Are you happy in the Netherlands?

I am from India but was living in Dubai for five years before moving to Rotterdam.It was a tough decision where we had a option of staying back.Coming here it's been mix reviews and have learned to be happy.You can't have everything in you platter,I know luxury is less and you need to be practical but there is peace at mind and weather wise you feel good.I have honestly intact become more health conscious coming here and keep moving everyday with new positive thought.Its too early to say how much I like here but time being yes I love this place for lots of other things.If few people don't smile back at you it's everywhere but there are out of 10 at least 6 respond back so looking forwards to find more plus points to write back again

:) I totally agree with you. I recognize your feeling

I am originally from the UK and have lived in the NL for 27 years. In my first 14 years living in Utrecht and then in Flevoland, I was very unhappy with my life there in the West. The ‘cattle mentality’ on public transport, aggressive drivers, some neighbours who didn’t talk to you (apart from wanting to know how much we received for the sale of our house when we were leaving), ‘backstabbing’ colleagues at work, long waits to get a doctor/dentist appointment, everywhere people ‘biting and fighting’ like rats in a barrel.

But I left that all behind and left Holland for good. Where did I go? I moved to the Netherlands. Actually to the north, and to Drenthe. A part of the country that many expats never see.

Is my life different now? Completely. The stress and irritation I had living in the West just evaporated as soon as we move here. And I am now a much happier person.
Why? Because I am in a completely different environment. A world away from what I left behind in Holland. For example: here, I chat with people, even those who I just bump into in the street and have never met before. I’ll walk the dog and say hello to maybe ten people. They all say hello back. A group of high school girls will wish me ‘Good Morning’ without a snigger, as they cycle past, even though I don’t know any of them or their families. In the shops, I will chat with the staff and they will ask me how my business is doing. It’s a genuine interest. I go to buy some ice cream from the ‘Ijssalon’, the lady’s husband comes out from the back, smiles, shakes my hand and invites me for a coffee at their house next door. He says that they are having a BBQ, and would I like to bring my wife and two children. I go to the bike store and the owners ask me for some new business cards, because they’ve just handed our last one out to one of their customers.

If I walk or bike just a few minutes from my home (a 200-year-old farmhouse), I have entered one of the three National Parks nearby. 15 minutes by car and there’s Friesland (the islands have some of the best beaches in the NL), or in another direction, Overijjsel, and from there, in less than half an hour is Giethoorn (the ‘Venice of the North’) and the ‘Weerriben-Wieden’ National Park (like Kakadu, but without the crocs). To the north, not much further than the Frisian border, there’s Aekingerzand – one of the most amazing places you will see in this country – a cross between the Yorkshire Moors and a desert. Great for a picnic (be careful you don’t get accosted by a sheep while eating, as they are not shy), or to go walking for hours and hours without meeting anyone (just don’t get lost like I did!) This is how I always imagined the Netherlands to be. It took me almost 15 years to find it and we gave up everything we had/did not have in the Randstad to come here, including my Dutch wife’s 15-year banking career.

Our neighbours and family in the West thought us a little mad at the time. They all said, 'Why give up the job security that you have here and take a big risk by going to a distant province, where you don’t know anyone and where the businesses you are setting up may not take off?' For me, it was the same ‘risk’ I took when I left BA at Gatwick in 1991 and moved to Maarssenbroek, near Utrecht, even though I had not done any job-hunting before I left. There was no internet and no mobile phones then of course. Job searching was done looking in newspapers and staring at cards down the ‘uitzendburo’s’. In the UK, I crewed for BA; in Holland, the only jobs I could get when I arrived in the NL was cleaning and production line work. I did both of them, while I spent 5 years learning the language and at the same time studying for the required Dutch diplomas so that I could return to tourism/aeroindustry. In 1995, four years after I arrived, I was back working for an airline in the centre of Amsterdam.

But that all seems a very long time ago now. I still do see many Dutch people from the Randstad, as they actually all stay in my house, hundreds of them per year, although they are all complete strangers to me. But I also get to meet Germans, Belgians, French, British, Irish, Americans, Canadians, Australians and nationalities from all over the world. Yes, we run a holiday home year-round here. Many of the guests I take on a walking tour of our village and explain the history, don’t ask for payment but the North Americans will always leave something on the table when they leave.

