Living in the Netherlands vs UK: Which Country Suits You Best?

Living in the Netherlands vs UK: Which Country Suits You Best?

Have you ever found yourself caught in the dilemma of choosing between the Netherlands and the UK for your next big move? If so, you’re not alone. The decision of living in the Netherlands vs UK is a complex one, with numerous factors to consider.

From the bustling city life of London to the tranquil canals of Amsterdam, both countries offer unique experiences that can cater to different lifestyles. But how do you decide which one is right for you? Is it the cost of living Netherlands vs UK that matters most to you? Or perhaps you’re more interested in the cultural differences, asking yourself, “Netherlands or UK, which is better?”

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key decision-making factors such as cost of living, work opportunities, quality of life, and more. We’ll compare living in the Netherlands vs UK to help you make an informed decision.

Remember the time when you had to decide between two equally appealing options and wished you had a guide to help you? Well, consider this post your guide in this exciting journey of relocation.

Stay tuned as we explore the Netherlands cost of living vs UK, the lifestyle, the people, and everything in between. By the end of this post, we hope to have given you a clearer picture of what life in these two remarkable countries can offer.

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

Cost of Living

calculator with press headlines regarding cost of living

One of the questions of expats abroad: “Netherlands cost of living vs UK?” Let’s face it, when choosing between living in the Netherlands or the UK, figuring out where your hard-earned euros or pounds will stretch the furthest is a major factor.

Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which country might be a better fit for your wallet:

Generally, the Netherlands is slightly cheaper than the UK, especially for families. Here’s a quick comparison to give you an idea:

  • For a single person: In the UK, you’d be looking at an average monthly cost of around £900 (around €1,050) excluding rent. This can vary depending on where you live – London being notoriously expensive, while Scotland might offer a more affordable option. In the Netherlands, the average cost of living for a single person is estimated to be around €2,566 per month.

  • For a family of four: The picture gets clearer. In the UK, a family of four might expect to spend around £2,268 (around €2,650) per month without rent. Again, location plays a big role – big cities like London will push this number up. In the Netherlands, families can expect an average cost of around €4,700 per month.

Here’s some specific expenses:

  • Rent: Accommodation is generally pricier in the UK, especially in major cities like London. In both countries, expect to pay more for city center living and find better deals in smaller towns. Rent prices in the Netherlands are generally 4.2% higher than in the United Kingdom. For instance, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs €2,060.38 ($2,089.92) in the Netherlands, compared to £2,060.38 ($2,565.84) in the United Kingdom. Similarly, a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center costs €1,578.55 ($1,416.25) in the Netherlands, compared to £1,578.55 ($1,352.89) in the United Kingdom.

  • Groceries: Food costs can be quite similar across Europe, with some regional variations. However, keep in mind that the UK may have a wider variety of international options, which can sometimes come at a premium. In 2023, staple food items in UK supermarkets were pricier than in Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. A basket of staples costs £20.49 in the UK, making it the second most expensive, while the Netherlands ranked fourth at £19.78. In the UK, bread, milk, and eggs averaged £1.22, £1.55, and £1.90, respectively.

  • Utilities: Utilities tend to be a bit cheaper in the Netherlands compared to the UK. The Netherlands has a reputation for energy efficiency, with average utility bills coming in around €120 per month, while the UK averages around £150 (around €175) per month.

  • Transportation: Public transport costs are comparable in both countries, with monthly passes averaging around €80 in the Netherlands and £70 (around €82) in the UK. However, cycling, the preferred mode of transport in the Netherlands, can be a significant money saver. With excellent cycling infrastructure and a flat landscape, many Dutch residents forgo car ownership altogether.

The bottom line? If affordability is your top priority, the Netherlands might be the better choice, especially for families. However, the UK offers a wider variety of cities and a potentially more vibrant social scene, depending on your preferences.

Ultimately, the answer to “Netherlands or UK: which is better?” depends on your individual priorities and lifestyle.

Read this guide on the cost of living in the UK vs the Netherlands.


stethoscope on a medical record

Both the Netherlands and the UK boast well-developed healthcare systems, but they function quite differently.

