Where to live
Amsterdam Neighbourhood: the peaceful Plantage
The Plantage, the ‘cultural garden of Amsterdam’, is an easy-to-access, quiet residential area located in the heart of the city; however, it also offers a peaceful and relaxing place surrounded by nature and greenery.
It’s just a 15 minute walk from Central Station but a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city centre. No wonder the Plantage (or East Canal) district is considered by locals and visitors alike to be one of the best neighbourhoods in Amsterdam right now. Hop on a bike or head out for a casual stroll and you’ll find museums, parks, bars and restaurants along the many canals that crisscross the area.
Things to see and do
For the perfect place to chill-out, hop over the canal to Hortus Bontanicus – one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Wander through the desert and jungle environments that stretch throughout the magnificent glasshouses. Flutter with butterflies or stroll around superb gardens – which once provided the locals with medicinal herbs – before finishing off with your own choice of pick-me-up at the café’s sunny terrace. If fauna is more your thing (although there’s no reason you can’t do both) then head over to the Artis Royal Zoo. This impressive zoological garden dates back to 1838 and gives you the opportunity to say “hallo” to a wide variety of animals from all around the world. Attached to the zoo you’ll find Micropia, which offers a totally fascinating insight into microbes and their impact on our daily lives. Sure, a museum about microbes is a hard thing to sell – but take our word for it, it really is worth a visit! To enjoy an afternoon of iconic culture, walk (or cycle, or take a boat) down the Nieuwe Keiszersgracht canal to the world famous Hermitage Gallery’s Dutch outpost. With a combination of permanent and temporary exhibitions from the main St Petersburg collection, its a varied and interesting museum that is completely manageable in size – not too big or daunting but still with a large enough treasure trove of art pieces to inspire you.
Meanwhile, the Tropenmuseum is an entirely different experience – a mixture of anthropological exhibits from every corner of the world, with something of interest for everyone. The
Tropenmuseum is located next to the beautiful Oosterpark, Amsterdam’s first large scale public park dating back to the 1890s, which was recently renovated. Check out the sculpture park, which holds many world-renowned pieces – or just hang out in this peaceful green space among the enchanting wildlife. More traditional culture is on your doorstep at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet. Home to the Dutch National Opera and Dutch National Ballet, this Cees Dam and Wilhelm Holzbauer-designed building also houses Amsterdam’s city hall. Behind it you’ll find the world famous Waterlooplein Flea Market, a colourful collection of stalls selling everything under the sun, the perfect place to go if you want to find classic Dutch souvenirs.
Places to eat and drink
Feeling hungry or thirsty? You won’t be disappointed. Ten minutes away you’ll find De Groene Olifant which is a tiny bar with bags of character. Cosy and old fashioned on the inside, it also has a great terrace for relaxing on a summer’s day. If you’re feeling adventurous you can always jump on a number 10 tram and head up to Brouwerij ’t IJ for a real Dutch treat: a local brewery with its very own windmill. Or head west over the famous Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) to Onder de Ooievaar, a traditional Dutch bar right on the Prinsengracht canal.
Food-wise, try the intimate atmosphere and amazing tastes at Elkaar near the Tropenmuseum, or wander over to Noara’s for an Arabic food journey with hints of French cuisine thrown in. Other great dining options are right by the zoo: De Plantage is an elegant affair in spectacular surroundings while Tempura is a great Japanese restaurant with similarly affordable prices. Burgermeester is also in the district if you fancy a juicy organic burger, and Pizzabakkers has the best pizzas this side of Italy.
You can easily walk to and from Amsterdam Central Station, but there are many other transportation options if you prefer.
Cycling is probably the best way to get around and fit in with the locals – although not for the faint-hearted – and it’s very easy to rent bikes in Amsterdam (one of the cheapest options is to get an OV bike).
The closest tram stops are at Artis, Plantage Lepellaan and Weesperplein, for tram lines numbers 9, 10 and 14.
The nearest metro stations are Waterlooplein and Weesperplein, where you can catch metro lines 51, 53 or 54.
Three great reasons to move to Eindhoven
Many expats pick Amsterdam when they have a choice of where to move in the Netherlands, but there are other great cities to explore, and Eindhoven is one of them, with such great advantages as a thriving tech scene, a relaxed atmosphere, and a lower cost of living.
Eindhoven, affectionately known as Lichtstad (‘City of Light’), is the home of globally famous electronics giant Philips. It is a city steeped in industrial heritage yet successfully re-invented as a technology, R&D and design hub: an entrepreneur’s paradise. And now, for an increasing number of expatriates, a place to call home.
Expat Mortgages, which specialises in securing home financing for expats in the Netherlands and beyond, explains why this innovative south-eastern city is a smart alternative to Amsterdam.
The Netherlands’ fifth largest city — with a population of roughly 220,000 — may be synonymous with Philips, but today it is a shining example of innovation and design, attracting skilled people from around the world into a knowledge ecosystem which the city itself calls Brainport. Forbes magazine has described Eindhoven as “hands down the most inventive city in the world”, while Fortune has boldly suggested that “the next Silicon Valley could well be in Eindhoven”.
It’s clearly an exciting time to be in the capital of North Brabant province. For one, the economy is in good shape: according to Statistics Netherlands, the 3.6% growth it experienced in 2016 was above the national average, with strong performance in hi-tech industries, manufacturing and commercial services creating high-quality jobs. No place in the country matched Eindhoven’s 1.3% fall in unemployment in 2016, leading North Brabant province’s Social Economic Council to warn of potential skills shortages.
Life and liveability in Eindhoven
“Eindhoven has a relaxed vibe and the people are really friendly”, says Roy Schreurs from Expat Mortgages, which just opened an office in Eindhoven. “The city offers an enviable quality of life, just minutes away from Belgium and Germany ” While Amsterdam’s infrastructure groans under the weight of soaring demand and its public areas teem with crowds, Eindhoven’s residents enjoy more green space than any other Dutch city. And what the compact Eindhoven city centre lacks in historic architectural grandeur, it more than makes up for in edgy modern aesthetics, and an easily accessible (and affordable) arts, culture, entertainment and leisure scene. “It’s a very welcoming and familiar city for expats”, adds Roy, who says that with about one-third of the city’s population being foreign, you’re as likely to hear English spoken on the streets of cosmopolitan Eindhoven as you are the rich Brabantian dialect. Multinational corporations, sought-after schools for third-culture kids, a world-class technical university and globally-renowned design academy create a true melting pot.
An affordable alternative to Amsterdam
The Eindhoven cost of living is also easier on the pocket than Amsterdam. Numbeo’s recent Cost of Living Plus Rent Index states that “you would need around €3,519.67 in Eindhoven to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €4,500 in Amsterdam.” Notably, it points out that local purchasing power in Eindhoven is 22.28% higher than in Amsterdam.
The housing market in the Netherlands reflects this. Many expats are now being priced out of the “overheated” capital, with housing shortages that mainly affect Amsterdam and Utrecht. The Dutch government has encouraged locals and expats in Amsterdam to consider surrounding cities rather than stay in an already-crowded market; living in Eindhoven is an enticing solution. For Eindhoven, the upside potential of this shift for those prepared to buy property is already happening. In a 2017 market review, De Nederlandsche Bank stated that, like their larger cousins, medium-sized cities are “witnessing stronger house price rises than the rest of the Netherlands.”
Compelling case for buying a house in Eindhoven
For many expats the dilemma remains: to buy or not to buy? There appears to be a consensus in the current market.
“Of course it is a personal decision. But the mortgage interest deductions and the current low interest rates convince more and more expats to buy a property instead of renting”, says Roy of Expat Mortgages. Indeed, the numbers from Centraal Planbureau show that the average housing expenses of mid-income homeowners are about a fifth of their disposable income, while tenants spend a third of that income on rent. Roy adds that investing money in property is a much smarter financial bet than… just throwing it out the window on rent.
For expats who choose to take the plunge, Eindhoven’s diverse housing stock reflects its status as a regional urban centre.
Single people or couples without children often prefer city centre apartments close to all the amenities, but these inevitably attract a price premium. Families may opt for larger houses in the suburbs and villages skirting the city, which are seamlessly connected to the city for work and schools and within easy reach of the central train station, road networks and airport.
The decision often revolves around your budget, and the best way to determine your price range and navigate the practicalities of a mortgage application is to hire a dedicated mortgage adviser.
Amsterdam it is not, but an increasing number of expats are being drawn to Eindhoven’s bright lights, much as Philips’ founders might have envisaged more than 125 years ago.
Why move to the north of the Netherlands
The northern Netherlands provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe offer a Dutch experience with a unique flavour and at a gentler pace. The region is growing thanks to recent investment, and there are many opportunities for expats interested in relocating to the Netherlands.
The International Welcome Center North (IWCN), a one-stop shop offering services, advice and events for expats in the northern Netherlands, explains why there has never been a better time to move to one of the top Dutch regions.
Job opportunities in a growing region
The Dutch provinces in the north have seen immense growth and development over the last decade, and the region is one of the fastest growing parts of the country. Investment in the area has increased largely due to the Northern Netherlands Provinces alliance (Samenswerkingsverband Nord Nederland – SNN) which has attracted nearly EUR 1.5 billion of EU development funding since 2000. This in on top of more than EUR 1.2 billion of foreign investment (NOM Foreign Direct Investment) in new projects which has created thousands of new jobs.
These more rural provinces of the Netherlands have traditionally had a strong agricultural sector, but there are a number of other key growing industries including healthcare, energy, technology and life sciences. There are approximately 600 international companies operating in the northern Netherlands, including many Dutch and German multinationals as well as US giants such as IBM and Google.
Expats looking for skilled work will find many opportunities, particularly in metropolitan areas. The city of Groningen – the capital of Groningen province – is the largest city in northern Netherlands with a research university and vast student population. Leeuwarden, with its ancient architectural delights, is the economic hub of Friesland. Assen, the capital of Drenthe, is the fastest-growing city in the region, with strong healthcare and service sectors.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, there is a subsidy scheme in the region for people looking to start up small or medium-sized businesses. Citizens from EU/EFTA nations can move freely to the northern Netherlands to look for work. Those from outside the EU/EFTA will need to apply for the relevant work permit, like they would anywhere else in the country.
Study at one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands
If you’re looking to study in the Netherlands, the northern Dutch provinces boast one of the most reputable universities in the country. Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen is the second oldest university in the Netherlands and is currently the 80th ranked university in the world according to Times Higher Education. The university hosts over 30,000 students from 120 nationalities and is a distinguished research institution specialising in energy, healthy ageing and sustainable society.
There are also a number of universities of applied sciences that offer English-speaking higher education to expats, including the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen and the Stenden University of Applied Sciences with locations in Leeuwarden and Drenthe. If you’re after something part-time or less formal, all three Dutch provinces in the north offer distance learning through Open University and a wide range of courses through the Volksuniversiteit (folk university). A basic level of Dutch is usually needed for these, which can be learned at one of the many language schools in the area. Expats who want to enrol their children in English-speaking international schools have options at both primary and secondary school level, including the International School Eerde and the International School Groningen.