When we moved to Drenthe back in 2005, it was the height of summer. Upon seeing all the tourists biking through the village (our village population swells by 300% during summer!) I remember saying to the owner of the local supermarket when I first arrived, ‘Wow, with all this space and nature everywhere, I feel like I am on holiday here’. ‘But the difference is you now live here, welcome to Drenthe’, he said.

When I lived in the West, I became as angry as so many of the people around me. At times, I was really down and depressed. When you are surrounded by too many people who don’t seem to share the same values that you have been brought up with, you get to hate your life and you really believe that the entire country is rude, hostile and cold. It’s not true. I still live in the Netherlands but I now have a completely different life. If I go back to the Randstad for a day, I immediately notice it all again but after about an hour’s drive east, I’m back in ‘my Netherlands’.

For those of you who are unhappy living where you are, or feel trapped here (maybe you now have kids in school, or a partner who has never lived outside the NL and who doesn’t want to leave her/his family behind, you know), if you can find work outside the Randstad or wherever you are in the NL where you find that you just don’t fit, I would say, go for it. Check out the other provinces (including in the east and the south of the country), and maybe stay a weekend to get the feel of the place (even the cities up here have a different atmosphere!) And don’t let your inlaws, colleagues or neighbours talk you out of it, because they know nothing!

For those reasons I love and miss Zeeland very much.

I read the stories on this thread and as a Dutchman I am pretty amazed about the slandering of my country.
Yes we have a weird sense of humour, sometimes we can be direct and indeed we can be hard towards each other.

We also like to moan over everything. Do we mean it? No we don't.

The mentality in de "randstad" and in the rest of The Netherlands can be different indeed. But we still are the same people some of you tend to dislike.

@Ramses. A thread entitled 'Are you happy in the Netherlands?' will always unfortunately bring out a lot of posts which verge on generalization. Although what I used to read on Expatica (when the forums were active, some twenty years ago now) was much, much worse  than anything I've read on Many of the posts there were very embarrassing to read and many threads became a slanging match (a prolonged exchange of insults) between Dutch and expats.

I recently came across a similar thread as this on another expat site which really shocked me, seeing that the article is seven and a half years old and has since then attracted nearly 1,700 comments:

Reading through some of those hundreds of comments does seem to make one believe that there are (were) many unhappy expats in the NL.

But if you are not content living in an area/country, and it doesn't improve, then you need to do something about it, including maybe moving away. Although finding work somewhere else and having kids at school/your partner maybe unwilling to make the move does not make it easy sometimes.

Branding a whole country's nationals racist, rude, arrogant, aggressive and unfriendly is never good.....

A couple of points from my experience:

A lot of people will move to another country for that "better life" and then proceed to try and make life in the new country, just like it was back home ...... I think most can see where this is going to end.

A lot of people fail to do the right research.  Kids education is a good example where people move to Holland and really screw up.

As for Dutch people in general; I've never had a problem with anybody in Holland.  I know my daughter has had some issues, but I notice they appeared when she moved back and became more Dutch in her ways (RamsesK's comments are very relevant).

So maybe I've always been treated as the "buitenlander", people pitied me as I flitted in and out of the country as my work took me around the world, people perhaps treated me differently for that reason .... who knows, I certainly am not going to ask anybody. :)

What I do know (and I've said several times), there are good and bad everywhere and Holland is no different in that respect.  If you're looking for Utopia, it isn't anywhere in Holland, but it's good enough for me and my family.


I know expats can be unhappy in the Netherlands and I don't mind if it's slightly negative. But when reading some things which are pretty ignorant and generallized made me a little upset.

I know some of our customs can be a bit strange when people are new here. We don't like rules, we debate over everything, we are moaning over the weather, our culture is different that people are used to.

A lot of people where I live don't like Amsterdam, personally I dislike Amsterdam too.  So do all the Dutch dislike Amsterdam? No of course not, but some does.
Not everybody thinks the same over here.