In the Netherlands, healthcare is a mix of public and private systems. You’ll be required by law to have basic health insurance, which covers general doctor visits, hospital stays, and essential medications. The good news? This basic coverage is generally quite affordable compared to other European countries. However, there might be co-pays for certain treatments, and some things like dental care might not be covered by basic plans.

“I found the Dutch healthcare system very efficient,” says Sarah, an expat teacher in Amsterdam. “Getting an appointment with my GP was easy, and the specialists I saw were all very professional. The only downside was the co-pay for my physiotherapy sessions, but overall, I felt well-cared for.” – Josh (expat in the Netherlands)

The UK operates on a National Health Service (NHS) model. Funded through taxes, the NHS provides free healthcare at the point of service for all UK residents. This is a major draw for many expats, especially those with families. However, wait times for non-urgent procedures can be lengthy, and some expats express concerns about the strain on the NHS due to increasing demand.

Dr. Patel, a healthcare researcher, points out that “the NHS is a world-renowned system, but it’s facing challenges. For expats used to private healthcare options abroad, navigating the NHS referral system might take some getting used to.”

Busy professional? NHS (UK) offers free care, but the Netherlands wins for faster access to specialists and a lighter wallet!

For extra benefits, all residents and expats can choose private insurance companies, like the world-known Cigna Global.

Quality of Life

beautiful woman relaxing outdoors

When it comes to living in the Netherlands vs UK, the quality of life is a significant factor to consider. This involves various aspects such as work-life balance, social security benefits, and environmental quality. Let’s delve into these factors to help you decide which country suits you best.

Work-Life Balance:

  • Netherlands: The Dutch are known for their focus on a healthy work-life balance. Paid vacation days are generous (averaging around 20-30 days per year), and many companies offer flexible working hours or part-time options.

  • UK: While work culture in the UK is shifting towards a better balance, it can still be quite demanding, especially in certain sectors like finance or business. Paid vacation days are typically around 25-28 days per year.

Social Security Benefits:

  • Netherlands: The Netherlands has a comprehensive social security system that provides unemployment benefits, disability benefits, and generous parental leave policies.

  • UK: The UK also offers a social safety net, but benefits may not be as generous as in the Netherlands, especially for unemployment and parental leave.

Environmental Quality:

  • Netherlands: The Netherlands is a global leader in sustainability. The country boasts a well-developed network of cycling paths, extensive public transportation options, and a strong focus on renewable energy.

  • UK: The UK has made strides in environmental protection, but air quality can be a concern in major cities like London. Public transportation is good, but not as extensive as in the Netherlands.

Cultural Considerations:

Here, a direct comparison is difficult because cultural preferences are subjective. However, some key differences might influence your decision:

  • Netherlands: Dutch culture is known for its directness and informality. The population is generally quite multicultural, especially in major cities like Amsterdam.

  • UK: British culture is known for its politeness and reserved nature. The UK is a nation rich in history and tradition, with a vibrant arts and music scene.

The answer to “Netherlands vs UK: which is better” for quality of life depends on your priorities. Do you value a strong social safety net and generous work-life balance? Then the Netherlands might be a good fit. Do you prefer a more traditional, history-steeped culture with a vibrant social scene? The UK could be your answer.

Work and Employment

bike commuter in suit going to work

So, you’ve narrowed it down to the Netherlands or the UK – fantastic choices for career opportunities! But which country best suits your professional aspirations?

Thriving Industries:

  • Netherlands: The Netherlands is a major player in several sectors, including:

    • Logistics and maritime: Home to Europe’s biggest port in Rotterdam, the Netherlands is a global logistics hub.

    • Agriculture and food processing: Dutch agriculture is known for its innovation and efficiency, with a strong focus on sustainability.

    • Technology and life sciences: Amsterdam is a booming tech hub, attracting international companies and startups.

    • Financial services: Despite Brexit, Amsterdam remains a key financial center in Europe.

  • UK: The UK boasts a diverse economy with several strong industries:

    • Finance and professional services: London is a global financial powerhouse, with a concentration of banks, insurance companies, and professional service firms.

    • Creative industries: The UK is a leader in fashion, design, and media, with London being a major center for these sectors.

    • Aerospace and defense: The UK has a long history in aerospace engineering and boasts a strong defense industry.