A more relaxed lifestyle
The northern provinces of the Netherlands are known for being quieter, more sparsely populated and generally having a gentler pace of life than larger cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, while still maintaining a high quality of life. This makes them ideal for expats wanting to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of the city while remaining within easy reach of it.
But that’s not to say there is not plenty to do in the north. Each province offers its own distinct Dutch experience. Friesland has the historic, culturally rich city of Leeuwarden, as well as five West Frisian Islands which can be reached by ferry or – during low tide of the Wadden Sea – by mudflat hiking. In exceptionally cold winter, the lakes of the province host the popular ‘Eleven Cities’ speed skating competition – though the last time this was able to be held was in 1997.
The city of Groningen, with its large student population, is known as the ‘metropolis of the north’, with a young, vibrant cultural and party scene. It was even found to have the most contented citizens in a EU study of 75 cities in 2007. Assen is home to the world-famous TT Circuit racing track, known as the ‘Cathedral of Motorcycling’ to sports fans. The northern Netherlands provinces offer high living standards, including low crime and pollution levels, at a lower price than other Dutch regions. The cost of living in Groningen is around 25 percent cheaper than in Amsterdam.
Sample the distinct culture of the top Dutch region of the north
The three northern Dutch provinces all pride themselves on having a distinct regional identity, different from what might be deemed typical of the country as a whole. It’s an area where old meets new, where many traditions are maintained but newcomers are welcomed, and where your word is sacred – one of the region’s most popular sayings is “een man een man, een woord een woord,” meaning that promises, once made, are kept. Nowhere is this more evident than in Friesland, with its own distinct language and sense of pride in its idiosyncratic outlook. In 2018, its capital Leeuwarden will attract more visitors than ever before as one of the year’s European Capitals of Culture.
Expats new to the area will have no shortage of opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture and environment, from the numerous local festivals and celebrations in each town, to sampling local delights such as poffert or beerenburg, to soaking up the village-like atmosphere of northern Netherlands city life.
Living in Laren: Netherlands’ historic gem
Just outside Amsterdam are towns and villages that offer access to the big city without the noise and crowding, and with plenty of space for the kids – and one of the most beautiful is Laren.
Laren, North Holland, may be small, but it has a big reputation – its tree-lined streets and historic charm are attractive to those who want to be close to Amsterdam but with a little more room to live with the children. Expatica explains why this little village has become one of the most coveted places to live outside Amsterdam for families.
Laren: Netherlands’ close-knit community
Nestled in Het Gooi, a region in the Netherlands known for its gently rolling hills, greenery and majestic villas, Laren is a gem: its history as a farming village-turned-art colony has made it one of the coveted places to live outside Amsterdam. The village developed largely into a farming community, but the introduction of a tram line in the 19th century changed everything, as those who worked in Amsterdam could now travel.
But commuters weren’t the only ones coming to Laren in that time period. As the major cities of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam industrialised, the artists saw their once pristine landscapes become brick and iron. Dutch painter Jozef Israëls, a member of the Hague School, discovered the area as a new place to paint – and soon, the area captivated even more artists. The Laren School gained such esteem that painters from across the world took notice. American painter William Henry Singer moved to Laren in the early 20th century and build a villa, then called De Wilde Zwanen (The Wild Swans); the villa was turned into the Singer Laren museum and concert hall, dedicated to preserving the Laren School and Singer’s art collection.
Living in Laren, NH for families
Since then, Laren has become an affluent village known for its charming homes, spacious streets and friendly neighbours. Its location just outside Hilversum, Amsterdam and Utrecht make it ideal for those who work in one of the cities but don’t wish to downsize to cramped apartments, live on noisy streets and have little to no outside green space in which the kids can play. Though the three surrounding cities offer their own art, culture, education and nature, Laren may have them all beat – and all within a half-hour drive.
Art and culture in Laren
Laren has still held onto its roots as an art colony – as exemplified by the busy Singer Laren museum and numerous art organisations such as Kunst in Laren (Art in Laren), which present numerous art exhibitions each year. Besides the Singer Laren, the town also boasts the Geological Museum Hofland, which explores the earth’s history in an interactive way — perfect for children.
Many events in Laren take place at the Singer Laren museum, but because the village atmosphere is close-knit and friendly, plenty of local annual events take place each year, such as the arrival of Sinterklaas. In the larger cities, these types of events are generally very crowded; in Laren, it’s like your own private event.
Education in Laren
Education is important in Laren. For such a small town, Laren boasts five primary schools, some of which focus on international mindedness; there are also two secondary schools, and one international secondary school. The Geological Museum Hofland often works with the schools in Laren to provide hands-on, entertaining educational outings and activities that allow the children to truly enjoy learning. With such commitment to education, the area becomes even more attractive for expat parents looking to raise their children in a small town but still maintain global perspectives.
Nature in Laren
Being in the centre of Het Gooi, there is no shortage of nature in Laren. The town is surrounded by nature reserves and forests, the closest by being the so-called Blukbos. Golf parks and country clubs also dot the area, providing a little bit more entertainment when admiring the nature — but a walk through the untouched woods can be a much-needed family adventure.
For such a small town, Laren has a lot going on in terms of art, culture, nature and beyond. A close-knit but private community, Laren offers expats the best of both: a small town with an international atmosphere.
Living and working in Twente
If you’re thinking of moving to the Netherlands for work, think about Twente: an entrepreneurial, high-tech region in the east of the Netherlands. [Contributed by Expat Center Twente]
Twente, the Netherlands, has an innovative network with a powerful technological profile and international ambitions. Its economic agenda is focused on the High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) sector, which creates plenty opportunities for locals and expats looking for jobs in Twente. The sector also suits the DNA of the Twente region, which has been traditionally shaped by the manufacturing industry.
Companies, (local) government, and educational and knowledge institutions such as the University of Twente create advantages by making connections, leading to Twente’s true pioneering mentality. Many start-ups and high-tech applications are the result of the development of new products and services in Twente. These attributes make the Twente region attractive for high-tech companies, talented students, ambitious professionals and investors. Twente offers national and international opportunities to excel and contribute to a safe, sustainable and healthy society.
Expat Center Twente
When you decide to move to Twente, the Expat Center Twente can help. Our aim is to provide information to companies in the east of the Netherlands as well as their highly skilled international employees on all matters concerning moving to the Netherlands. With this wealth of information and personal service, Expat Center Twente makes relocation for both HR managers and expats as smooth as possible.
Besides offering information, many of the practical aspects of moving to the Netherlands can be arranged by the Expat Center Twente: applying for work and residence permits or orientation tours through Twente, for example. Dutch language training, assistance with Dutch taxes, help looking for a house and finding jobs in Twente for expat partners are also services provided by Expat Center Twente.
The social aspect of moving to another country is not forgotten, either; the Expat Center Twente organises events on a regular basis, such as the monthly Expat Meet&Greet and family outings a few times a year. Through an English-language newsletter and social media, we keep internationals informed about practical matters, but also offer fun facts and interesting activities in the Twente region. The Expat Center Twente is a central point for companies and expats. The team of locals and expats is here to serve you: we are your connection to Twente! For more information visit our website: www.expatcentertwente.com
Jobs in Twente
The range of jobs in Twente is very broad. There are many technical occupations in the high-tech industry and IT sector, but also plenty of opportunities in the medical, education and financial sectors. With the business community and research institutions in Twente, Twente developed a special job board for highly qualified professionals. This job board not only offers these employment vacancies, but also traineeships and graduation assignments. Combined, the employers in Twente offer job vacancies to highly qualified (international) workers.
Take a look at the more than 1200 vacancies and 150 international vacancies on Twente.com to get started on your career and life in Twente.
Where to live near Amsterdam
Excellent transport links mean that living outside of Amsterdam and commuting daily is a viable option, opening up your options for finding a Dutch property.
From traditional Dutch villages to student cities, there are many great places to live close to Amsterdam, while still being accessible enough to commute and work in the Dutch capital.
Housing in Amsterdam and its suburbs tends to be densely packed, so if you’re looking for a large family home or perhaps need space for animals or a hobby, expand your search to the countryside around the city.
The excellent cycle path network makes even long cycle commutes safe and practical. Additionally, the Netherlands has a reliable and effective train network, making it easy to commute from one town or city to another. This is particularly advantageous if you and your partner want to work or study in different cities. It’s not uncommon for students to live at home and travel the length of the country to attend lectures. Bicycles are welcome on most trains, although not at rush hour, and stations have extensive cycle parking. Travelling by car is typically fraught with expensive parking and often rare parking spaces.
If you’re looking for a home in Amsterdam itself, check out our article on where to live in Amsterdam and our guide to Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, a lower rent and a vibrant city life, several nearby cities wll fit the bill.
Where to live near Amsterdam: Great for night life and culture
Living in Haarlem
A popular choice if you want a small city feel while still being close to Amsterdam. Haarlem has been a city since 1275 and now has a population of over 150,000. It has a strong culture and nightlife. Great transport links make it easier to get into the centre than from some of Amsterdam’s own suburbs. Read about where to live in Haarlem.
Haarlem at a glance:
• Location: 20km west of Amsterdam.
• Housing costs: Prices tend to be higher in the centre and near the station. Rents typically range from EUR 700–1,500 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
• Commuting options: Train to Amsterdam takes around 15–20 minutes, buses take somewhat longer depending on the route. Driving is possible, depending on your destination.
• Cars: Very limited parking in the city centre but the suburbs have better parking.
• Recreation: A cultural centre in its own right, Haarlem has museums, theatres, restaurants and bars in the centre. Lovely walks and green spaces along the River Sparne.
• Neighbourhood: Various neighbourhoods, including city centre and suburbs.
• See the Haarlem municipality website for more information.
Living in Leiden
Home to the country’s oldest university, Leiden has a beautiful historic city centre, and plenty of life. The young and diverse population give the city a vibrant feel without being overwhelming. The population is around 100–120,000 people, 20 percent of which are students. Read about where to live in Leiden.
Leiden at a glance:
• Location: 45km south-west of Amsterdam.
• Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 750–1,500 for a two-bedroom apartment.
• Commuting options: To Amsterdam it’s around 35 minutes by train or 40 minutes by car, if the roads are clear.
• Cars: Driving and parking in the city centre is difficult.
• Recreation: Museums, theatres, bars and restaurants are found throughout the city centre. The two rivers and many parks provide a pleasant outdoor space.
• Shopping: The city centre is a shopping destination for the whole region. Large supermarkets and big box stalls are on the outskirts.
• Neighbourhood: The town houses and apartments in the city turn into modern apartments and family homes as they sprawl outwards.
