevailing westerly winds, influenced by the North Sea, can bring in moisture and affect the weather patterns.

The weather, while setting the tone for your outdoor experiences, is just a small piece of the puzzle. Embracing Dutch culture and its quirks, including the taste of Dutch beer and the charm of the major cities, means immersing yourself in the broader tapestry of Dutch life. So, before you embark on your journey to the Netherlands, arm yourself with knowledge, patience, and an open mind.

3. Car Ownership is Expensive

Cars in the Netherlands

Car ownership in the Netherlands might seem like an unnecessary extravagance in a country with separate cycle lanes weaving through its vibrant cities and charming countryside. This is especially true when you consider that the Northern European nation is renowned for its efficient and extensive public transport system. Yet, for expats arriving from Eastern Europe or beyond, the cost of maintaining a vehicle here could deliver a culture shock.

The housing crisis in many Dutch cities and the need for spacious parking make urban living a challenge for those accustomed to a more car-centric lifestyle.

Moreover, the income tax and associated expenses can make car ownership a bit pricey, particularly when considering alternatives. Picture this: cozy coffee shops on every corner, the convenience of speaking English, and a freezing cold climate that encourages snuggling up indoors rather than braving the traffic.

As you weigh the pros and cons of car ownership in a land where bikes are often favored over cars and public transport is a well-oiled machine, think about whether the freedom of the road is worth the financial commitment.

The Dutch experience extends beyond the steering wheel, encompassing the charm of public transport journeys and the practicality of cycling through picturesque landscapes. So, before you decide to bring your car along for the ride, consider the broader context of life in the Netherlands.

Average Car Ownership Cost in The Netherlands

man inspecting his car

According to DutchReview.com, the average cost of car ownership in the Netherlands is about €455 a month or €5,460 a year for a new petrol car. This includes the purchase price, depreciation, fuel, repair, maintenance, insurance, and taxes.

The cost varies depending on the car’s type, age, and size, as well as the driver’s age and driving habits. For example, a new SUV can cost €647 a month, while a five-year-old compact car can cost €336 a month. Diesel cars are more expensive than petrol cars in the Netherlands, with an average monthly cost of €700.

Also read: Living in the Netherlands vs Switzerland.

Breakdown of Average Car Ownership Costs:

Purchase Price and Depreciation:

  • Purchase Price: €25,000
  • Annual Depreciation: Approximately 15% of the purchase price, or €3,750

Fuel:

  • Monthly Fuel Cost: Around €150
  • Annual Fuel Cost: Approximately €1,800

Insurance:

  • Monthly Insurance Cost: Approximately €75
  • Annual Insurance Cost: Around €900

Maintenance and Repairs:

  • Monthly Maintenance and Repair Cost: Approximately €50
  • Annual Maintenance and Repair Cost: Around €600

Taxes:

  • Annual Vehicle Tax: Approximately €200
  • Annual Road Tax: About €150
  • Total Annual Taxes: Around €350

Parking Fees:

  • Monthly Parking Fees: Approximately €50
  • Annual Parking Fees: Around €600

Interest on Loans:

  • If financed, interest costs can vary widely based on loan terms.

Opportunity Cost:

  • This is subjective and depends on individual investment choices.

Total Annual Cost: Adding up the above components:

• Depreciation: €3,750

• Fuel: €1,800

• Insurance: €900

• Maintenance and Repairs: €600

• Taxes: €350

• Parking Fees: €600

Total Annual Cost of Car Ownership: Approximately €7,000

Comparison with Public Transportation:

• Monthly Public Transportation Pass: €50 to €100

• Total Annual Cost of Public Transportation: €600 to €1,200

Comparison with Bicycling:

• Initial Investment in Bicycle: €100 to €500 (average)

• Annual Maintenance and Repairs: €50 to €100 (average)

• Total Annual Cost of Bicycling: €150 to €600

These numbers provide a rough estimate of the cost of car ownership compared to public transportation and bicycling. Keep in mind that these figures can vary based on factors like the type of car, driving habits, insurance coverage, location, and individual preferences.

It’s important to tailor the comparison to your specific situation and priorities.

Popular Cars In The Netherlands

Volkswagen Golf

In the Netherlands, popular cars reflect the nation’s efficient and eco-conscious ethos. While smaller vehicles dominate urban centers, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, rural areas lean toward more spacious options. Electric cars are gaining traction, aligning with the country’s commitment to sustainability.

