The Best Places to Live in the Netherlands & the Cheapest Cities


One of Europe’s wealthiest and most densely populated countries, the Netherlands has plenty to offer the digital nomad and is a popular choice with many international visitors. While most visitors to the country head to Amsterdam and often don’t leave, there are plenty of other cities that offer good Dutch options for anyone looking for a base there whilst working remotely. In this post, we’re going to look at some of the best cities and cheapest places to live in the Netherlands.

5 of the Best Cities to Live in the Netherlands & Work Remotely

1. Rotterdam

Rotterdam via Jurriaan-Snikkers on Wunderstock

The second largest city in Holland, Rotterdam is massively overshadowed by Amsterdam in terms of international tourism, but this large port city is busy reinventing itself and it’s fast becoming the Netherlands’ best digital nomad option.

With the largest seaport in Europe, Rotterdam has always drawn in people from far and wide and with an estimated 180 nationalities living in the city, it really is something of a cultural melting pot. That’s good news for anyone looking for an international city as a base and Rotterdam does to a large extent live up to its reputation as the “Gateway to Europe” even if it has at times struggled to adapt to the post-industrial age.

Those looking for a quaint, quiet town may want to look elsewhere but if you’re hoping for big city living and relatively low living costs compared to some of the other best places to live in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is a good bet. It has good nightlife with its centre more affordable than Amsterdam, and is also home to plenty of coworking spaces.

Estimated Living Costs in Rotterdam (explanation below) – 1200-1850 Euros/month

2. Den Haag

The Netherlands is only a small country and wherever you choose to base yourself, you’ll be able to get anywhere and back in a day. Den Haag is only located 25 km northwest of Rotterdam and is another of the most important Dutch cities.

It serves as the seat of the Dutch government and is a major global legal centre as home to the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court. It’s also a popular option for anyone moving to the Netherlands from abroad and is generally viewed as one of the friendliest Dutch cities to live in.

Although it’s the third largest city in the country and part of a large metropolitan area, Den Haag (AKA The Hague) manages to retain a small town feel. Generally speaking it’s a safe, welcoming place that is spared some of the uglier elements of life in the country’s two biggest cities, and you can easily get into Rotterdam if you feel its entertainment options are not sufficient.

Estimated Living Costs in Den Haag – 1100-1750 Euros/month

3. Groningen

best cities in the netherlands
Groningen via Rutger van der Maar, CC BY 2.0

Like Den Haag, Groningen also ranks as one of the cheapest cities to live in the Netherlands and it’s a great remote working option if you’re more of a small town kind of person.

This easy going, cycling-mad city is located in the north of the Netherlands and is the capital of a province of the same name. Groningen is a university town with almost 1000 years of history which makes it one of the most interesting places to visit in the country. Students make up around 25% of its population and that in turn ensures there are lots of eating, drinking and living options for anyone trying to live on a tight budget.

If you’re just starting out on your digital nomad journey and are worried about not making enough to cover your costs, the Netherlands perhaps isn’t the best place to head, but if you do, then Groningen is a city where you can certainly find affordable flatshares and keep your expenses down. It’s one of the best options for finding a happy medium between finding a lower cost of living in the Netherlands, as well as a city that still has plenty going on.

Estimated Living Costs in Groningen – 1100-1750 Euros/month

4. Amsterdam

For many people looking to move to Holland, Amsterdam is still the first port of call and to an extent that’s understandable. It’s one of Europe’s most famous cities and while many people are put off by its seedier side, there is something special about Amsterdam life and experiencing its famous nightlife and coffee shops like a local rather than a tourist.

Tourists are everywhere though in the centre of the city – a maze of canals and old streets. That contributes to the high cost of living and difficulties in finding good quality accommodation. You can expect to spend around 20% more by basing yourself in Amsterdam compared to an average Dutch city, which is a significant hike if you’re somebody working remotely and making the same amount of money regardless of your base.

It’s those costs which make you question whether it is really one of the best places to live in the Netherlands for foreigners. The best advice is perhaps to visit the city first for a few days and form your opinions as it’s the kind of love/hate place which really does divide opinions.

Estimated Living Costs in Amsterdam – 1400-2300 Euros/month

5. Utrecht

Utrecht via Olivia Mobbs, CC BY 2.0

Finally we head to Utrecht, an old city with a medieval centre and tree-lined canals in the heart of the country. It’s not one of the cheapest places to live in the Netherlands, with costs not far off those in Amsterdam, but it’s one of the nicest cities to base yourself in.

One of the best things about it is the number of friendly coffee shops where you can happily work away. For a small city, there are also some really good coworking options such as Mindspace – a hub for startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and creative workers. 