• See the Leiden municipality website for more information.
Where to live near Amsterdam: Great for students and tight budgets
Living in Hoofddorp
It was founded in the 1850s on land from a large inland lake, and the area is now home to many family homes. Although the town is small and peaceful, with a low crime rate and good schools, it is directly in the Schiphol flight path and very close to the airport, meaning property prices tend to be lower.
Hoofddorp at a glance:
• Location: 20km south-west of Amsterdam.
• Housing costs: Lower than average, particularly in the Schiphol flight path. Typically from EUR 1,000–1,500 per month for a four-bedroom house.
• Commuting options: Train takes around 20–30 minutes to Amsterdam, buses somewhat longer. Schiphol airport is nearby.
• Cars: Easy motorway access and many homes have parking.
• Recreation: Little entertainment beyond a few bars and restaurants. Plenty of attractive green parks, even in the city centre.
• Shopping: Large shopping area in city centre as well as big box stores on the outskirts.
• Neighbourhood: Many single-family homes and low-density apartments.
• See the Haarlemmermeer municipality website for more information.
Living in Utrecht
It’s the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, and Utrecht has a historic city centre, sprawling suburbs and a world top 50 university. As well as cultural events, theatres and museums, it’s also known as a bit of a party town, thanks to its 75,000 strong student population. Find out where to live in Utrecht.
Utrecht at a glance:
• Location: 40km south-east of Amsterdam.
• Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 650–1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, depending on proximity to city centre and train station. Family homes are from EUR 1,000–2,000 per month, typically farther out.
• Commuting options: Intercity train takes 27 minutes.
• Cars: Parking is difficult in the city centre but easier in the suburbs. Roads typically busy during rush hour.
• Recreation: Museums, theatres, culture and nightlife all focused in the city centre. Several small parks in central area.
• Shopping: Many shops of all sizes in city centre. Big box stores at city’s edge.
• Neighbourhood: A mix including city centre apartments and suburbs.
Where to live near Amsterdam: Great for families
Living in Amstelveen
A quiet suburb, and home to the International School of Amsterdam, Amstelveen is a popular choice for expats with kids. It provides easy access to nearby parks and countryside, as well as being within commuting distance of the centre. Read about where to live in Amstelveen.
Amstelveen at a glance:
• Location: South of Amsterdam, near Schiphol airport.
• Housing costs: Affordable, from around EUR 700–900 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
• Commuting options: An easy cycle to the many large companies located nearby. Trams, metro and buses connect the town to Amsterdam city centre with a journey time of about 45–60 minutes.
• Cars: Make sure your property has allocated parking as public parking is limited.
• Recreation: Bordered by the Amsterdamse Bos, a park the size of a neighbourhood, the area also has cinemas, restaurants and some decent bars.
• Shopping: Several malls and shopping strips, mostly chain stores and large supermarkets.
• Neighbourhood: Dense suburban housing with a mix of family homes and apartments.
• Read more on Amstelveen municipality website.
Living in Diemen
A small town entirely surrounded by Amsterdam city districts, Diemen provides family housing within easy commuting distance of the city centre. The cultural life is overshadowed by Amsterdam, but there is plenty of family friendly entertainment.
Diemen at a glance:
• Location: Around 9km south-east of Amsterdam city centre.
• Housing costs: Moderate, from around EUR 800–1,200 per month for a three-bedroom apartment or small house.
• Commuting options: Trains to the city centre take 15 minutes. Bus or bike also possible.
• Cars: Street parking is available in many areas. Houses often have one parking space and apartment buildings tend to have some parking.
• Recreation: Some cinemas, bars and restaurants. Plenty of green space including the main park, Diemerpolder, and walks along the river and canals.
• Shopping: Many small shops in walkable neighbourhoods. Large shops and supermarkets also scattered throughout.
• Neighbourhood: A mix of single-family houses and apartment blocks. Lots of families.
• Read more on Diemen municipality website.
Living in Almere
A planned city, Almere has lots of parks and lakes, and pleasant, peaceful neighbourhoods. The housing stock is also very new, compared to the rest of the country, as the first house was built here in the 1970s. Around 35 percent of the population are immigrants.
Almere at a glance:
• Location: 35km east of Amsterdam, on an island.
• Housing costs: Affordable, from EUR 800–1,500 per month for a four-bedroom house.
• Commuting options: Trains to Amsterdam take 20–35 minutes and there are six railways stations. By car, the trip is about 35 minutes with clear traffic.
• Cars: The city has plenty of parking and most homes have at least one parking space. Easy access to the A6 motorway
• Recreation: Pretty port area of Almere-Haven has restaurants and bars by the water.
• Shopping: Boutique shops and larger chain stores clustered in several shopping areas. Some malls.
• Neighbourhood: Growing rapidly with constant new developments. Primarily walkable, quiet neighbourhoods with family houses and low-density apartments.
Where to live near Amsterdam: Great for being active
Living in Aalsmeer
Home to the world’s largest flower auction, Aalsmeer is a popular tulip viewing destination. On the edge of a lake and surrounded by field of flowers in the spring and summer, it’s a beautiful place to walk or cycle and the town centre is pleasant too. Schiphol Airport is nearby, so some areas are noisy.
Aalsmeer at a glance:
• Location: 20km south-west of Amsterdam, between Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht and Leiden.
• Commuting options: The train to Amsteradm takes around 50 minutes, while on a clear road the car journey is just 30 minutes.
• Cars: Many houses have dedicated parking, plus street parking is available. Easy motorway access to Amsterdam, Haarlen, Utrecht, Leiden and Rotterdam.
• Recreation: A quiet town with little nightlife but plenty of sports and outdoor activities. Public parks throughout the city.
• Shopping: The city centre shops are clustered near the station, while larger shops, supermarkets and malls are farther out.
• Neighbourhood: The centre is denser housing, mostly apartments, while farther out are single-family homes and low-rise apartment blocks.
• Read more on Aalsmeer municipality website.
Living in Purmerend
Primarily a commuter town for Amsterdam, Purmerend has little nightlife and most of its inhabitants work in Amsterdam. Surrounded by agricultural land, Purmerend has a golf course, several public parks, waterways and is near the Markenmeer. It’s a good choice for those who prefer to spend their leisure time outdoors.
Purmerend at a glance:
• Location: 20km north of Amsterdam.
• Housing costs: Affordable, from EUR 800–1,500 per month for a four-bedroom house.
• Commuting options: There are three stations and the train to Amsterdam takes around 30 minutes. On a clear road the car takes the same. There are also buses.
• Cars: Most houses have parking, and there’s easy access to the A7 north/south motorway.
• Recreation: Little nightlife and limited cultural events but plenty of possibilities for hiking, watersports and cycling.
• Shopping: Good city centre shopping district plus supermarkets and malls farther out of town.
• Neighbourhood: Rapid expansion means a good supply of new suburbs with family homes and low-density apartments.
• Read more on Purmerend municipality website.
Where to live near Amsterdam: Great for peace and quiet
Living in Zaandam
This is a quiet commuter town outside Amsterdam, and Zaandam is full of pretty streets and houses with gardens. It has a main shopping street, a small museum and is home to Europe’s first McDonalds. It’s easy to get out of town to explore the Dutch countryside and waterways.
Zaandam at a glance:
• Location: Approximately 12km north-west of Amsterdam’s city centre.
• Housing costs: From EUR 650 per month for a two-bedroom house or apartment.
• Commuting options: It’s possible to cycle, take the bus or the train.
• Cars: Parking is easy with many houses having a garage and street parking. Commuting into the city is difficult.
• Recreation: Zaandam has a small town feel with some cinemas, independent restaurants and chains.
• Shopping: The town centre has both chain shops and independent boutiques and there are supermarkets scattered in the suburbs.
• Neighbourhood: Attractive for its small town feel and its proximity to Amsterdam.
• Read more on Zaanstad municipality website.
Living in Naarden
The old town is inside an amazing star fort, an earthworks in the shape of a star and surrounded by water. As a result, most housing is scattered around the town proper, in small, quiet and family-friendly suburbs.
Naarden at a glance:
• Location: 25km east of Amsterdam, by the water.
• Housing costs: Affordable, from around EUR 800–1,500 for a four-bedroom house.
• Commuting options: Trains take around 45 minutes to get to Amsterdam. Easy motorway access.
• Cars: Most houses have parking, and this small town is quite car friendly outside the fort area.
• Recreation: Quiet neighbourhoods with outdoor play areas and public parks. Little nightlife but plenty of watersports on the nearby Gooimeer.
• Shopping: Quirky boutiques in the old town centre with larger shops and supermarkets scattered around the suburbs.
• Neighbourhood: Mostly family homes and walkable suburban neighbourhoods.
• Read more on Naarden municipality website.
Where to live in Maastricht
Find the best places to live in Maastricht, the capital city in the southern province of Limburg which offers some of the top sites in the Netherlands.
Maastricht is located in the very south of the Netherlands, but right in the heart of Europe bordering Germany and Belgium. Maastricht is a city with an international environment that combines top technology with high life-quality. It also has some of the best historic sites in the Netherlands, comprising the second highest number of heritage sites in the country, after Amsterdam.
Maastricht is the capital city of the Dutch province of Limburg, and is well-connected to many main European cities: Aachen, Cologne, Frankfurt, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, as well as cities in Luxemburg, are all nearby.
It’s a diverse and colourful city with great historical significance. Its impressive past is reflected in the picturesque historic centre and location along the Meuse river. The ancient but vibrant city of Maastricht remains a popular destination for the international community who come to the capital of Limburg for education and work.
The Maastricht University is the most international university in the Netherlands, with more than 45 percent students from abroad. In the hilly countryside new technologies on chemicals and new materials, life sciences and smart services are booming. The three Brightlands campuses in the region are at the heart of global innovation. Maastricht is also centered in the Euregio area, which incorporates a collection of towns in the Netherlands and Germany that facilitate cross-border cooperation and activities.
The main historical points
Maastricht’s wealth of churches, mansions and treasure houses bear witness to its prosperous past, while the remains of the city walls and fortifications are relics of its more turbulent periods.
Artifacts on view in the city’s Bonnefantenmuseum provide evidence of Roman occupation of Maastricht during the rule of Augustus Caesar in the 1st century AD. Some 2,000 years ago it was an important Roman outpost called ‘Mosae Trajectum’, implying that it lay at the junction of the river Maas with roads leading to other Roman settlements. Merchants, farmers and traders gathered at this point and business burgeoned.
St Servatius, a bishop from Belgium, moved to Maastricht in the fourth century to establish a Christian community in the city. His legacy remains obvious with the oldest church and bridge in the city being named after him.
Later in the Middle Ages, the city became a trade centre prospering until the religious wars of the 16th and 17th century when the city was conquered and fell under the rule of the Spanish and later the French. Following secession in 1830 during the Belgian Revolution, Maastricht became the capital of Limburg, pledging loyalty to the Dutch kingdom under the reign of William I.