Public spaces and Dutch city planning cater to bicycles and compact cars, epitomizing the Netherlands’ reputation as a cycling haven. European manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are commonly seen on the roads. Here are the popular vehicle models in the Netherlands:

• Volkswagen Golf

• Ford Focus

• Opel Corsa

• Peugeot 208

• Renault Clio

• Toyota Corolla

• Kia Niro

• BMW 3 Series

• Volvo XC40

• Audi A3

• Nissan Qashqai

• Hyundai Kona

• Mercedes-Benz A-Class

• Mazda CX-5

• Skoda Octavia

• Suzuki Swift

• Citroen C3

• Tesla Model 3

• Honda CR-V

• Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper

Notably, Dutch preference aligns with global trends toward electric and hybrid models. From city commutes to general practitioner visits, cars in the Netherlands play a pivotal role in navigating both urban and rural landscapes.

4. Difficult Parking and Expensive Taxis

Taxi in the Netherlands

Finding a parking spot in the Netherlands can feel like a quest to locate hidden treasure. The Dutch penchant for compact urban design often means limited parking options, leading some to joke that you’d need to pay architects to squeeze your car in.

However, this limitation has a silver lining, pushing many towards efficient public transportation.

Taxis can be particularly pricey here, a Dutch thing driven by high living standards and a positive attitude towards cycling and public transit.

Compared to other EU countries, the Netherlands has well-integrated public transportation systems that cover the whole country.

This makes relying on taxis less common, especially in cities like Amsterdam and other cities with intricate tram networks. Moreover, the unpredictable weather adds another layer of complexity to using taxis, urging many to explore alternative modes of transportation.

Parking Costs In The Netherlands

Parking costs in the Netherlands can give even a seasoned Dutch person pause. The tightly designed urban landscapes mean that parking spaces are often at a premium. Many locals prefer alternatives like cycling or public transportation due to convenience and cost-efficiency.

The average rate for parking on the street in a Dutch city is €2.80 per hour, but it can go up to €7.50 in some areas, according to AmsterdamFox.com. Parking garages are also expensive, ranging from €1 to €7.50 per hour depending on the location.

If you choose to drive, be prepared for potential parking fees that reflect the country’s commitment to sustainable urban planning.

In the Netherlands, the cost of parking can vary depending on the location, with higher prices in major cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam.

Here is an overview of the parking costs in the Netherlands based on a report by thingstodoinamsterdam.com.

Amsterdam:

  • On-street parking rates in the city center range from €4.50 to €7.50 per hour.
  • Parking in a parking garage can cost between €3 and €7.50 per hour, depending on the location.

Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam:

  • The average rate for on-street parking in these cities is around €2.80 per hour. Expect to pay between €3.00 and €4.00 per hour in these cities.

It’s important to note that finding a free parking spot can be challenging in the Netherlands, especially in major cities. Locals often rely on bicycles and public transport instead of cars due to the high parking rates and limited parking spaces

If you’re planning to visit the Netherlands and need to park your car, it’s recommended to consider the following:

  • Select a hotel with parking facilities.
  • Park outside the city center where parking rates may be cheaper.
  • Apply for a visitor’s parking permit, which offers discounted on-street parking rates in some cities

5. Poor Customer Service: You Have to Learn Dutch

Woman screaming at phone

When you move to the Netherlands, expect that many people speak Dutch, so don’t be surprised if you encounter challenges with customer service, even in a Dutch company. While many locals are proficient in English and speak conversational English, the emphasis on learning Dutch might lead to language barriers that affect service quality.

In a nation known for its high standard of living, the expectation for good quality extends to interactions with businesses.

However, customer service experiences might differ from what Northern European neighbors offer. It’s advisable to learn Dutch to avoid getting poor customer service.

Here are some statistics regarding customer service in the Netherlands:

  • Many people in the Netherlands complain about frustrating customer service experiences.
  • According to Statista, only 14% of respondents in the Netherlands used chatbots for customer support in 2018, which suggests that many people still prefer human interaction.
  • The Netherlands ranks relatively low in terms of social media customer service, with only a few leading social media platforms used for customer support in 2018.
  • The Dutch are known for having almost zero customer service skills, according to DutchReview.
  • Consumer confidence in the Netherlands has been relatively low in recent years, which may reflect dissatisfaction with customer service experiences.

