Many expats are attracted to the Netherlands, due to the high quality of life, widespread use of English as well as the special tax regimes that have been put in place to make the Netherlands more attractive to expats.
This raises the important question of how much money do you actually need to earn to live “comfortably” in the Netherlands?
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,900 to live comfortably in most Dutch cities while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,800 per month.
*The figures above include rent however, it is worth noting that Amsterdam will typically be a bit more expensive (around 33% more) than some other cities in the Netherlands largely due to higher rent prices. For those who are interested I have included an overview of the cost of living in different cities in the Netherlands at the end of this blog post.
In the sections below I will give you a more detailed breakdown of different living expenses in the Netherlands to give you a better idea of how much you would need to live comfortably in the Netherlands depending on your own unique personal situation.
Salaries in the Netherlands
Average salary in the Netherlands
The average gross salary in the Netherlands in 2020 was €36,500 ($42,300) per year which equals a gross monthly salary of €2,816 ($3,263) or €2,245 ($2,601) per month after taxes.
But what is considered to be a good salary in the Netherlands?
While the answer to this question is quite subjective, a gross salary of €70,000 ($81,000) per year would put you in the top 5% of income earners in the Netherlands. Which equals to a net monthly salary of €3,832 ($4,440) per month.
Similarly a single person earning net salary below €1,039 ($1,203) per month would be considered “poor” as this is where the Dutch poverty line currently sits.
To get a better idea of what is considered a “good” salary in the Netherlands, here is a list of the average net monthly salary in the Netherlands by age bracket.
|Age Bracket||Average Net Monthly Salary|
|16-25 year olds||€1,083
|25-35 year olds||€2,291
|35-45 year olds||€2,550
|45-55 year olds||€2,800
|55-65 year olds||€2,825
|65-75 year olds||€2,425
To better understand how your salary compares to what Dutch workers earn in different industries I have created the table below which shows the average salaries for some of the most common jobs in the country.
|Job Type||Average Monthly Gross Salary||Average Monthly Net Salary|
|Fast Food Employee (minimum wage)||≈ €1,684
|Taxi/Uber Driver||≈ €2,000
|Administrative Assistant||≈ €2,335
|Electrical Engineer||≈ €3,250
|Software Engineer||≈ €3,315
|Doctor GP||≈ €6,500
Some things to note about these salaries are:
- They are average salaries (i.e. 50% earn above this number and 50% earn below).
- Variations at the top and bottom of these numbers can differ quite a lot depending on the profession.
- These are national averages and location will impact these figures slightly.
- Net salaries vary depending on factors including age, part time vs full time, marital status, children etc. These figures listed in the table were calculated based on a full time, single employee over the age of 21.
Salaries were gathered from the Dutch salary website “werkzoeken”
Depending on where you live and the type of housing you choose individuals can expect to spend between 25-40% of their net salary on rent or mortgage payments.
Housing costs will also vary by location. For example, rent in Amsterdam is typically around 30% higher than other large cities like Rotterdam, Utrecht or the Hague. Below is a table of average rental prices in the four biggest cities in the Netherlands.
|1 bedroom apartment||≈ €1,400
|3 bedroom apartment||≈ €2,400
It is worth noting that due to generous mortgage interest based tax deductions as well as the availability of high quality subsidized public housing, expats in the Netherlands will often find themselves paying nearly 50% more for their accommodation than most of the local population as they will generally need to rent more expensive accommodation directly from private landlords.
Everyone’s monthly entertainment budget will vary depending on the types of activities you like doing, how often you do them and how many people you are doing these activities with.
Below I have included an overview of the average prices for popular entertainment/recreational activities in the Netherlands.
|Standard meal at a fast food restaurant||≈ €6.40
|Simple meal at a “cheap” restaurant||≈ €14
|3 course meal at a mid-range restaurant for one person||≈ €35
|1 Beer at a local pub/bar||≈ €2.70
|1 Glass of wine at a local pub/bar||≈ €3.70
|1 Cocktail at a local par/pub||≈ €11.00
|Cup of coffee at a local cafe||≈ €2.40
|Cinema ticket||≈ €12.50
|Concert ticket of internationally renowned musician||≈ €70
|Monthly gym membership||≈ €38
Groceries often make up a significant percentage of your monthly outgoing expenses. However, the Dutch are known for preferring to spend as little as possible on groceries especially when compared to other countries around the world like France or Italy who often seek out higher quality produce and goods which are more artisanal in nature.