Maastricht remained a neutral territory during the First World War, resulting in an influx of refugees to the city. For the next 40 years economic hardship hit the city, which also suffered under German occupation during WWII. Maastricht was also the birthplace of the Maastricht Treaty, which gave birth to the European Union and the euro currency.
Today, Maastricht is a vibrant cultural, educational and political centre full of bon vivants. Ceramics, paper, beer and cement are its main products. Students from the six universities in the area add to the city’s vitality. The centre of Maastricht is declared a protected area, and walking is the best way to enjoy it.
Maastricht is a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. Churches, museums, parks, caves and ancient ruins ensure there is something for all interests. Maastricht also has a full calendar of festivals and events throughout the year including the colourful three-day Carnival held in February. The attractive city squares are perfect places for sampling café food and drinks, relaxing and taking in the gezelligheid of Maastricht.
Combine Maastricht’s 20 centuries of history, art, culture, historic buildings and tradition with a lively international atmosphere, pavement cafés, good food and shopping and international education, and you’ll understand why the capital of Limburg is growing in popularity with expats.
What language is that?
Although Dutch remains the dominant language of the city, the local dialect, Limburgish, can still be heard. During the 18th century, French was the predominant language in the city, especially in upper class circles. The French influence remains evident in some street names within the old city centre. Nowadays, German is also widely spoken due to the proximity of Maastricht to the German border. Similarly, English is becoming more widely spoken, particularly in educational settings like Maastricht University where many courses are taught in the English language.
Getting to the city
Maastricht has its own airport referred to by locals as Beek, just 10km north of the city centre. Another seven airports can be reached in less than an hour by car. The main train station is close to the Centrum. The smaller station, Maastricht Randwyck, is close to the university and business district. High-speed trains stop in Maastricht en route to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, London and Paris. In addition to regular bus services, visitors to Maastricht can travel by boat from Belgium and the rest of the Netherlands and arrive at Beatrixhaven.
Where to live in Maastricht
Historic buildings dating back to the 17th century jostle with shops, cafes, restaurants and weekly markets in the centre of Maastricht. Vrijthof square is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the surroundings, and on the right day, an open-air concert or event. Daily, hundreds of people visit Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (the cathedral) and the exclusive stores located in the Stokstraatkwartier. Encompassing city walls, university buildings and the municipal park (Stadspark), the Jekerkwartier has an artistic slant that entices creative types and students.
Across the river lies the old neighbourhood of Wyck, famous for specialty stores selling antiques, art and delicious food. Further south is the new district of Ceramique, previously a large industrial ceramic manufacturing area. Since 1995 the area has been developed into a modern residential, business and museum district, favoured by expats and locals wanting modern accommodation in an inner-city suburb with all amenities and services.
Bassin and Belvedere
The inner-city harbour, ‘t Bassin, is found on the northwest side of Maastricht and encompasses the districts of Bosscherveld, Lanakerveld, Front Quarter and some parts of Statenkwartier and Boschstraatkwartier. Since redevelopment started in 1999, this area has turned into a residential and commercial global village.
Sint Pieter and surroundings
This green residential area sits along Jeker valley and St Petersberg Hill, yet is still within walking distance to the city centre or into Belgium. The Sint Pietersberg tunnels – quarried into the marlstone to create underground shelter for protection against invasion by foreign forces – plus Marl Caves and St Pieter’s Fortare are all popular tourist attractions.
City limits and surroundings
There are spacious surrounding landscapes decorated with vineyards, orchards and the occasional restaurant and hotel. Golfing, water sports and outdoor recreational activities are plenty for those who enjoy an active life.
Facts and links
• Population:122,185 (www.maastricht.incijfers.nl)
• International residents: 29 percent
• Information about Maastricht: www.maastricht.nl, www.maastrichtregion.com
• Information about Limburg: www.zuidlimburg.nl
• International Schools: United World College (primary and secondary sections) www.uwcmaastricht.com
• Expat Information: www.expatsinmaastricht.com
• An infographic on the Maastricht/Limburg area
Get an idea of Maastricht from the tourist office‘s video.
Where to live in Groningen
Discover historical Groningen, a vibrant university city in the north of the Netherlands that has one of the country’s youngest populations.
Historical Groningen is a vibrant university city in the north of the Netherlands. The many benefits of having the youngest population in the country includes a yearly programme of arts, culture and music that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
An ancient history
Estimates based on archaeological evidence from this region, dates human activity in the area as starting sometime between 3950-3720BC, although the first major settlement was established later in the third century AD. The city ‘villa Cruoninga’ is noted in the official records of 1040, making this city founded on the northernmost point of the Hondsrug region, an historical treasure.
From early times, Groningen was an important trade centre in Northern Europe. A wall was constructed around the perimeters to protect the inhabitants and a local dialect was adopted as the dominant language.
Over the following centuries, Groningen was ruled by the Spanish (during the Eighty Years War 1568-1648, also referred to as the Dutch War of Independence) before again regaining independence under the leadership of William of Orange; fought an attack from the Bishop of Munster and his forces during the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672); and had its city centre destroyed during the Battle of Groningen in the second World War (1945).
Groningen is situated close to the German border, which gives local industry easy accessibility to eastern and northern European countries. The over 9000 companies provide 123,000 jobs in the area. Organisations include the world’s largest sugar factory, CSM Vierverlaten; Hooghoudt (of jenever fame); Woolters-Noordhoff publishing house; Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil (each owning 50percent share in the largest natural gas fields in Western Europe).
A centre for education
Important institutions for education, service provision and research the University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, and Hanze University of Applied Sciences (hogeschool) all attract international students as well as national.
The energy of youth
With a population over 190,000, Groningen is the seventh largest city in the Netherlands and the capital city in the north of the country. More than 60 percent of the inhabitants are under the age of 40, with 20 percent being students. Students often choose to continue enjoying what the city offers, by remaining in Groningen to work and raise their future families.
Arts & culture
Art, culture and entertainment thrive in this environment. Groningen city centre boasts around 160 bars, cafés, open-air terraces and nightclubs with more liberal opening hours than Amsterdam. Many international bands consider Groningen a worthy venue to play during a European tour. Subsequently, the city is sometimes seen as a rock capital, especially as many local bands have launched a successful career from the annual Eurosonic or Noorderslag festival held in Groningen.
Other attractions include the Museum of Groningen; Anatomical Museum; Northern Maritime Museum; Niemeijer Tobacco Museum; Natural History Museum; Gerardus van der Leeuw Anthropological Museum; Museum of Graphic Arts; and, the University Museum. Every August, the 11-day Noorderzon performing arts festival gives young talent, new productions and established performers a chance to showcase their work.
Groningen has its own airport, 10 kilometres south of the city centre. Cheap flights to European cities are also available across the border from Bremen airport. Three train stations provide a regular service to most Dutch cities: Groningen, Groningen Noord, and Groningen Europapark. Qbuzz runs the inner and intercity bus transportation. By car, the journey to Amsterdam takes around 2.20 hours; or three hours to The Hague or Rotterdam. Driving to Germany means that you can be in Hamburg in three hours or Bremen within around two.
In 2010, Groningen ranked second in an EU quality of life survey comparing 75 EU cities. Researchers collected data on the happiness of inhabitants in regards to subjects like transport, health and cultural facilities. The survey found that 60 percent of all journeys made in Groningen were by bicycle.
Where to live in Groningen
The centre of Groningen (Centrum) is popular with students and young singles perhaps, most likely due to the proximity of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Schilderswijk and Zeeheldenbuurt
Historical area with 19th century buildings, close to the beautiful Noorderplantsoen park that is frequented by the locals, especially on sunny days. Mixed residential population, although again popular with students due to the nearby University. Slightly larger houses, some with gardens.
Home to the popular theatre, De Oosterpoort, and a number of bars and cafes, this area is sought after by young professional couples and students. Historical buildings, including ‘schipperswoning’ or traditional Dutch fishermen houses are located in this neighbourhood.
Behind Central Station and close to Stadspark (outside festival venue), this area has easy accessibility to Groningen Centrum. Favoured by students.
Korrewegwijk and Indische Buurt
Two neighbourhoods that have merged to become one: Korrewegwijk. Cheap accommodation available in this diverse neighbourhood, with a strong Asian influence. A large discount supermarket is based here.
Another diverse neighbourhood to the northeast of Centrum, old monuments and some cheaper accommodation available. Green areas around a popular park.
Further out and offering larger homes with gardens, this area is popular with young couples and families. The Zernikecomplex is located here.
Two large, university apartment blocks for international students are located here. Also the ACLO sport complex.
A 20-minute bike ride from the Centrum, these residential areas are close to both natural and manmade recreational areas.
Facts and Links
• Population: 189,991 www.cbs.nl
• Number of non-dutch: 39,326 www.cbs.nl
• International Schools: International School Groningen – Primary Department at Groningse Schoolvereniging: www.g-s-v.nl, Secondary Department at St Maartens College: www.maartenscollege.nl
• Online Magazine for University Students: www.groningenlife.nl
• Local Council: www.gemeente.groningen.nl
• Local Politics: www.politiekgroningen.nl
• Neighborhood Information: www.groningenlife.nl
Where to live in Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden offers an affordable and comfortable lifestyle in a beautiful old city surrounded by green spaces and waterways.
Leeuwarden was founded along the shores of the Middelzee in the second century AD, and is around 2 hrs 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train, or 1.5 hours by car. Originally a farming centre, Leeuwarden enjoyed good trade relations until the 15th century when the waterway silted up, effectively stopping all trade by boat. In 1435, Leeuwarden was granted town-rights, becoming the capital city of the region in 1504. At this time the central government and jurisdiction settled here and the city became the residence of the Frisian stadtholders.
Today Leeuwarden is the administrative, economic, educational and cultural heart of Friesland (625,000 inhabitants), which has its own language: Stadsfries or Stadfries – a mixture of Hollandic dialect vocabulary and West Frisian grammar.
The city is the centre of local government; home to financial services (including Friesland Bank) and insurance companies (Achmea and Aegon); and has a growing creative industry based on ‘Serious Gaming’. Other important industries in the area include metal processing, water technology, and agricultural-nutritional business (Koninklijke Friesland Foods NV).
Leeuwarden accommodates a number of highly respected universities of applied science (HBO) including the Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden, Van Hall Institute and Stenden University. There are also campuses for Wageningen University, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, and Universiteit Twente. With the inclusion of the two MBO schools, Friese Poort and Friesland College, Leeuwarden has a student population of over 30,000.
The famous Dutch 200km speed skating race (extremely cold weather permitting) Elfstedentocht starts and begins in Leeuwarden which is also the host city for the annual international domino festival.
Throughout the centuries Leeuwarden has been a source of intriguing characters in literature, science and politics.