Finding a Job:

The job search process will vary depending on your field and experience. However, here’s a general overview:

  • Netherlands: Many Dutch companies operate in English, which can be a plus for international professionals. Networking and online job boards are popular ways to find opportunities. Work permits are generally required for non-EU citizens, but the process can be streamlined for skilled workers in high-demand sectors.

  • UK: The UK also offers a strong job market for skilled professionals. Job boards and recruitment agencies play a major role in the job search. Following Brexit, visa requirements for EU citizens have changed. Be sure to research the latest immigration regulations if you’re an EU national considering a move to the UK.

If you’re an international professional considering UK vs Netherlands, it’s important to understand the visa requirements. In the Netherlands, non-EU/EEA citizens generally need a work visa, and employers often need to provide sponsorship for this. In the UK, a Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

Here are some opinions of expats regarding work and employment in the UK and Netherlands:

  • “I found the job market in Amsterdam to be very dynamic, especially in tech,” says David, a programmer who relocated from California. “The interview process was efficient, and companies seemed to value my international experience. However, the cost of living in Amsterdam, especially housing, can be quite a shock compared to the US.” – Expat

  • “I actually started my career in London finance, but after a few years, the long hours and high cost of living got to me,” says Sarah, who now works in marketing for a tech company in Den Haag. “The Netherlands offered a better work-life balance, and while the salaries might not be quite as high as London, my money goes much further here. Plus, cycling to work every day is a major perk!” – Expat

Both the Netherlands and the UK offer promising opportunities for international professionals. The Netherlands might be a good fit if your skills lie in logistics, agriculture, or tech. The UK could be ideal if you’re in finance, creative industries, or aerospace.

To know more about it, check our article about the Best salaries in the UK. If you’re planning to stay in the Netherlands, read more about salaries in the Netherlands.


teacher with pupils in classroom

Are you thinking about raising a family or pursuing your own degree abroad? The Netherlands and the UK both boast strong education systems, but with some key differences. Here’s what each country offers in terms of schooling.

  • Netherlands: The Dutch education system is known for its focus on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Primary education is compulsory from ages 5 to 12, followed by secondary education which streams students into different tracks based on their strengths and interests. Higher education in the Netherlands offers a mix of universities and universities of applied sciences, each catering to different academic and vocational goals.

  • UK: The UK education system has a longer tradition and a more hierarchical structure. Primary education is compulsory from ages 5 to 16, followed by secondary education leading to GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education). Students then typically choose between A-Levels (advanced qualifications for university entry) or vocational courses. Universities in the UK are generally well-established, with some like Oxford and Cambridge holding prestigious global rankings.

Here’s a financial consideration regarding university fees:

  • Netherlands: Tuition fees for international students in the Netherlands vary depending on the university and program, but are generally lower compared to the UK. Think €2,000-€20,000 per year compared to potential fees exceeding £30,000 (around €35,000) per year in some UK universities.

Popular Universities:


  • University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam)

  • Delft University of Technology (Delft)

  • Erasmus University Rotterdam (Rotterdam)

  • Leiden University (Leiden)

  • Utrecht University (Utrecht)


  • University of Oxford (Oxford, England)

  • University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England)

  • Imperial College London (London, England)

  • University College London (London, England)

  • London School of Economics and Political Science (London, England)

Expat Quotes:

  • “The public schools in England are good, especially in smaller towns. But coming from Wales, the class sizes seem huge! My kids are struggling to get individual attention.” – Sarah, expat mom in Manchester.

  • “We love the international school scene in Amsterdam. Our kids get a world-class education with a multicultural environment, but let’s be honest, we’re paying half what we would for a similar school back home.” – David, expat tech worker in Amsterdam.

  • “The Dutch emphasis on practical skills is refreshing. My son learned bike repair in primary school! It’s a great change from the rote memorization in the UK.” – Emily, artist living in Utrecht.

  • “The taxes in the Netherlands are killer, but at least they go towards decent public education. My daughter’s school has amazing facilities and small class sizes, unlike the overcrowded one we had back in London.” – John, marketing manager in Rotterdam.

