Realistic guide to the cost of living in the Netherlands

Discover the cost of living in the Netherlands. Learn about average rental prices, groceries, public transport, going out, and money-saving tips.


7 minute read
Updated on 13 Jun 2024

Some pros of living in the Netherlands are its high quality of life, social benefits, and variety of job and study opportunities for expats. Yet, with a monthly cost of living of €2,044, the Netherlands is one of the more expensive European countries to live in.

So, to help you manage your living expenses, we’ve broken down the essential costs you’ll have in the Netherlands. Read on to learn about the average rent, groceries, and public transportation costs, and some money-saving tips.

Is it expensive to live in the Netherlands?

With the average cost of living being €2,044, living in the Netherlands can be expensive. However, you can easily cover your expenses with an average salary of €3,666 in the Netherlands. Even if you’re earning the minimum wage of €2,317, you can cover your living expenses, but you might need to budget a bit more.

The average cost of living in the Netherlands

The average cost of living in the Netherlands is around €2,044 per month for a single person. As this is an estimate, this amount can vary depending on your lifestyle, location, and specific needs. For example, your living costs in Rotterdam will be higher than in Maastricht.

The table below illustrates your main expenses while living in the Netherlands.

ExpenseAverage cost
Monthly public transport pass€120
Health insurance€150

Average rent in the Netherlands

You can expect average rent in the Netherlands between €551 (renting a room) and €1,036 (renting a 1 bedroom apartment). Your average rent can vary depending on the type of accommodation you’re renting. The table below shows a breakdown of the average rental prices in the Netherlands based on Kamernet’s rent report:

Private room€551
Apartment (1 bedroom)€1,036
Apartment (2+ bedrooms)€1,293

The city you’re living in also contributes to the price of your rent. According to Kamernet’s and HousingAnywhere’s international rent index, these are the average accommodation prices in the 4 biggest Dutch cities broken down by type:

CityPrivate roomStudioApartment
The Hague€773€1,202€1,532

Amsterdam is the most expensive city to live in the Netherlands, followed by Rotterdam and The Hague. Yet, these cities also have the highest salaries and the largest number of English-speaking jobs and study opportunities.

The Dutch rental market is highly competitive, especially in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. So, your best bet is to start your search 3 to 4 months before your move, as it takes time to find the perfect fit. When you’re looking for a place to live, always rely on trusted platforms like HousingAnywhere over Facebook groups to prevent rental scams.

You can apply for housing benefits (huurtoeslag) to get help in managing your rental costs. This governmental subsidy partially covers your rent to make it more affordable. Read our guide on housing allowance in the Netherlands to learn more about applications and requirements.

Service costs in the Netherlands

Your service costs should vary between €200 and €300 per month. These can include utilities, administration costs, waste, and sewage taxes. If you’re renting a furnished place, you’ll sometimes have to pay for some appliances, such as a washer and dryer.

Out of that amount, between €150 and €250 monthly will go for utilities only. Utilities in the Netherlands include gas, electricity, and water. Their costs vary depending on the size of the accommodation and the city, as Dutch service providers are city-based.

Cost of food in the Netherlands

You’ll need between €300 and €400 monthly to cover your food costs. Your expenses will vary depending on your diet and preferences. Overall, you can expect food costs like:

TypeAverage Cost
Plant-based milk€2.69
Eggs (12)€4
Cheese (1 kg)€9.23
Apples (1 kg)€3.19
Bananas (1 kg)€1.55
Chicken (300 g)€4.70
Beef (550 g)€8.79
Wine (0.75 l)€5.30
Beer (0.50 l)€1.45

Another factor influencing the cost of your groceries is where you shop. The costs above are based on the prices in the Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn, the Netherlands' biggest and most widely available grocery store. It’s also the most expensive one.

If you shop at other supermarkets, like Jumbo or Plus, your costs will be lower. But the cheapest supermarkets in the Netherlands are Lidl, Aldi and Dirk. You can also check out the local Turkish or Asian supermarkets, which often have lower prices and better food quality.

Transportation cost in the Netherlands

Biking is the cheapest way to get around the Netherlands. You can choose to buy or rent a bike. Buying a second-hand bike costs between €80 and €120. The best places to find second-hand bikes are Facebook Marketplace, BikeFair, or bike shops in your city. If you would rather rent a bike, the best option is Swapfiets. Their subscriptions range between €17 (normal bike) and €80 (e-bike) monthly.