Erotic dancer Mata Hari, who was controversially executed by the French in 1917 for allegedly spying for the Germans during the First World War, was a native of the city. Born Margaretha Zelle in Leeuwarden on 7 August 1876, the city has taken her to its heart and still campaigns for her exoneration, claiming she was wrongly convicted.
Other notable locals range from Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) one of the world’s most famous graphic artists – to the relatively unknown, Titia Bergsma, the first Western woman to be allowed into sealed-from-the-inside Japan. Ironically, she is more famous in Japan than in the Netherlands.
With property prices considerably less than the Dutch national average, Leeuwarden is an ideal place for young families and first-time home-buyers. Friesland does not have such large expat communities as seen in the Randstad, so moving to the area may initially seem isolating. What makes the area enticing is more space at an affordable price in a child-friendly environment (with more than 40 primary schools) as well as the beautiful surrounding countryside.
Where to live in Leeuwarden
As with many Dutch cities, Leeuwarden Centre has the charm of old homes set on old streets and canals. The centre has been renovated over the past 25 years, giving the city a cleaner, and more spacious feel. There are three cinemas, a beautiful library with a good selection of English books, and a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants (although many are aimed at the student market). Naturally, living in the Centrum also increases your chances of English conversations while you are still learning the Dutch language.
The northern suburbs offer easy proximity to most water-sport activities, especially sailing and rowing. Suburbs that are within two kilometers from the centre of Leeuwarden include the Liberty District (popular with students); Oldegalileën (homes from the 1930s, and residential mix of young and old); Rengerspark (includes a beautiful park, university campus and stately homes); Bloemenbuurt (diverse, colourful neighborhood with lovely 1930s houses); Transvaal (upmarket and desired area); and Boniface (expensive houses including large villas with gardens. Popular with families).
According to estimates of property values (WOZ) in the east of Leeuwarden, there is a variation of almost 100 percent between the Indian neighbourhood (close to the Cambuur football Stadium, with a range of housing dating from the 1930s–1960s) and the suburb of Camminghaburen (spacious homes on large lots built in the 1980s and 1990s). Also upscale and close to the city centre is Orange District (Dutch mansions built around 100 years ago) and Tulpenburg (accommodation more suited to singles and couples, including some converted warehouses). Established, and less expensive areas with a full array of interesting services are Welgelegen and Zeeheldenbuurt.
Many families choose to live in the western regions of Leeuwarden, especially in the more affluent areas of Helicon, Westeinde and Vosse Park. These areas offer spacious homes in green neighbourhoods. Similarly, Vogelwijk is a green residential area with homes dating back to the 1930s (for both the young and old). Singles prefer Sonnenborgh and students tend to find cheaper accommodation in the Valerius Quarter.
The suburbs of Wielenpolle (long-stay Dutch residents), Julianepark (large 30s style houses popular with families) and Huizum (well-maintained houses and gardens close to the city centre) are sought after by first home buyers looking to settle down. If you are looking for a condominium with views, maybe head to the historical area of Nijlan (favoured by older residents). Further from the city centre are the districts of Zuiderburen which offer large, newer homes (waterside, so perfect if you need to park your boat nearby), and Techum (houses on large blocks – on what was previously an area of small farms).
Facts and Links
• Population: 94,838 www.cbs.nl
• Non-Dutch residents: 16,503
• Leeuwarden info: www.livingleeuwarden.nl
• Friesland province info: www.fryslan.nl
Where to live in Haarlem
Haarlem is a beautiful old city, close to the beach, and only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station.
Haarlem, the capital of the province of Noord Holland , has a population of over 150,000 inhabitants and is the thirteenth largest city in the Netherlands. Within the greater Haarlem area referred to as Kennemerland and including the neighbourhoods of Bloemendaal, Aerdenhout, Bentveld, Heemstede, Overveen, Sant-poort, and Schalkwijk, the population count increases to about 215,000.
Beautiful and vibrant old city
Haarlem, as the historical centre of the tulip bulb growing district, is also known as the Bloemenstad, translated as flower city. The Spaarne River winds its way through the city, which was once a port town exporting local chocolate, beer, linen and silk.
For the past 700 years, weekly markets have been held in the Grote Markt, in the foregrounds of the impressive cathedral, the Grote Kerk. Ten streets converge onto this central market place, and each street is worth wandering along just to look at the beautiful facades – often a mix of local homes, quaint shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The Grote Markt hosts an assortment of music concerts and fairs throughout the year, and on any day is just a great place to relax over a drink and watch the world go by.
On a sunny day, cycling the 25 minutes to the beach at Zandvoort or Bloemendaal aan Zee is popular. Walking, running and cycling in the dunes and local parklands are yearlong favourites. Haarlem hosts many sporting clubs with something for everyone including climbing walls, cricket, outside swimming pools and honkball. Both hockey and football fans are well catered for, with numerous clubs located within the area.
Arts and culture
For art and culture lovers, the Teylers museum is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands with art, science and natural history exhibitions. Painting by the Dutch masters can be found at the Frans Hals museum, with more modern work located in De Hallen. Definitely worth a visit is Het Dolhuys – a museum for psychiatry, close to Central Station. Haarlem also hosts many music events including the annual Haarlem Jazzstad (jazz music festival), Haarlemhoutfestival (music and theatre) and Bevrijdingspop (May 5).
Haarlem is relatively small for a Dutch city and is easy to navigate on foot or bicycle. To access the surrounding areas there are regular Connexxion bus services. Similarly taking the bus to Schipol and Amsterdam is generally faster and cheaper than going by car. The train service to Amsterdam leaves around every 10 minutes and will get you there in 15 minutes. There is a direct train service to Den Haag, Rotterdam, Leiden and Dordrecht. Local trains to Bloemendaal, Zandvoort, Heemstede-Aerdenhout leave regularly.
Where to live in and around Haarlem
Haarlem offers varied accommodation and is more costly in the city centre. Living in the old city centre is popular, although houses tend to be smaller and less viable for families. Popular areas for families due to space and location of schools include Kleverparkbuurt, Leidesbuurt, Garenkokerskwartier, Bosch en Vaart, and Koninginnebuurt. The surrounding towns of Bloemendaal, Heemstede and Aerdenhout are also popular, although usually more pricey choices.
If you’re looking to buy a home or apartment in Haarlem, note that you’ll need to be a registered resident of the city for two years to buy accommodation that costs EUR 136,135 or less. Due to the cost of Haarlem properties, this is generally not a problem. Average rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre is EUR 1450 per month, and median monthly disposable salary after tax is EUR 1800.
Haarlem facts and links
• Population: 151.841, including 25.7percent from foreign extraction
• International Schools: International School Haarlem. Other international schools near by are located in Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Alkmaar
• English speaking group for children and adult social activities, information, and support: www.esphaarlem.nl
• Local Information: www.haarlemonline.nl
• Local Council Information: www.haarlem.nl.
Amsterdam vs. Leiden
Blogger BlondebutBright (AKA Janelle Ward) compares the joys of living in Amsterdam with the more sedate pleasures of life in Leiden.
2011 marks the start of my fifth year in Leiden. Since I spent a little more than five years in Amsterdam before moving here, it seems fitting to write a post comparing life experiences in the two cities.
In 2001, moving to Amsterdam from the Midwest was a huge culture shock in terms of transportation. I went from a car-loving culture to mastering the art of bike riding again. Once I got over the frequent crashes, I loved the freedom of biking instead of driving. And Amsterdam was the perfect size to get around on two wheels. Healthy, environmentally friendly, and fast – what a winning combination!
In Leiden, the bikes are plentiful. But since we live smack dab in the centre of a rather small village, I’ve discovered a new, even more convenient way to get around: walking! Like Amsterdam, everything is within 15 minutes from my front door, but now I just have to put on a pair of shoes and pop an umbrella in my purse. Sometimes I think I’ve been ruined for life in many places–especially if I insist on having everything within easy reach of home. Both cities provide a great quality of life. No getting behind the wheel every time I need anything.
I adore Amsterdam and always will. But I still grit my teeth when I remember the hordes of tourists that flooded its streets, especially in the summer. Fair weather days were an exercise in dodging map-toting individuals unfamiliar with the meaning of bike lanes. Even worse were the groups that hopped on rental bikes and clogged the roads with their rusty peddling skills.
Leiden, I dare to argue, is just as beautiful as Amsterdam, but is strangely almost tourist free. I’m not sure how this charming city has stayed off the mainstream tourist circuit, but thus far it has.
Amsterdam wins in terms of quantity of museums. World-famous offerings like the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum in a relatively short distance from each other? You can’t beat that. I’m also a regular visitor to Amsterdam for English-language cultural events, like through the John Adams Institute.
Leiden does have its share of noteworthy museums, and even more than Amsterdam is a city structured around its world-famous university. The city is less international (though still very much so) and the expat community is thriving, but I do miss having a plethora of options like I had in Amsterdam. Not to mention a little more English in the air. Both cities are built around gorgeous canals, allowing for breathtaking scenery all year round and the option of boating through the city when the weather allows. I will admit the bar and restaurant scene is far superior in Amsterdam, though Leiden boasts its share of visit-worthy gastronomy. And nothing can beat the cosmopolitan vibe of Amsterdam. But it is just a half-hour train ride from Leiden. I may have found the best of both worlds.
Where to live in The Hague
Den Haag is the third most populated Dutch city, and has a lively expat population due to a hoard of international organisations, schools and embassies.
Den Haag is a mixture of modern skylines with a historic city centre, and the scenery and activities are as diverse as its mix of residents. Den Haag is the third most populated city in the Netherlands, the capital of South Holland, the seat of government, and home to the Dutch royal family.
Den Haag’s history
Den Haag is a multicultural, bureaucratic hub with four centuries of international integration.
It has grown as an outpost for most of the world’s human rights organisations including the International Court of Justice. Many embassies are based here and, with numerous international schools, it’s a comfortable place for relocation.
It’s also known as ‘s-Gravenhage (literally, the counts’ hedge), dating back to the 13th century when the Count of Holland’s hunting lodge was founded here. History, ritual and tradition play their part in this city, with terrific museums and cultural events.
The Hague today
Smart areas nearby such as Rijswijk and Voorburg have a sprinkling of Michelin-starred restaurants, though Den Haag itself is most famous for Indonesian cuisine. Building development has been active in past years (www.wonenindenhaag.nl), and newly-built residential neighbourhoods on the city’s outskirts, such as Leidschenveen-Ypenburg and Wateringse Veld, are expected to be in demand as the city approaches some 520,000 residents in 2020.
Where to live in The Hague
The gated villas of Wassenaar house diplomats and upmarket expats, as well as members of the House of Orange. This district is known by some as the Beverly Hills of the Netherlands, and it remains a favourite among expat families with large budgets for housing, situated in close proximity to several of the area’s international schools.
This city centre area of beautiful 19th-century houses and apartments is full of character, with broad streets and big town houses and villas. This is embassy land and a top location where prices are premium and parking space problematic.