According to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) the average Dutch family spends €492 per month on groceries while the average single person spends €207 per month on their grocery bill.
In the Netherlands you are spoiled for choice when it comes to supermarkets with most supermarkets being located within a short walk or bicycle ride of your home. In general Lidl is the cheapest supermarket in the Netherlands, followed closely by Aldi and Hoogvliet. More premium supermarkets in the Netherlands are Jumbo and Albert Heijn with Albert Heijn being slightly more expensive than Jumbo.
Below is an overview of what you can expect to pay for commonly bought grocery items.
|Tomatoes (1kg)||≈ €2.65
|Apples (1kg)||≈ €2.99
|Bananas 1(kg)||≈ €1.99
|Oranges (1kg)||≈ €1.50
|Fresh Milk (1L)||≈ €1.55
|Rice (1kg)||≈ €0.89
|Onions (1kg)||≈ €0.79
|Domestic Beer (1L)||≈ €2.40
|Ground Beef (500g)||≈ €3.69
|Chicken Filets (500g)||≈ €3.97
|Eggs (12)||≈ €1.63
Utility Costs in the Netherlands
While your utility bills will vary depending upon your own usage rates as well as the energy efficiency of your accommodation, according to the Dutch National Institute for Family Finance Information (NIBUD) the average Dutch household will spend the following amounts for their monthly water, electricity and heating bills.
|Number of People in Household||Monthly Electricity Bill||Monthly Water Bill||Monthly Gas Bill|
TV and Internet Costs in the Netherlands
Most people in the Netherlands will get a packaged deal which combines both internet and tv which will cost anywhere between €40 to €100 per month. This will normally get you internet speeds of between 30-40 Mbps and between 50-70 tv channels. Fortunately, the Dutch do not dub their English language tv shows and movies making local tv suitable for expats.
Mobile Phone Costs in the Netherlands
It is quite common to be provided with a mobile phone through your work although if you choose to get your own plan you will normally pay between €8 to €12 per month for 2-3GB per month for a 4G connection. A faster 5G connection will cost about €15 for 2GB per month. For plans which provide you with a new high end smartphone like an iPhone you should expect to add an additional €30 to €40 per month to a two year contract.
Healthcare Costs in the Netherlands
Healthcare in the Netherlands is very good and as a result, the Dutch healthcare system is ranked near the top in the world amongst wealthy developed nations. During the six years I spent living in the Netherlands I have always had a good experience using the Dutch healthcare system.
The Dutch government has put in place a mandatory “base insurance” which covers the majority of medical expenses and is the same for all residents/citizens.
If you are wondering what you can expect to pay for your health insurance in the Netherlands you will be pleased to know that:
On average Dutch residents will pay €125 per month for their “base insurance” which includes an annual deductible of €385. However if you increase your annual deductible to €885 your monthly health insurance costs will typically cost between €85 to €91 per month.
In addition, the Dutch healthcare system also provides residents with the option to purchase supplemental insurance which covers things that are not covered as part of the base insurance package like dental care, glasses/lenses and alternative forms medicine.
What about the cost of medicines in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands you will need to pay the first €250 of your annual prescription costs before your insurance provider will begin reimbursing the cost of your medicines. This annual €250 prescription deductible is separate from your “regular” health insurance deductible listed above. Like most countries around the world anything which is available over the counter will not be counted towards this deductible.
Below is an overview of what you can expect to pay for common medical treatments/medications in the Netherlands.
|Treatment||Cost||Out of Pocket Cost|
|Visit to the GP||≈ €9.50 – €22
≈ $11 – $25.50
|≈ €9.50 – €22
≈ $11 – $25.50
|Simple onsite treatment (bandaging, vaccination, blood test etc.)||≈ €40 – €80
≈ $46 – $93
|Health Screening||≈ €1,000 – €1,600
≈ $1,160 – $1,855
|Average inpatient treatment||≈ €500 – €1,200
≈ $580 – $1,392
|1 week dose of over the counter cold medicine||≈ €5.90
*The out of pocket costs listed in the table above are only €0 if your deductible has been reached and your doctor has given you a prescription.
Every parent knows that the children can add a significant amount of cost to a family’s living expenses.
As an expat you may wish to send your children to one of the many international schools in the Netherlands in order to make their transition to the Netherlands go as smoothly as possible. International schools in the Netherlands are actually quite affordable when compared to ones located in neighboring countries like Belgium or Germany.
This is because the Dutch government has put in place subsidies and special tax regimes which make running an international school cheaper than in many other countries around the world; in hopes of making the country more attractive to expats with families.