Examples of Complaints Regarding Customer Service

customers complaining

Here are some of the complaints English speakers might encounter when moving to the Netherlands:

• Long waiting times, rude or indifferent staff, lack of flexibility or empathy, and low responsiveness to complaints or requests.

• Difficulty in finding or contacting a customer service representative, especially if they do not speak Dutch or English.

• Inadequate or misleading information, hidden fees, or unfair policies that favor the seller over the buyer.

• Poor quality or delivery of products or services, such as damaged goods, wrong orders, missing items, or late shipments.

Reasons For Poor Dutch Customer Service

Man frustrated on his phone

The reasons for poor customer service in the Netherlands may vary depending on the industry, company, and individual. However, some possible factors are:

The cultural and historical differences in Northern Europe

The cultural and historical differences between the Dutch and other nationalities. The Dutch are known for being direct, honest, and pragmatic, which may come across as blunt, rude, or insensitive to foreigners who are used to more polite, friendly, or diplomatic communication styles.

The Dutch also value independence, equality, and individualism, which may make them less willing to accommodate or compromise with others who have different needs or expectations.

The economic and social conditions of the country.

The Netherlands is one of the most expensive countries in Europe, with a high cost of living and a high tax rate. This may affect the profitability and competitiveness of businesses, as well as the income and satisfaction of workers.

Many businesses may try to cut costs by reducing staff, outsourcing services, or increasing prices. Many workers may feel overworked, underpaid, or undervalued, which may affect their motivation and performance.

The legal and regulatory framework of the country.

The Netherlands has a complex and strict system of laws and regulations that govern consumer rights and business practices. This may create challenges and barriers for both customers and businesses in resolving disputes or reaching agreements.

For example, customers may find it hard to cancel a contract, return a product, or get a refund without paying a penalty or facing a lawsuit. Businesses may find it hard to adapt to changing market demands, customer preferences, or technological innovations without violating rules or facing fines.

6. Housing Crisis in The Netherlands

Finding a house can be a significant challenge for those thinking about living in the Netherlands. With a growing number of expatriates seeking homes, competition is fierce, particularly in the country’s main cities. Finding suitable accommodations, whether for individuals, couples, or families with two children, can be a daunting task.

The housing shortage issue extends across the country but is most pronounced in the largest cities. Most people opt to live close to their places of work or study, so the demand for housing remains high. As a result, even everyday tasks like grocery shopping can be influenced by the location of one’s residence.

Living in the Netherlands is often about adapting to local customs in a country where air conditioning isn’t as prevalent due to its temperate climate.

While English speakers from different parts of the world are common, conversational English might not always be sufficient in dealing with complex housing contracts and negotiations, adding another layer of complexity, especially for expats with low income.

Whether you’re new to this country in Europe or considering a move, understanding the challenges of housing shortage is essential.

From managing dinner times to navigating urban life, housing scarcity influences many aspects of the Netherlands. It’s a dynamic that newcomers must grapple with to establish a comfortable and stable life in this intriguing and diverse country.

Housing Shortage and Waiting Times

People protesting about the housing shortage in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has been experiencing a housing shortage, particularly in major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. This shortage has led to increased waiting times for finding suitable accommodations.

There is a very long waiting list for apartments in Amsterdam, with waiting times for most people ranging from 7 to 16 years, according to WanderLustingk.com.

Challenges for Expatriates:

Expatriates often face significant challenges in securing housing due to the housing shortage. They might encounter difficulties in finding available properties within their budget and preferred location.

Also, expatriates might have language barriers and unfamiliarity with local rental processes, making navigating the housing market harder.

Average Rent Prices in Different Cities

rent prices in the Netherlands

Here are the average rent prices in different cities, according to CheckinPrice.com.

  1. Amsterdam: The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam could range from €1,500 to €2,000 or even higher in some cases. Prices are significantly influenced by the neighborhood and property type.
  2. Rotterdam: Rotterdam generally has more affordable housing options compared to Amsterdam. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment might range from €1,000 to €1,500.
  3. Utrecht: Utrecht’s rental market is also competitive, with average one-bedroom apartment rents ranging from €1,200 to €1,800.
  4. The Hague (Den Haag): The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in The Hague could be around €1,100 to €1,600.
  5. Eindhoven: Eindhoven is known for its technology and design industries. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment might range from €900 to €1,300.