Staten quartier/ Duinoord
This area has a similar feel to Archipel, with charming, spacious and elegant homes. Close to shops and cafes, it is a popular area. Typically smaller housing can be found in Duinoord, which also has a creative ambiance.
It’s a green, quiet location but still close to motorway and other transport links with woodlands to the north and east. There are traditional, beautiful 1930s villas inhabited by wealthy older residents, and some single-family homes. Considering the space and environs, it is a good option for young families with children. Also in this area is Mariahoeve, which has the benefit of being on the train line and close to the British primary school.
If you want something less genteel, head for the seaside town of Scheveningen with its casino on the beachfront (below) and long, sandy beach in either direction.
Den Haag facts and links
• Population: 515,880 (www.denhaag.buurtmonitor.nl)
• International residents: 50.5 percent
• International schools:
• The American School of the Hague: www.ash.nl;
• The British School in the Netherlands (BSN/IBDP): www.britishschool.nl;
• Deutsche Internationale Schule: www.disdh.nl;
• The European School of The Hague: www.eshthehague.nl;
• Haagsche Schoolvereeniging, HSV (Dutch international primary school): www.hsvdenhaag.nl;
• The International School of the Hague: www.ishthehague.nl;
• Le Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh: www.lyceevangogh.nl;
• Szkola Polska/Polish Embassy School in The Hague: www.spk-haga.nl;
• Sekolah Indonesia/The Indonesian Embassy School in the Netherlands: www.sekolahindonesia.nl.
• Links: www.denhaag.nl, www.thehagueonline.com, www.thehagueinternationalcentre.nl.
This video by the tourist office gives you a quick glimpse into The Hague.
Where to live in Het Gooi
With its lush green forests, rolling hills and affluent neighbourhoods, Het Gooi is one of the most coveted places to live in the Netherlands.
The region of Het Gooi – a cluster of villages southeast of Amsterdam and north of Utrecht on the hill ridge – is known as the home of the rich and famous. Some of the top-earning and most well-known Dutch celebrities and business people call its ritzy villages home.
Expats in the Netherlands can live among the rich and famous in Het Gooi, too, as well as close to pristine nature reserves that are still easily accessible by private and public transportation – the only question is where. Expatica gives a short overview of the area, and how to select a new home in Het Gooi.
A short history of Het Gooi
The name Het Gooi comes from the word gouw in Dutch, which refers to an old Germanic term for a region within a country – but the history of Het Gooi is much older than its name. Prehistoric pottery and burial mounds from the Bronze Age have been found in Hilversum, and the region remained largely undeveloped until the beginning of the 14th century.
Naarden was the first city in Het Gooi, and has preserved much of its history as well as its remarkable form: the pointed star shape of medieval bastion forts. The region continued to grow thanks to the waterways built between the 16th and 18th century, leading from Amsterdam. As a result, rich merchants and other wealthy individuals flocked to Het Gooi to build their massive villas.
Het Gooi is often combined with the Vechtstreek region and Eemland, which is just to the west of Het Gooi and includes the Vecht River as well as Eemnes, Baarn and Soest; the two regions make up the protected North Holland region of Gooi and Vechtstreek. While the actual composition of the region is debatable, Het Gooi typically comprises Blaricum, Hilversum, Huizen, Laren and Gooise Meren, the latter of which became a municipality in 2016 and includes Bussum, Muiden and Naarden. The Gooi and Vechtstreek region comprises the municipalities of Het Gooi, as well as Vechtstreek municipalities Weesp and Wijdemeren. The municipality Stichtse Vecht is also considered part of the Vechtstreek region, which includes Nigtevecht and Breukelen, among others.
The top three places to live in Het Gooi
Hilversum, as the centre of Het Gooi and the Hollywood of Holland, is one of the best places to live in the Netherlands for young expats. The city is thriving, with nearly 90,000 inhabitants and the famous Media Park – a business park that houses Dutch public broadcasting system NPO and media company RTL, among others – which provides ample job opportunities and an international atmosphere. A shopping district – the largest in Het Gooi – and plenty of festivals and events make it popular for the younger crowd, but kid-friendly neighbourhoods and a large number of international schools in Hilversum make it ideal for parents as well.
Those who want to live near Amsterdam in a city with a rich history can opt to live in Naarden, part of the Gooise Meren municipality – which, according to Elsevier, is one of the top 10 best municipalities in the whole of the Netherlands. The town is located within the impressive star fort, and is a quiet, family-friendly place to live, with large houses and streets as well as ample parking space (unlike many Dutch cities that feature narrow roads and limited parking).
South of Naarden is Bussum, once just a small hamlet that grew into one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Het Spiegel, a residential area on the west side of the village, contains a number of majestic 19th- and 20th-century villas, many of which are available to rent. The Naarden-Bussum railway station is located in the northeast of Bussum, providing easy transportation to Hilversum and Almere (10 minutes) and Amsterdam, including Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (about 30 minutes).
Top three places to live in Gooi and Vechtstreek
Although not technically part of Het Gooi, Eemnes is often considered as a member of the club. With tons of green space and just about 9,000 residents, it’s a paradise for families with young children or those looking to get away from the bustle of the city but still remain within reach. Eemnes is also known as one of the most accessible places in the Netherlands, with one report claiming that one could travel to any place in the Netherlands within 78 minutes – ideal for those who are always on the move.
The current Blaricum municipality exists alongside the old village and the neighbourhoods Crailo and the Bijvanck.
Blaricum is a village with a friendly and open character. The village is adjacent to the water first and the other side is surrounded by moorland, beautiful forest and Engen. Blaricum is surrounded by greenery and agricultural history still makes her proud. The old farmhouses in the village recall times when agriculture was the main source of income. The beautiful villas around it indicate a rich history.
Those who drive into the old village of Blaricum, immediately see the farms with thatched roofs. Some of these farms have been from known artists and visionaries. Blaricum has a lot of valuable architectural buildings built by famous architects. Characteristic of the old village are the winding roads, the workers and the beautiful green hedges. The fields with rye and buckwheat offer a beautiful sight.
Blaricum has cosy restaurants such as the Red Sun, Tretorria Bruno, Moeke Spijkstra and the Oude Tak, as well as unusual shops. One of its ice cream shops was named the best ice cream maker of the Netherlands in 2009.
The small village Laren is located in the heart of the Gooi area. It also is the oldest village in the area. Although this used to be a farmers villages nowadays it is one of the places to be.
In the heart of the village, the Brink, you will find interesting shops, cosy cafes and excellent restaurants. There is also St John’s Basilica and in the summer season a pancake stall. Under the old oak is regularly played bocce. On the Brink, you find a variety of activities like the May 4 Memorial, Queen’s festivities and ice skating in winter.
In the nice centre of Laren, you find more than 80 mode boutiques and can discover the delights of shopping. Or you settle down at one of the many terraces and look at the shoppers. Laren creates beautiful, varied walks along the picturesque Saxon farmhouses. In the surrounding nature, you find different tracks. Also, a bike ride is a fun way to get to know the area.
The highlight of Loosdrecht, a town within the municipality of Wijdemeren, is its lakes – the Loosdrechtse Plassen become holiday hotspots in the warmer months. Here you can rent a boat, start sailing lessons or water-skiing. The area is actually divided in two: Oud-Loosdrecht is to the west, right on the lake where the residences are mostly lakeside villas. Nieuw-Loosdrecht is further east and is more urban than its leisurely counterpart.
For truly small-town living, Nigtevecht is a favourite. With a population of just over 1,000, Nigtevecht has far more green areas (and blue, thanks to its many lakes) than people; it’s one of the reasons it is a generally a holiday spot. Older couples looking to settle down or families with outdoorsy children may find their perfect home in Nigtevecht.
Where to live in Amstelveen
Amstelveen is a leafy, prosperous, family-oriented suburb close to Amsterdam, which has a growing population of international residents.
“I’m glad I’m living in Amstelveen; it’s greener than Amsterdam, but you still have the advantage of living next to a big city.” – G.B., Latvian, Amstelveen
Green and leafy, nestled between Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport and flanked by the huge park Amsterdamse Bos, Amstelveen is suburban and family-oriented with a middle- to up-scale feel.
As a suburb of Amersterdam, prices are slightly cheaper than in the centre and there’s more family-style housing with gardens (80 percent built after 1960). There are many green areas, excellent shopping and local amenities, particularly for sporty types. The extra space means parking is not a problem and many homes have garages. Amstelveen’s population is booming, expected to reach almost 86,000 citizens by 2020. Some 3,000 houses are estimated to be built by 2023, with more than half on the edge of the Westwijk area.
What does Amstelveen offer?
Close proximity to both Schipol airport and Amsterdam make Amstelveen attractive for international companies, and high living standards appeal to a growing expat community. The International School of Amsterdam is based here with more than 1,000 students from over 50 countries, but pupils attending Amsterdam’s other international schools (such as the British School) often live in Amstelveen. The area is flanked by Amsterdam’s largest park, the Amsterdamse Bos, and the CoBrA Museum adds of a dash of culture.
Where to live in Amstelveen
Het Oude Dorp
‘The Old Village’ is the historic hub of the original settlement (1278) with the Amsterdamse Bos to the west and the town centre to the east. There’s a mix of older detached houses, farms, terraced houses, and apartments.
Westwijk is a relatively new area of Amstelveen, which is more modern and spacious and lined with small canals. The one central shopping zone in the centre of the neighbourhood preserves the feeling of a residential area. Larger detached family homes and villas are available here, in green and tranquil settings that offer a lot of individual privacy. These are premium properties, so expect to pay premium prices.
Directly north of the town centre, this is considered classic Amstelveen with its wide streets, huge trees and post-war housing next to small parks. There are terraces, semidetached houses and villas.
Running along the Amsterdamse Bos, there’s a mix of housing, shops and businesses in a variety of styles and periods. The Prinsessenbuurt in the north west of Patrimonium is known for large open spaces and detached houses, set among some of the oldest small parks in the area.
Amstelveen facts and links
• Population: 85,749 (www.amstelveen.incijfers.nl)
• International residents: 14 percent
• International schools:
• Florencius International School: www.florenciusinternationalschool.nl
• International School of Amsterdam: www.isa.nl
• Links: www.amstelveen.nl, www.amstelveenweb.com
A guide to the neighbourhoods of Amsterdam
Moving to Amsterdam? Here’s a guided tour through the best parts of the Dutch capital, which remains one of Europe’s best cities to live in.
With some 100km of canals and more bicycles than residents, Amsterdam’s scenic and quirky centre offers a diverse living experience for its dynamic population. 180 different nationalities make up around 50 percent of the city’s residents. There are many distinct neighbourhoods densely packed together and competition for housing is fierce. An estimated average range of rental prices in 2018 is EUR 18-EUR 23 per sqm.