So how much do international schools cost in the Netherlands?
Most international schools in cities like Amsterdam or the Hague will cost between €8,000 to €23,000 per year per child.
Daycare Costs in the Netherlands
The price of daycare in the Netherlands can be difficult to estimate as it depends on a variety of factors including the amount of hours your child spends in daycare each week, how many children you have in daycare as well as your household income.
Fortunately, daycare costs can be reduced by between 33% to 96% depending on your household income after you include the generous subsidies provided by the Dutch government. Below is an example of what you would expect to pay based on the average income of around €37,000 as well as a higher salary of €55,000 per year.
|Yearly Gross Income||€37,000||€55,000|
|Hours Per Month||89||89|
|Hourly Daycare Cost||€8.46||€8.46|
|Monthly Daycare Cost||€752||€752|
|Government Daycare Subsidy||€675 (96%)||€609 (80.9%)|
|Net Daycare Cost Per Month||€53||€144|
However, some expats who aren’t subject to income tax like diplomats or international organization staff won’t be able to qualify for these subsidies and will pay between €5 to €10 per hour for their child’s daycare. Which means that they can pay anywhere between €700 to €1,800 per month for their children’s daycare fees.
The final major monthly expense category covered in this post is transportation costs.
If you live in the city center of cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam or the Hague you can generally get around using the well established public transportation systems.
A 60 minute public transportation ticket in Amsterdam would set you back €3.80. Similarly a monthly transportation pass in the main urban areas of Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam would cost €50 per month when taken as part of a yearly subscription. For €306 per month you can get a monthly pass which covers all of the Netherlands and includes the Bus, Tram and Metro.
Biking in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is arguably the best country in the world when it comes to traveling by bike. The flat topography of the country, compact size of cities and excellent bike infrastructure means that most of your daily trips can easily be handled using a bike. Most Dutch people will choose to buy a cheap second hand bike on platforms like Markt Plaats (Dutch version of craigslist/gumtree) or buy a new bike at one of the many bike stores in the country.
The prices of taxis in the Netherlands are heavily regulated with the government putting in place caps for how much a taxi can charge to initiate a ride as well as how much can be charged per minute of travel as well as per kilometer travelled.
|Type of Car||Max Ride Fee||Max Fee (per KM)||Max Time Fee (per minute)|
|Passenger Car(max 4 passengers)||€3.29||€2.42||€0.40|
|Minivan (max 5 to 8 people)||€6,69||€3.05||€0.46|
This means that a 20 minute 10km ride would cost you around €35.50 while an Uber for the same route would normally cost around €29 which is equal to a savings of around 20%.
Car ownership can be quite expensive in any country. However, in the Netherlands the price of a car can vary quite a bit depending on the size (weight of the vehicle) as well as how eco-friendly the vehicle is.
As a result, you will see that the diesel and performance versions of car models can be quite a bit more expensive than if you buy the electric/plugin hybrid version of the same car. Similarly the amount of road tax you need to pay each quarter can increase the overall ownership costs of the vehicle you own with bigger/higher emitting vehicles having significantly higher road tax fees than smaller or electric vehicles.
Petrol costs are also quite expensive in the Netherlands particularly when compared to the United States with Dutch fuel prices being a whopping 88% more expensive than fuel bought in the United States. The table below shows the price of petrol and diesel in the Netherlands as of October 2021.
|Type Of Gas||Price Per Liter||Price Per Gallon|
Below is an overview of the average price of five of the most popular car models sold in the Netherlands.
|Car Model||Price New||Price Used (3 years old)||Monthly Road Tax|
|Skoda Octavia||≈ €30,700 – €34,800
≈ $35,600 – $40,400
|≈ €14,000 – €21,000
≈ $16,200 – $24,300
|€59 per month|
|Volkswagen Golf||≈ €27,000 – €34,000
≈ $31,300 – $39,400
|≈ €14,800 – €19,000
≈ $17,200 – $22,000
|€55 per month|
|Volvo XC40||≈ €38,000 – €48,000
≈ $44,100 – $55,600
|≈ €29,000 – €37,000
≈ $33,600 – $42,900
|€73 per month|
|BMW 3 Series||≈ €43,800 – €47,500
≈ $50,800 – $55,100
|≈ €21,000 – €32,000
≈ $24,400 – $37,100
|€67 per month|
|Toyota Aygo||≈ €14,800 – €15,600
≈ $17,150 – $18,100
|≈ €7,800 – €10,900
≈ $9,100 – $12,600
|€18 per month|
In conclusion, while living expenses in the Netherlands have gone up in recent years, the overall high quality of life you will experience living in the Netherlands as well as the relatively high salaries for expats means that most expats should be able to live comfortably in the Netherlands.