7. Low salaries

A sad employee

Moving to the Netherlands might not be the ideal choice for everyone. Another notable concern is the issue of low salaries. While the Netherlands boasts a high quality of life and a strong economy, its salaries can be relatively lower compared to other parts of the world, including some European countries.

This is particularly concerning for expatriates who may find it challenging to meet their financial goals or handle the cost of living in Dutch cities. Low salaries and high tax rates make finding jobs in the Netherlands harder.

Moreover, the financial landscape can be challenging for those burdened with a student loan. While education is of high quality in the Netherlands, the cost of repaying student loans on a lower salary can be demanding.

While the country offers a rich cultural experience and picturesque landscapes, potential expats must carefully weigh the pros and cons, including the financial aspect, before deciding to move to the Netherlands.

Here is a comparison of average salaries in the Netherlands with those in other European countries or regions:

  • The average gross annual salary in the Netherlands in 2021 was approximately €36,500 (or €2,875 per month).
  • Luxembourg has the highest average annual adjusted full-time salary in the EU at €72,200, Denmark at €63,300, and the Netherlands ranks lower at €36,500, according to Eurostat.

8. Retail is Expensive

People shopping in the Netherlands

If you’re thinking about living in the Netherlands, it’s essential to be aware of potential drawbacks, including the high cost of retail.

The Dutch cities, while charming and vibrant, often come with a steep price tag for shopping. From daily essentials to luxury items, the cost of living in the Netherlands can be felt most acutely during dinner time, when grocery bills and dining out expenses can dent your budget.

While the country offers an excellent quality of life and a unique cultural experience, the expenses associated with retail and dining can catch newcomers by surprise. It’s important to consider these costs when considering a move to Dutch cities.

Dutch supermarket

While the Netherlands has much to offer, especially its picturesque landscapes and rich history, the financial aspect can significantly impact your overall experience, making it crucial to carefully evaluate whether it’s the right choice for you.

The prices of common retail items in the Netherlands have increased significantly in recent years, with some items being more expensive in the Netherlands compared to other countries. Here are some specific examples:

  • According to a study by the Dutch Consumers ‘ Association, food prices in the Netherlands have risen by an average of 15% over the past six months. This has resulted in consumers visiting multiple supermarkets to find the best prices.
  • The Netherlands has seen a rapid increase in inflation rates, with consumer goods, ticket prices, and services being 16.8% more expensive in October 2022 than a year earlier.
  • The average per capita spending on clothing and shoes in the Netherlands is estimated to be $1,201.89 in 2021, which is higher than the EU average.

Read about the quality of life in the Netherlands in this post.

9. A Dutch Person Is Brutally Honest

Dutch person walking

The renowned Dutch directness, often misconstrued as rudeness by random strangers, can be a cultural adjustment. Imagine being in a waiting room with straightforward questions about your job market prospects or life choices. Although rooted in honesty, this cultural trait can be disconcerting for those unaccustomed to such candor.

As you contemplate moving to the Netherlands, remember that understanding Dutch people goes beyond learning Dutch. Navigating the labyrinthine nuances of Dutch customer service or engaging with Dutch kids requires more than just language skills.

Dutch people drinking

Some expatriates have reported nasty experiences in the Netherlands due to the Dutch people’s directness and bluntness, according to a study by learndutch.org. For example, some expats have reported being asked personal questions or receiving harsh criticism from Dutch people.

Forming meaningful connections and making Dutch friends could demand time and effort, as the Dutch often prioritize longstanding relationships over casual interactions.

Keep in mind that some people in the Netherlands speak English fluently. However, the official language is still Dutch, and navigating daily life might require some proficiency. The cultural aspect also includes culinary habits such as consuming raw herring, which might not suit everyone’s palate.

Final Thoughts About Don’t Move To The Netherlands

In conclusion, while the Netherlands offers a unique cultural experience and many advantages, several factors should be considered before making the move.

High taxes, unpredictable weather, expensive car ownership, and challenges with parking and transportation could impact your lifestyle. Additionally, the scarcity of housing, relatively low salaries, high food and retail costs, and the renowned Dutch honesty might not align with everyone’s preferences. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

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