According to Patrick Daas from Expats Amsterdam, a company that provides a range of expat-related services from visas to mortgages, Amsterdam is expected to have a population of 850,000 by 2025. This growth will be made possible by new residential developments: IJburg and Zeeburgereiland in Oost, and Bongerd and Overhoeks in Noord; these neighbourhoods offered some of the most modern, spacious deals in 2018.
Here’s a quick guide to Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods, with some tips from Patrick on the best places to live.
Centre and canals
In the centre, apartments veer towards snug rather than spacious and stairs are steep. Prices on the canal ring (grachtengordel) lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses are vertiginous, although many expats enjoy the ‘typically Dutch’ experience in grandeur surrounds.
“This district just west of the grachtengordel and north of Amsterdam’s shopping district is an exceptionally desirable neighbourhood”, says Daas. Its beautiful canals and quirky, narrow streets are occupied by a bohemian mixture of yuppies and expats, with a core of young families and business-owning locals. Prices have exploded in recent years and in terms of price per square metre, it offers poor value and accommodation is often cramped. In the bordering district of Westerpark, housing development on former industrial sites have filled the need for affordable three to four bedroom houses, with the benefit of a huge park nearby.
Directly south of the centre lies the regenerated ‘De Pijp’, or so-called Latin Quarter, which is a vibrant, funky neighbourhood that has benefited from government regeneration and initiatives to increase private-home ownership opportunities, to the benefit of many expats. Rising prices reflect its newfound status as a desired neighbourhood among Dutch college students, creative professionals and artists.
Oud-Zuid is a popular upmarket location for expats with easy access to international schools, the Vondelpark and spacious, privately-owned housing. This is a wealthy part of the city, and its demographics have supported its uptown spirit for decades. There’s a leafy, gracious-living feel with cafes and shopping streets to match. Duivelseiland is one desirable part with apartment accommodation, numerous cafes and market shops.
“My husband and I moved to Amsterdam with high expectations about living in a vibrant, international, liberal and tolerant place. So far I haven’t been disappointed.” – Aliye Kurt-Suedhoff, Turkish-Canadian, Amsterdam
Past De Pijp on the other side of the Amstel river lie Oost and the Indische Buurt. “Things were cheaper here until a gentrification movement of young professionals and creative experts introduced trendy cafes and shops and spiked rental and housing prices” says Daas, but still, the bonus of the river, newly-renovated Oosterpark, and the area’s proximity to nature reserves and rivers make this zone very appealing to a wide variety of Amsterdam dwellers. From students to internationals, young families to retirees, expats to long-time residents, Oost side is a melting pot of culture.
West of the Vondelpark is Oud West, similar to Oost in demographics, where housing is cheaper (and smaller) yet very popular with expats, particularly districts such as Helmersbuurt, which is a little more urban and edgy than Oud-Zuid and not as expensive for buyers. As an up-and-coming area of the city, it’s an exciting place to be, and prices are rising as bars and shops make way for renovations and new neighbours. With the recent creation of De Hallen, a shopping/cultural centre which is home to popular gourmet food court Food Hallen, the neighbourhood has also seen a slew of new residential developments crop up, attracting young families and internationals.
There are many quaint, green areas of Noord with curving streets of small English-country-inspired houses; and these are highly coveted now that the district is going through a tremendous cultural revival. But Noord covers a lot of land (all the way to the charming country villages of Broek in Waterland and Uitdam), and the formerly industrial areas are being reclaimed by creative developers who are entirely reshaping the area’s skyline. New housing is sprouting up like flowers in Spring, not only along the IJ River but also in the more rural areas as well. “Noord is the new hot spot to settle down” says Daas, who explains that amenities, transportation, infrastructures, and especially entertainment and culture are following suit.
Zeeburg, KNSM and Docklands
Behind Centraal Station lies a very different Amsterdam. Zeeburg (which comprises Oostelijk Havengebeid, the Indische Buurt and the new islands of Ijburg) offers architecturally interesting surroundings in one of Amsterdam’s hottest development areas. It’s a little less family friendly, but a growing area. Further west and growing in popularity are KNSM Island and the Eastern Docklands.
“Cycling along the water to work is a daily joy. What a difference from the misery of London commuting!” – C.F., British, Amsterdam. This former working port established on four artificial island peninsulas is becoming home to locals and expats who enjoy their modern accommodation options with a twist of traditional Dutch streetscapes and buildings. According to Daas, “the area is a good bet, as it offers more space for your housing budget, while remaining easily accessible to central Amsterdam.”
Living on a boat
Of course, you can always consider living on a Dutch barge.
Amsterdam facts and links:
• Population: 844,952 as of January 2017 (www.os.amsterdam.nl)
• International residents: 50.6 percent
• International schools:
• Amsterdam International Community School: www.aics.espritscholen.nl
• Annexe du Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh: www.lyceevangogh.nl
• British School of Amsterdam: www.britams.nl
• International School Amsterdam (in Amstelveen): www.isa.nl
• The Japanese School of Amsterdam: www.jsa.nl
• Links: Expats Amsterdam, www.amsterdam.nl, www.iamsterdam.com (English site)
Where to live in Delft
Wedged between The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft is a beautiful historical town that attracts those seeking a quieter lifestyle with good city connections.
Delft is home to the famous Delft blue earthenware, the acclaimed Delft University of Technology, Johannes ‘Girl-with-a-pearl-earring’ Vermeer, and a beautiful old church full of dead royals.
Located in the province of South Holland in between the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft with a population of around 100,000 inhabitants is proving to be a popular option for people wanting a more tranquil lifestyle with easy access to the larger cities in the area. It is particularly popular with young families seeking a quieter, safer and more spacious home environment, and the area is surrounded by nature.
Delft is more than 750 years old and has historically been linked to the Dutch royal family. In 1584 William of Orange was shot and killed in Het Prinsenhof.
Now a museum, the bullet holes can still be seen although over the years they have more than tripled in size because of all the visitors who felt the need to stick their fingers in them. William, like most of the royal family, lies buried in the crypt of the Nieuwe Kerk which stands majestically in the heart of Delft’s historic city centre.
Known worldwide for its Delftware, Delft is a favourite with day trippers and tourists who come by the bus loads to admire and buy the ceramics.
These days most of the blue and white that is for sale isn’t actually Delftware but cheap reproductions made overseas. If you are seeking the real thing, head to one of the two remaining factories that produce authentic Delftware: the Porceleyne Fles and the Delftse Pauw.
Culture, food and taking the train home
Delft is in essence a miniature version of Amsterdam. There are the same pretty canals and stately canal houses. Museums like the new Science Centre, the Tobacco Museum, Prinsenhof Museum and the Army Museum provide interesting outings for rainy days.
There is an abundance of bars and cafes, a few cinemas, and even the odd coffee shop. This is after all a college town, yet if Delft’s nightlife seems a little quieter than you desire, The Hague, Rotterdam and even Amsterdam are only a relatively short train ride away.
In fact transportation links in Delft are excellent. There is a tram line that connects the city to The Hague and the seaside town of Scheveningen and there are regular trains to and from the cities that surround Delft (The Hague is just 5 minutes by train, Rotterdam 15 minutes, Amsterdam 50 minutes). Delft has numerous recommended restaurants including the Micheli-starred ‘Aan de Zweth‘ in Zweth. Less upmarket, yet very popular with both locals and tourists due to its delicious homemade apple tart is Kobus Kuch situated on the Beestenmarkt.
Where to live in Delft
Delft’s inner city resembles Amsterdam’s swanky canals when it comes to the architecture and to real estate prices. A house on the Oude Delft, the equivalent of the Keizersgracht, can run in the millions and even the smaller, former working-class houses in the narrow streets of Delft’s historic city centre can cost anything from €300,000 and up. The university and the accessibility to larger Dutch cities places a greater demand on housing in Delft. Despite the high prices, the areas of Hof van Delft and the Westerkwartier remain popular with property buyers.
Young families and middle-income earners often prefer to live in the southern suburb of Tanthof. This residential area built in the 1970’s is a family neighbourhood with schools and services geared toward young families. More than 80% of residents are of Dutch origin.
Hof van Delft
Similar to Tanthof, this area is inhabited predominantly by young dutch families in single-family homes built before 1940. Location has the benefit of being walking distance to the railway station and central shopping area.
To the north of the centre is Vrijenban, a green district which borders the recreation area of Delftse Hout. This is an older district, with more than 40% of homes more than 70 years old. More diversity in the ages and cultural backgrounds of residents than in Tanthof. Tram service and easy access to motorway.
Mainly high-rise rental flats in this spacious suburb. Colourful and diverse area due to cultural mix of local population. More than a third of the inhabitants are under 25.
Similar to Buitenhof and with the population density twice the Delft average due to the proliferation of flats and high-rise buildings.
Recommended options further afield are the small towns of Pijnacker, Delfgauw and Nootdorp. Collectively these towns are in a beautiful green municipality with just over 50,000 inhabitants, with an average 17% of foreign residents. Nootdorp has a local tram service and is connected to The Hague by train and bus. You can read more at www.pijnacker-nootdorp.nl.
Delft facts and links
• Population: 98,679 (en.db-city.com)
• International Schools: International School Delft
• Delft Gementee Website in english: www.delft.nl
• History of Delft: www.hollandhistory.net
Living in Eindhoven: Where to live and housing in Eindhoven for expats
Eindhoven was dubbed the smartest in the world in recent years but also has loads of cultural, sporting, shopping and housing appeal for expats living in Eindhoven.
Well connected and close to many hi-tech multinationals, Eindhoven has a selective business and design expat community, explains housing specialist Stoit Group.
Living in Eindhoven
Philips and Eindhoven go hand-in-hand but the city and surrounds have a lot more to offer, as many expats have already discovered. The region accounts for around half of the country’s R&D (research and development) investment and is officially known as ‘Brainport’.
Aimed to be among the top 10 regions by 2020 in terms of technology and economy, this southeast area is a hub for start-up companies and employment opportunities. The creation of the collaborative Brainport Talent Centre (www.talentbox.nl) helps place skilled workers in international companies. Eindhoven is well connected with the railway station close to the centre and the airport 3km away has good international access and serviced by low-cost airlines.
Expats in Eindhoven
Today, thanks to hi-tech and multinational employers, there’s a large community of expats in Eindhoven. Eindhoven also has a world-class Technical University and the Design Academy Eindhoven which attract many international students.
There’s vibrant nightlife along Stratumseind – the Netherland’s longest café and bar strip – but also strong links to the nearby countryside and extensive sporting facilities. Phillips has sinced moved several operations to Amsterdam. The renovation of the former Philips terrain, Strijp-S, is adding an extra dimension of cultural, residential and commercial facilities to the city.
Housing in Eindhoven
Until the arrival of Dr Philips in 1891, Eindhoven was not much more than a collection of villages. Because of 19th-century urban planning decisions, there are no canals, and pre-1940 architecture was destroyed by wartime bombing. But over the years things have changed immensely and for the better.