When people are claiming our schools are bad, because they heared something on tv or they had a bad experience is a bit stupid to me.

I agree with you when people are really unhappy here, they must try their luck elsewhere.

Those comments on that news item are pretty funny to me and I take that very lightly.

For these same reasons many Dutch runaway every year to other countries.

Primadonna :

For these same reasons many Dutch runaway every year to other countries.

I'd never really considered this.  After a bit of research (internet (link for numbers), so take it at face value I guess), back in 2007, Dutch emigration had reached a figure of 123,000 p/year and were exceeding immigration figures by 7,000 p/year, this at a time when they were predicting a "greying out" of the population, with fewer people working than those in work.  Since then the net emigration figures have now increased to 154,000 p/year and the Dutch have only turned this around by accepting more immigrants to enter the country (235,000 last year).

When the figures were analysed, it revealed that men were twice as likely to emigrate as women, and it is mostly the young (under 30) who emigrate and that it was the Dutch in the top 10% of the income distribution who were most likely to emigrate, so exacerbating the financial problem facing the Netherlands.

An analysis was done to find out why people were leaving and how many more were likely to leave if nothing was done about it; it revealed that 20% of the Dutch population would leave if they could and that those who had left had absolutely no confidence in the Dutch Government ever turning this around; the table below shows the reasons why people living in Holland who had a negative view of the country and why:

White = dreamers (those who would leave if they could)
Purple = stayers (those who would stay in Holland regardless)
Blue = movers (those who were leaving)

Interestingly, it's very similar % figures for the UK and Germany.

Edited to keep it on topic.

Primadonna :

For these same reasons many Dutch runaway every year to other countries.

Zo dat klinkt wel erg zuur zeg. Ik beweer toch ook nergens dat Nederland geweldig is?

Yes I too want to live in another country for awhile, but I will come back home.

As a EU-member it's easier and so a lot of older people with AOW and a pension are leaving to countries with a warmer climate. It's a economic thing. They will come back when they need healthcare.

Some people are getting tired of the many newcomers, so yes that's an issue too.

The biggest group are leaving because of the lack of housing and the green spaces in their environment.

Also a large group says that they can't live anymore with the Dutch mentality. (They will come back)

So that's why they are leaving, but the biggest group lof incomers are people with the Dutch nationality that come back home.

Yes sometimes it's not easy to live in The Netherlands, but it's to us to change that.
I am getting tired of the growing intolerance in my country. It's sad that Geert Wilders his movement has so many followers, luckily it is decreasing because he only yells stuff and don't comes up with any answers.

So yes sometimes it's really depressing, but luckily it's not all bad.

Ramses K. :
Primadonna :

For these same reasons many Dutch runaway every year to other countries.

Zo dat klinkt wel erg zuur zeg. Ik beweer toch ook nergens dat Nederland geweldig is?

Zuur? Zijn feiten hoor! ;)
Ik beweer dat dat toch ook niet en ik beschuldig jou er ook niet van!

In every country you have positive things and less positive things. You can't change that. What you can do is to change your perception.
Most of the expats lives for a short period of time, others longer due other commitments.
But for all of you it takes time to adjust.
There will be always people who fall in love with the country while others need to have more time. And there will be always a few who can't stand it. In that case you have to consider if you want to stay or not.


Surprised that there is no 'Cost of Living' down the left side of the chart (only 'Income' is shown). You would think that one of the major reasons for emigrating from/being unhappy in the NL would be down to the high cost of living, which is of course frighteningly expensive here. Scandinavia and Switzerland are known for their high costs of living but the average salaries in those countries are much higher than in the NL.

Because as most of those expats that live here know, just about everything in the NL is more expensive than neighbouring countries. For example, the high taxation on everything from cars (bpm!) and petrol, to the ever increasing cost of energy and health care.