A bit like Groningen, it’s also a university town which brings its benefits although it’s certainly true that you will pay a bit more to live in Utrecht. Another significant advantage is its central location. Within a 60 km radius of the centre of Utrecht, you will find Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag with good train connections ensuring you can quickly get to and from any of the major Dutch cities.

Estimated Living Costs in Utrecht – 1300-2000 Euros/month

Estimated Living Costs Calculation:

To help calculate the cost of living in the Netherlands in the table below and the cities featured in this post above, we used Numbeo’s data to help.

The estimated living costs in this post are only designed to be a guide but should offer a useful means of comparison and highlight which are the cheapest and most expensive cities in the Netherlands to live. The lower figure might be a realistic budget for students or young people living in a flatshare and looking to watch what they spend.

The upper figure would offer a lot more freedom in terms of finding a flat of your own and enjoying more days and evenings out. In both cases it is designed to cover the cost of rented accommodation and all living costs, although clearly it will vary a lot depending on the person.

What are the Cheapest Cities to Live in the Netherlands?

The following table shows the estimated cost of living (rent +general living expenses) in 15 cities across the Netherlands:

CityEstimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)
Den Haag1100-1750

It’s worth noting that none of these budgets for living in the Netherlands factor in the cost of any travel or health insurance packages. These will vary depending on your personal circumstances, nationality and ability to access free healthcare in Europe.

As you can see from the table above, you can find even cheaper cities in the Netherlands than Groningen and Den Haag, but none that are significantly better value. It’s after all a very small country and there’s not a great deal of variation away from the expensive Amsterdam area. Haarlem, which forms part of the Amsterdam metropolitan area, is also expensive but overall something in the region of 1200-1700 Euros per month is a realistic base figure for living and renting in the Netherlands. 

Digital nomads looking for shorter term stays of a month or less can expect to spend a bit more. It may be worth looking for a cheaper airbnb in a well located, affordable city and then travelling into Amsterdam and around the country in your free time.

Read More – Cheapest places to live in Poland

The Best Places to Live in the Netherlands & the Cheapest Cities

14 thoughts on “The Best Places to Live in the Netherlands & the Cheapest Cities

  1. Looking to relocte to Netherlands eoth my family of 6 . My self Nd my husband with four kids of school going ages. Which city will be best ?

  2. What is the minimum wage pay for people aged 25 ? For say painter and decorator ? And what is the most common occupation that would give a decent level of affordable living ?

    1. Hi Fabian, the article is primarily aimed at people working remotely and I can’t really help answer your questions as they are quite specific and I have no real knowledge of fishing/warehouse industry, painting/decorating or other occupations in the Netherlands. Maybe you can look for other forums such as reddit or other social media sites to try and connect with people working in the country?

  3. Hi there, I am wanting to travel to the netherlands to find work and cheap accomodation for young people. I am 21 and am looking for easy accomodation close to areas where people would work starter jobs. Any reccommendations?

    1. Hi Luca, I think maybe one of the university cities would be your best bet as they would have a wider range of cheap accommodation and shared housing options for students and young people. Maybe somewhere like Nijmegen or Den Haag which has a large population of international students. In terms of starter jobs, I guess it depends what kind of work you’re looking for and you’d probably need to find a forum more specifically geared to the Netherlands and working there for that. Good luck!

  4. I am looking to move to Netherlands (Den Haag) and would like to know if I can expect to find a 2 bedroom house (flat) within a budget of €400000. This should be a new construction or under construction property.

    1. Hi Deepa, the article is about renting flats or rooms. I’m not sure about prices for buying a property in Den Haag but I imagine you could contact an estate agent there who would be much more informed!

  5. I am a 54 year old pharmacist from Iran and I would like to come to Netherlands to find a job and live. Would you please tell me where to start and which city you recommend me to start. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Ali, It’s hard to give advice for a specific profession as I’m not a pharmacist and have no idea what the process of finding a pharmacy job would be like in the Netherlands or where the best cities would be to go. Perhaps try reaching out to people in that line of work in the Netherlands on social media or via other online forums. Good luck!

  6. Hello…
    We are family of four. Me wife and two kids 9 and 6 years.. we would like to come to neatherland and work and live there. Which is the best city to go and kids are going to school in english. Is there any english school? And are schools free? We are from india. Will wait for your reply thank you…

    1. Hi Sadik,

      There are some international schools where children study in English but they are private and will cost many thousand Euros per year. I believe there are a few bilingual public (free) schools where up to 50% of classes are taught in English but I don’t think you will have any options to study for free totally in English, unless somebody knows differently?

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