The centre of Eindhoven is popular especially for people seeking apartment housing in Eindhoven. Many expat families choose to live in the villages that surround this industrial city, where housing tends to be larger and with more green space. Access to Eindhoven centre is easy through a good road system, and the area is well connected to other cities via train and plane, so looking at housing surrounding Eindhoven is a viable option.
Where to live in Eindhoven
Living in Eindhoven Centre
People living in the centre have plenty of facilities, including a shopping mall and scores of international restaurants. Accommodation is mainly in new, pricey apartments, which are popular with single expats and couples without children. International schools (attended by children from Den Bosch and Tilburg) and the PSV football stadium are also located here.
North Eindhoven (Woensel)
The area north of the centre is divided by wide, tree-lined boulevards, and is mainly residential in nature. Housing is mostly newbuild with apartments and terraced houses for all budgets. Woensel South is cheaper and there’s a great market for ethnic shopping.
Situated around the Karpendonkse Lake and Eckart Forest, the area has a range of housing including some exclusive detached properties.
The Philips High-Tech Campus is situated at Gestel along with the International Primary School, the Open-air Museum and the Tongelreep International Swimming Complex. Expats also gravitate towards Stratum, with its wide range of modestly priced to exclusive housing.
Eindhoven real estate in surrounding villages
The villages closely surrounding Eindhoven’s centre are popular with expat families. Some international schools in the Netherlands are still within cycling distance and the sense of community is greater.
Nuenen was home to Vincent van Gogh (1883–1885) and the older centre stretches around a leafy village green. There’s some detached housing; outer areas are newer and mid-priced.
Veldhoven is virtually a southwest suburb (the other side of the A2 from Eindhoven). Housing is modern and in a range of price bands.
Best is a contemporary, well-planned village with good access, while more rural retreats can be found in Waalre, which is surrounded by large areas of forest. The twin towns of Son and Breugel are usually mentioned in a single breath, and popular with expats. Son has a pleasant old centre but the majority of housing is located in newer, greener (and more expensive) districts.
Eindhoven population and links
• Eindhoven population: 221,402 (eindhoven.buurtmonitor.nl) (The region has some 745,000 inhabitants.)
• International Eindhoven population: 29.5 percent
• Link: www.eindhoven.nl
• International schools: International School Eindhoven, www.isecampus.nl.
• 7,100: the amount of students enrolled at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
• 1982: the year the archaeological open-air Eindhoven Museum was created focusing on relics found in the country from the Iron Age and Middle Ages.
• 1,000: the square metres of the Parktheater stage in Eindhoven, one of the largest stages in the country for music and performing arts.
• 33.3: the highest percentage of public green area in the country is in Eindhoven.
• 26: the date in February 2017 when the traditional Dutch Carnival celebrations take over the city.
• 2011: the year Eindhoven was dubbed the smartest city in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) in New York, meaning the region makes best use of ICT and broadband internet.
• 2013: the year Forbes named Eindhoven the world’s most inventive city (based on patents issued).
Get an idea about the Eindhoven tourism from the tourism board‘s promotional video on Eindoven.
Where to live in Leiden
Set in the heart of the Randstad, Leiden is a picturesque college town that in many ways is the cultural and intellectual epicentre of the region.
Leiden is home to the oldest university in the country, as well as many museums and a multitude of bars, cafes and restaurants. On top of that the city can boast great public transportation services. Below, Tweel Wonen gives a tour of the town.
From Leiden Central station, which is a mere 10 minutes walk from the city centre, trains will take you to Amsterdam in just over half an hour, and both Schiphol airport and The Hague in just 15 minutes.
Leiden: University town
Leiden is a small city with around 124,000 inhabitants. Some 20,000 of them are students or staff associated with the University of Leiden, the oldest university in the Netherlands. Founded on 8 February 1575, the University was a gift by Prince William of Orange to the city of Leiden and its inhabitants for the courage they displayed during the one year siege by the Spanish occupiers. The occupation ended on 3 October 1574, which is therefore an important date in Leiden’s history. The city still celebrates Leiden’s Ontzet every 3 October with parades, a fair and the traditional food of hutspot, herring and white bread.
Leiden University offers a multitude of programmes and courses in English, as well as Dutch courses for foreigners which have a reputation for their efficacy. Rather than having a single campus, university buildings and sorority and fraternity houses are scattered all over the city centre.
Besides the University of Leiden, The city also houses a campus of Webster University, which attracts mainly foreign students and gives Leiden an international flair.
Culture aficionados will have a field day in Leiden. The city has no less than 15 museums. Of particular interest are the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden (the main archaeological museum in the Netherlands). Museum De Lakenhal exhibits paintings from famed Leiden painters including Rembrandt van Rijn, who was born and raised in the city.
One of the city’s smallest museums is the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. It basically consists of one room with some artifacts but the lack of visual stimuli is compensated by the wonderful stories museum owner Dr Jeremy Bangs tells about the Pilgrims who lived in Leiden before setting sail to America on the Mayflower in 1609.
Shopping in Leiden
Leiden is also great for shopping. The city’s main shopping streets are the Breestraat and Haarlemmerstraat, but the really interesting shops can be found off the main roads, in the narrow pedestrian areas of the Pieterskwartier. The city is home to a large number of antiques stores and on Wednesdays and Saturdays the city’s shopping area is transformed into a massive outdoor market that offers a variety of fresh goods.
Housing in Leiden
Leiden has a charming, historic centre with narrow, gabled streets and beautiful canals. By far the most attractive (and expensive) area to live in Leiden is the historic city centre. Highly desired are large old homes on the Rapenburg and, further south, in the Professorenwijk and Burgemeesterswijk. Unfortunately, house prices reflect the popularity of these areas. Most houses in the latter areas were buit between the 1920s and 1950s and have the corresponding characteristic details.
A little further afield and only 15 minutes by bike from the Centre, are the newer neighbourhoods of De Merenwijk and Stevenshof. These areas are fully equipped with schools, playgrounds, shops and all necessary amenities. These neighbourhoods are newer: houses in Merenwijk were built in the 1970s, those in Stevenshof in the 1980s. These are true Dutch suburbs with larger gardens.
Also popular with families and with a better space-to-price ratio, are the outlying suburbs of Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, Oegstgeest and the areas close to Leidse Hout to the north of Leiden.
Leiden facts and links
• Expat population: 11,000
• International schools: Leiden International Primary School at Elckerlyc Montessori in Leiderdorp and International Secondary Dept. at Het Rijnlands Lyceum in Oegstgeest
• Links for expats: Leiden Expat Center, www.homeinleiden.nl, and the English-language section of the Leiden portal.
Where to live in Utrecht
Utrecht is one of the most attractive places to live in the Netherlands, offering big city amenities, a medieval centre and proximity to the Dutch countryside.
Located in the heart of the Netherlands, Utrecht is well connected to both big city amenities and lush Dutch countryside. The city and its environs remain one of the most beautiful places to live in the country. Utrecht attracts expats and foreign companies with high living standards and an educated workforce in a laidback university town.
Arriving in Utrecht by train, you emerge into the country’s largest shopping mall, but don’t let that put you off. Utrecht’s medieval centre is a delightful place to live, with its unusual sunken canals and cellar bars. “A pleasant mix of urban excitement and small-town charm,” according to local convention centre Jaarbeurs. The vibe gets particularly lively at night due to the huge (70,500) student population.
Utrecht is undergoing the fastest development rate in its history, focused on transforming into a regional capital of European importance, complete with a bursting cultural agenda. It attracts international companies and expats alike, having the Netherland’s most highly educated workforce and second-best standard of living. The municipality offers expats information in English (www.utrecht.nl).
However, house-hunting here can be even harder than in Amsterdam. To deal with the shortage, the city is in the midst of expansion projects such as in Leidsche Rijn, and around the railway station to the west. The Station Area will form a natural extension of the central district, bringing together the areas to the east and west of the railway tracks. Its cultural charm will not be lost, however, as no changes will be made to the historic city centre.
Transport links are excellent, particularly by train, as Utrecht is HQ for NS (Dutch National Railways) and Utrecht Centraal is the biggest and busiest train station in the Netherlands. It is an easy commute to Amsterdam (25 minutes by train) and the service is regular (five trains an hour). he centre is prime territory, particularly the museum quarter and Wilhelminapark with its well-maintained 1930s houses.
Where to live in Utrecht
Twenty minutes down the motorway is the popular suburb of IJsselstein, complete with a car-free medieval city centre and castle (now a museum). There are fast train connections to Utrecht and Nieuwegein, and good cultural amenities. Nature lovers can enjoy the green heart of the Netherlands with bike trails through scenic countryside and along the river Lek.
New housing was completed in 2012, and zoning has been approved for more. The centre is expected to get new retail and housing stock by 2016.
Officially part of the city of Utrecht, Leidsche Rijn consists of the two small villages of Vleuten and Meern and includes the entire agricultural area between those villages and Utrecht itself.
Considered the largest new development in the Netherlands, some 30,000 houses and new space for industry and companies are being built in Leidsche Rijn. In effect, this means that a medium-sized town, which will house 100,000 people, is being built out of nothing. Great effort is being made to create an environmentally friendly town with high quality housing. An underground motorway is the pride of the project. Additionally, there will be a new hospital, schools, churches, shopping facilities, a train station and separate bus lanes throughout the area leading straight to the heart of Utrecht. Keep in mind that most of the facilities won’t be built for another few years (around 2025) but you can also do your shopping in the villages of either Vleuten or De Meern.
Lying 7 km south of Utrecht, Nieuwegein was a new town created in 1971 to cope with the expanding population of Utrecht. There are a variety of housing styles from classic Dutch brick homes to modern high-rises, and if you need to drive to work, easy access to nearby motorways (A2, A12 and A27). To the east is Houten, a fast-developing town, where some third of its population is under 20.
Many houses are surrounded by parks, lakes and nature. Most people go to Utrecht for entertainment, making Nieuwegein residential and also ideal for those with young families. New international companies continue to build in the newer industrial park where you can even rent storage space.
This beautiful area is north west of Utrecht and close to the Loosdrechtse Plassen lakes. Popular with young families and retirees, Breukelen and Maarssen are connected to Utrecht by local rail and bus services. Older villages include Oud-Zuilen (built around a castle) and Maarssen-Dorp. Maarssenbroek contains newer housing estates with local amenities and services in place.
Utrecht facts and links
• Population: 330,772 (utrecht.buurtmonitor.nl) (1.25 million in the whole region.)
• International residents: 32.3 percent
• International schools: IS Utrecht, www.isutrecht.nl
• Links: www.expatdeskutrecht.nl; www.investinutrecht.com; www.iwcu.nl.
This video from Utrecht’s tourism office gives insight into Utrecht.