The cost of public transport in the Netherlands depends on your city. On average, a one-way ticket costs €3.40. But there are many subscriptions you can get to lower the cost of transport. You’ll need to get separate subscriptions for national trains (NS) and your city’s public transport, as they’re operated by different companies.

There are 2 monthly train subscriptions: Vordeel, which gives you a discount, and Vrij, which allows you to travel for free. You can also choose if you want these subscriptions to be active during the week, on the weekends, or throughout the week. The best monthly train subscriptions for expats moving to the Netherlands are:

  • Dal Voordeel: costs €5.60 and gives you 40% off travel during off-peak hours, weekends, and holidays
  • Altijd Voordeel: costs €26.70 and is the same as the Dal Vordeel, but you also receive 20% off during rush hour
  • Dal Vrij: costs €119.95 and gives you free travel during off-peak hours, weekends, and holidays
  • Altijd Vrij: costs €353.80 and gives you free travel

Which is the cheapest way to get around in the Netherlands?

The cheapest way to travel in the Netherlands is by getting a public transport subscription. To save the most money, you’ll need a subscription from your local public transport provider, e.g., GVB in Amsterdam or RET in Rotterdam, and an NS subscription for trains.

Cost of health insurance in the Netherlands

Basic health insurance is mandatory for everyone living or working in the Netherlands. How much you pay depends on your coverage. If you take out a basic policy with added dental and travel insurance, you’ll pay €163.45 monthly.

Basic packages start at €130 and increase in price depending on the additional treatments you want to add, such as dental, contraceptives, alternative medicine, and physiotherapy.

Students must sign up for Dutch health insurance only if they work part-time. Otherwise, you can use your home insurance, such as the European health insurance card (EHIC), for students from the EU.

Health insurance is expensive in the Netherlands, which is why you can get healthcare benefits (zorgtoeslag). Depending on your income, you can be reimbursed up to 100% of your health insurance costs. Check out our guide to healthcare allowance in the Netherlands to learn how to apply and how much you can get back.

Cost of leisure in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the best countries for going out. You can dance at a club or a festival, try out a new bar, or eat at a Michelin-star restaurant. But, going out in the Netherlands can be expensive. The table below shows the average price of dining or drinking out:

TypeAverage Cost
Lunch at a bistro€15
3-course dinner for two€80
Fast food meal€11
Glass of wine€4.50
Domestic beer€3

The Netherlands has plenty to offer in terms of entertainment. You can visit museums, see tulips at Keukenhof, ride the rollercoasters at Efteling, or go to a concert, theatre, or cinema.

TypeAverage Cost
Cinema ticket€14
Museum ticket€20
Concert ticket€20 — €200
Efteling€47 — €51

How to save money in the Netherlands

While living in the Netherlands is expensive, there are plenty of ways to save money on your monthly expenses. We’ve compiled 13 ways to save money in the Netherlands.

  1. Get the supermarket discount card to collect points and rewards: you can download it on your phone through their apps.
  2. Get the AH overblijvers (remainers) boxes, which cost €5, and give you a box filled with groceries close to their expiry date.
  3. Download Toogoodtogo, which offers a similar service to AH overblijvers but also from bakeries, other supermarkets, and corner stores.
  4. Plan your meals around grocery store sales. There are weekly sales, so you wouldn’t struggle to build a good meal.
  5. Shop at Kruidvat, Action, Wibra, and Zeeman: they have affordable prices and weekly sales.
  6. Buy in bulk from and collect their points and rewards.
  7. Carry your student card with you everywhere because many places have student discounts.
  8. Buy your furniture second-hand from places like the Kringloop (second-hand) stores, Marktplaats, and Facebook Marketplace. Look around your neighborhood, too, as people often leave used furniture next to the trashcans because they’re moving.
  9. Get the Museumcard, which costs €75 annually and allows you to visit most Dutch museums for free. You even get discounts on some activities!
  10. Plan your monthly budget and keep track of it using a planner, a spreadsheet, or a money-saving app.
  11. Choose a SIM card provider that offers additional benefits. For example, Lebara gives you the first 6 months for free if you sign a 2-year contract.
  12. If you’re looking for a job, try applying to companies that cover your private public transport and business travel, like ABN AMBRO.
  13. Check out and, who compare prices of different items for you and tell you where you can buy them for the cheapest.

This article is for informational purposes only.

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