  • “The uniforms in Dutch schools are a bit strange! My kids miss the freedom of choosing their own clothing in England. But hey, at least there’s no fighting over what to wear in the morning.” – Claire, expat teacher in The Hague.

The Netherlands might be a good fit if you value a student-centered approach and lower tuition fees. The UK could be ideal if you prioritize established universities with global recognition.

Opinions of Expats Living in The UK and The Netherlands

Moving abroad comes with a whirlwind of adjustments, and expats often have strong opinions on their new homes. Here’s a glimpse into what some expats are saying about life in the UK and the Netherlands:

  • “I miss the cozy pubs in England,” says Michael, an American expat in Amsterdam. “The Netherlands has great cafes, but the pub culture is just different. It’s a place to unwind and chat with mates, something I haven’t quite found here yet.”

  • “Amsterdam is a cyclist’s paradise,” exclaims Sarah, a Canadian teacher living in Utrecht. “Everything is so accessible by bike, and it’s a healthy way to get around. In England, especially outside the city, a car is almost essential.”

  • “The variety of international restaurants in London is unbeatable,” says David, a French chef now living in Rotterdam. “While Dutch cuisine has its charm, I miss the ease of finding a good Thai or Ethiopian restaurant back home.”

  • “The Dutch can be a bit blunt at first,” admits Emily, an Australian artist living in The Hague. “Coming from England, I find them more direct in their communication. It takes some getting used to, but it’s honest.”

  • “The Netherlands is fantastic for raising kids,” says John, a marketing manager who recently moved his family from Manchester to Amsterdam. “There’s a real emphasis on work-life balance, and the public spaces are great for families. It feels slightly less hectic here.”

  • “London is outrageously expensive,” sighs Claire, an American expat teacher who just moved to Bristol. “Everything from rent to groceries seems cheaper in the Netherlands, especially outside of Amsterdam.”

  • “The NHS in England is a lifesaver,” says Daniel, a South African IT worker living in Utrecht. “Having access to free healthcare is a huge advantage, especially with a young family. While the Dutch system is good, it’s not quite the same.”

Moving to the UK? Here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t come to the UK.

My Opinion

Let me tell you, the whole “living in the Netherlands vs UK” debate can get pretty heated with expats! It really depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re a young, skilled worker, both countries offer great opportunities. London might have a slight edge on finance and tech jobs, but Amsterdam’s startup scene is booming too. Plus, the Netherlands is fantastic for attracting skilled workers with its relaxed immigration policies.

The cost of living can be a real deciding factor, especially in big cities like London or Amsterdam. On the whole, though, if you’re looking outside the major hubs, the Netherlands seems a bit more affordable. You could probably find a decent flat in Den Haag for half the price of a similar one in, say, Bristol or Cardiff.

Of course, there’s more to life than just money, right? The UK has a certain charm, that whole traditional pub culture and rolling green hills of England. But the Netherlands offers a different kind of beauty – canals, windmills, and a strong cycling culture. You can literally bike anywhere in most Dutch cities!

Ultimately, the best choice depends on you. Do you crave the buzz of a big, historic city, or a more relaxed, bicycle-friendly lifestyle? Personally, I think the Netherlands offers a great balance, but hey, that’s just me!

Final Thoughts About Living in The Netherlands vs UK

This blog post offers a comprehensive comparison of living in the Netherlands and the UK, helping you decide which country better suits your lifestyle. Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Cost of Living: Netherlands is generally cheaper, especially for families.

  • Healthcare: Both have good systems, but the Netherlands offers faster access to specialists and the NHS (UK) provides free care at the point of service.

  • Quality of Life: Depends on your priorities. Netherlands offers strong social safety net and work-life balance, while UK has a more traditional culture and vibrant social scene.

  • Work and Employment: Both have strong economies with various opportunities. Netherlands is good for logistics, agriculture, tech; UK is good for finance, creative industries, aerospace.

  • Education: The Netherlands is student-centered, with lower tuition fees, UK has prestigious universities.

The best country depends on your priorities. Consider what matters most to you: affordability, work-life balance, education, cultural preferences, and career opportunities.

I hope this comprehensive guide empowers you to make an informed decision about your next big move! Subscribe to our emails, and feel free to comment with your questions! Your engagement helps keep the blog afloat.

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