Tulips, clogs, and coffee are just some of the things expats love about the Netherlands, followed closely by education, work, and transport options.
The Netherlands is often mentioned in popular media with reference to Neverland, the home of beloved children’s character Peter Pan. And indeed, recent survey results suggest that, for expats, the Netherlands is not far from the idyllic paradise of the child protagonist’s country. And due to the lack of pirates and crocodiles, it is certainly safer, with an astounding 96% of participants feeling out of harm’s way.
It is not only a safe country, but one in which expats can easily go exploring, as 95% of respondents agree that the transport infrastructure is good. Placing 14th of 61 countries in the Quality of Life Index, the one thing that actually drags the Netherlands down is the weather. Only 3% of participants deemed it to be very good.
Families in the Netherlands
In the Family Life Index, the Netherlands ranks 14th of 34. Standing on equal footing with the global averages for childcare and family life, its education system is, for expats, something to be noted. Next to international schools (39%), respondents particularly favor local state schools (45%).
This decision correlates with the fact that 70% of expat parents believe the standard of education their children are receiving is either good or excellent in the Netherlands against the global average of 46%. Furthermore, over four-fifths (85%) consider their children safe and healthy whereas the worldwide average is only 72%.
Settling In in the Low Country
Regrettably, the fairytale (somewhat) ends here. Even though the largest percentage of those moving to the Netherlands do so for love (17%), it seems that expats have a more difficult relationship with the rest of the country’s population.
Throughout the world, 27% of expats either agree or even completely agree that making friends with the locals in their resident countries is easy, while just over half this percentage of respondents in the Netherlands (14%) feel the same.
Moreover, only 54% of participants find some sense of home and belonging in the Netherlands, which falls short of the global average of 63%. These facts already begin to explain why the Netherlands is found in the bottom third of the Ease of Settling In Index, coming 42nd out of 61.
For many countries, this distance between expatriates and the resident country/population can be explained by a language barrier. However, the same cannot be said for the Netherlands, where only 28% find the language difficult to learn and only 21% say that it can be hard to live in the country without speaking the local tongue.
Working for Captain Hook or Peter Pan?
Although the country draws the romantic, it looks like expats have also fallen in love with the Netherlands’ working conditions. Ranking 11th of 61 on the Working Abroad Index, expats report a better work-life balance than the worldwide average. Over two-thirds (69%) are either satisfied or completely satisfied, compared to 63% on the global scale.
The Netherlands matches worldwide averages for nearly all aspects of the Personal Finance Index. It settles at 32nd of 61, just missing a place in the top half of this index. However, while 35% of expats the world over find the cost of living to be either good or very good, only 24% of respondents in the Netherlands express a similar sentiment.
InterNations conducted the Expat Insider Survey 2014, completed by close to 14,000 expatriates, which makes it the biggest expat survey ever conducted! It aims to provide a comprehensive picture of life abroad: Focusing on the general quality of life, it identifies the most popular expat destinations. Topics covered include work, family, relationships and romance, leisure, and personal finances.