Only the prices in the supermarkets in the NL used to be the lowest in Western Europe, but Dutch food prices have risen a lot over the last couple of years (with some Dutch supermarket chains even having different pricing structures throughout their stores, depending on whether there is much competition from other supermarkets nearby).
We bulk buy special offers in the Dutch supermarkets, go across to Germany several times a year for certain items which are much cheaper than in the NL (€0.49 for 1.5lt bottles of Pepsi/7Up instead of €1.80 here, or at almost half the price, €14 for 6.5kg pack of Persil anyone?) and twice a year travel by car to the UK and buy 6 months supply of everything from soap and toothpaste to shampoo and cosmetics from Superdrug (Uk chemist chain store, sister organization of Kruidvat and Trekpleister), which works out much cheaper than Action's parallel imports. We also buy most of our family's clothes in the UK as well, which is much cheaper than in the NL, with the current exchange rate an added bonus.

A family day out to the zoo or even eating out in a restaurant here is much more expensive than doing the same in say, Germany. You might as well make a day of going to Germany, as many Dutch do - take the kids to the zoo, go shopping (clothes, chemist, supermarket, off licence/liquor store and toys), visit the garden centre, fill your tank with fuel and then sit down to a Chinese buffet for around €13 per person.
Just make sure you have a trailer attached to your car to bring everything back!

If we ever emigrated from the Netherlands, it would be really down to the high costs of everything here, which leaves the average Dutch person with so little to spend
into the economy at the end of each month..


I didn't create the table, it came from a Government website, but I tend to agree on the cost of living; it can be very expensive in Holland and we stopped using the likes of Albert Heijn over 30 years ago; only using them as a shop of last resort.  The likes of Aldi and much later Lidl became the supermarket of choice for things such as drinks, milk, butter etc, plus of course the local street market for all of our fresh foods (meat, cheese flowers and veg).  It helps a lot to know the locals and traders at the market where we would get an extra discount.

As for clothes, we tend to use Zeeman, Terstal or the market where clothing is cheap and living in a NL/D border town (Enschede) we would use Germany for some things (alcohol mainly) and petrol at the Dutch border towns tends to be cheaper than in the west, so we would shop around as and when the rumours started about a certain offer at a Shell station in a German village.

Eating out - Chinese food is reasonable in Holland (we would get 3 days of meals from one take-away), but for everything else, we go to Germany.

My wife (Dutch) won't buy clothes in the UK where they may be cheaper, but she doesn't like the way they are cut (her mother was a seamstress and my wife learned from her), she is hyper-critical and often points out to me why clothes are so cheap in the UK; mainly because half the material is missing, cut from panels that don't match, or they've lopped an inch off the bottom to save money).  We currently live in the UK and tbh, the only thing our daughter asks us to bring back to Holland is English toilet paper, cheese & onion potato crisps and English mustard, not because they are cheaper, but because she can't get what she wants in Holland.  Our old neighbour is a local butcher who trained in Scotland (many Dutch butchers are trained in the UK), so we can get English style cuts of meat and bacon/sausages on request - it's worthwhile asking around, there's an old saying in Holland "You have no, you may get yes".

There has to be some value in buying stuff in Holland because every Saturday, our town is flooded with Germans, but perhaps they're attracted by the coffee-shops. :)

Oh, plus Holland has that extra plus - it's just gezellig. :)

No I don't think it's a money issue to immigrate to another country. Yes Dutch supermarkets are not the cheapest and hell yes we complain about it, but we like to pay more for quality stuff. It must have the best quality and for the cheapest prices, that's something typically Dutch I guess.

Everything must be of greatest quality or we don't buy it.

Coffeeshops are still illegal in the Netherlands  :lol:

Hi All!

This is my first post as it is a question I have posed to myself and one that has been asked of me. Just a quick backstory, my wife accepted a job here in the Netherlands about two years ago and I arrived about a year ago. Since then, I can honestly say it has been both a positive and negative experience. There are many facets about daily life that I enjoy and others that drive me crazy. I enjoy how easy it is to get round vs. my former home (Chicago) but the bureaucracy here is a nightmare. We have neighbors that we absolutely love and love us, but I have also have run into others people who I would love to push in front of a tram. It is nice to know that many of the locals are patient enough to allow me to practice my Dutch (Language) skills with them but hate the fact that employers are not at all interested in me as I am not fluent in both Dutch and English. 

As a whole, I would give my experience so far a grade of C+; I neither completely love it  or completely hate it.

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