It is really important to try and calculate what you would expect to spend to live the type of lifestyle you want before accepting a job in the Netherlands. You should also make sure to ask your employer if you will be eligible for the Netherlands 30% tax ruling for expats which allows you to receive 30% of your salary tax free.
To put my estimations of €1,900 per month for single individuals and €4,800 per month for families of four (rent included) in perspective these salaries should give you a comparable lifestyle to the salaries listed in the cities below.
|City||Single monthly net||Family of Four monthly net|
Other frequently asked questions
Is 100k euro a good salary in the Netherlands?
Yes a salary of €100,000 per year is considered to be an excellent salary in the Netherlands. A salary of this amount would easily put you in the top 1% of all income earners in the Netherlands and equate to a net monthly salary of €4,945.
Is €3,000 a good salary in the Netherlands?
A gross salary of €3,000 is considered to be a pretty good salary in the Netherlands as it puts you in the top 30% of all income earners in the Netherlands and equates to a net monthly salary of €2,398. However a €3,000 per month net salary would be much better and mean you earn around €50,000 per year which would put you in the top 15% of all income earners in the Netherlands.
Why are Dutch salaries so low?
Some people might consider Dutch salaries to be quite low, especially after you have deducted the relatively high income taxes. However, salaries in the Netherlands are in line with most other countries in Western Europe and include generous social benefits like childcare subsidies, mortgage rebates, 13th month salary, paid leave, maternity leave, pension and sick leave.
What is considered rich in the Netherlands?
While what is considered “rich” is subjective, according to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) there are currently over 200,000 households in the Netherlands which have a net worth over 1 million euros which represents about 2.8% of all Dutch households. Similarly if you earn over €80,000 per year you would earn more than 97.5% of the Dutch population.
Are salaries in the Netherlands high?
Yes, salaries in the Netherlands are very high compared to most other countries around the world, in fact, the Netherlands has the sixth highest average income in the entire world with the average salary currently sitting at €36,500 per year which equates to a net monthly salary of €2,245 per month.
Is living in the Netherlands expensive?
Broadly speaking the total cost of living in the Netherlands is only 2% higher than the overall cost of living in the United States. However, the Netherlands is less expensive than Denmark (by 6%), Norway (by 27%) and Sweden (by 8%) while being more expensive than France (by 10%), Belgium (by 12%) and Germany (by 19%).
In general, the cost of living in the Netherlands is comparable to its European neighbors however, when you factor in the price of rent the cost of living in the Netherlands generally works out to be a bit higher than its neighbors.
What is a good salary in the Netherlands in 2021?
If you want to be in the top 15% of income earners in the Country you would need to earn a pre-tax salary of over €50,000 per year which equals a net monthly salary of €2,992 per month.
To get a better idea of what the top earners, earn in the Netherlands checkout the table below:
|Income Bracket||Gross Yearly Salary||Net Monthly Salary|
|Top 41.1% of earners||€30,000+||€2,102+|
|Top 26.2% of earners||€40,000+||€2,567+|
|Top 15.4% of earners||€50,000+||€2,992+|
|Top 9% of earners||€60,000+||€3,416+|
|Top 5% of earners||€70,000+||€3,832+|
|Top 2.6% of earners||€80,000+||€4,203+|
|Top 1.1% of earners||€90,000+||€4,574+|
What is the Cost of Living in Amsterdam
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €2,100 ($2,433) to live comfortably in Amsterdam while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €5,200 ($6,025) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in Rotterdam
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,700 ($1,968) to live comfortably in Rotterdam while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,500 ($5,214) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in the Hague
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,700 ($1,968) to live comfortably in the Hague while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,450 ($5,156) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in Utrecht
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,800 ($2,085) to live comfortably in Utrecht while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,700 ($5,446) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in Breda
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,600 ($1,854) to live comfortably in Breda while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,400 ($5,098) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in Nijmegen
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,550 ($1,796) to live comfortably in Nijmegen while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,300 ($4,982) per month.
What is the Cost of Living in Eindhoven
Although cost of living varies considerably due to each individual’s personal preferences and situation, according to our estimations a single person would need a net salary of €1,750 ($2,027) to live comfortably in Eindhoven while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least €4,350 ($5,040) per month.