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Moving to the Netherlands from the UK

Ashleigh Williams

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

23rd May 2023 (Last updated on 8th Feb 2024) 11 minute read

The Netherlands is a fantastic country to consider moving to. The quality of life is high, and there is a good work/life balance. The atmosphere is friendly, welcoming and Dutch culture is great. It’s easy to see why 6,700 British immigrants moved to the Netherlands from the UK in 2019 as stated by CBS Statistics Netherlands.

While the UK has now left the EU, it’s still possible for British citizens to move to the Netherlands. The lower cost of living, fantastic healthcare system and laidback lifestyle are driving forces for many people looking to relocate.

In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know before booking your removals to the Netherlands.

  1. Why Are People Moving From the UK to the Netherlands?
  2. Types of Dutch Permits and Visas
  3. Dutch Citizenship
  4. How to Apply for a Dutch Visa
  5. Cost of Removals to the Netherlands From the UK
  6. Property Prices
  7. Work and Salary
  8. Cost of Living
  9. Education
  10. Healthcare
  11. Importing and Registering Vehicles
  12. Culture/Art
  13. Is it Worth Moving to the Netherlands From the UK?

Why Are People Moving From the UK to the Netherlands?

There are many reasons why people are choosing to move to the Netherlands, even with the added steps involved since the UK’s departure from the EU.

The cost of living in the Netherlands is lower than in the UK, especially when you compare the capital cities. According to Numbeo, consumer prices in London are 19.2% higher compared to Amsterdam.

The country focuses on employees having a positive work/life balance which can often be neglected in the UK. The Netherlands is a country known for having a lot of green space and being environmentally conscious. Bikes are a popular mode of transport and with the roads being so accessible by bike, this helps to save money on fuel and public transport costs.

Overall, the Netherlands offers a more relaxed lifestyle than the UK. Its healthcare system is reliable, public transport is more organised and the crime rate is lower.

Types of Dutch Permits and Visas

With the UK having left the EU, the process of applying for a Dutch permit and visa has changed. This is due to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

If you’re initially travelling and living in the Netherlands on a short-term basis, you won’t need to apply for a residence permit or visa granting that you stay in the Netherlands or another Schengen area for less than 90 days in any 180-day period.

From 2024, if you’re living in the Netherlands temporarily before moving permanently, you will need to have a European Travel and Authorisation Visa (ETIAS). This will cost £7 and is valid for 3 years.

Dutch Residency Permits

If you’re a British Citizen living in the Netherlands on a long-term basis, you will need to apply for a residence permit. These are issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Services (IND). There are several permits you can choose from depending on the reason why you’re moving. These permits include:

  • Family and Partner (Family Reunification)
  • Work
  • Study
  • Au Pair and Exchange
  • Long-term EU Residency

You will need to apply for your visa in good time before moving to ensure that your application has been accepted and completed before moving. Once obtained, the permit will be valid for up to 5 years.

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Dutch Citizenship

If you’re a UK citizen, there are two ways of gaining Dutch citizenship - the option procedure and naturalisation.

Option Procedure

You can potentially apply for Dutch citizenship through the option procedure. The process is straightforward and will take up to 3 months, but has stricter criteria to meet for British nationals.

Here are some of the criteria you need to be accepted:

  • Lived in the Netherlands from the age of 4
  • Have always had a residence permit
  • Are married to a Dutch national for more than 3 years

You will need to provide documents such as a valid passport, your birth certificate and your current and valid Dutch residence permit.

Naturalisation

If you aren’t eligible to apply for the option procedure, you can choose the naturalisation process. You will need to have a Dutch residence permit and meet some of the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Provide identity and nationality documents
  • Live in the Netherlands for at least 5 years
  • You have passed the civic integration exam

Naturalisation will typically take around a year to complete, but it can take up to two years.

It’s important to note that when you become a Dutch national through naturalisation, you will need to renounce your UK nationality. Dual citizenships are not permitted in the Netherlands.

For full information, visit the IND.NL website.

How to Apply for a Dutch Visa

In addition to obtaining a Dutch permit, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa 3 months before moving to the Netherlands. This is called an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV).

You can apply for an MVV through the Netherlands Embassy in London. You will need to book an appointment online and provide the relevant supporting documents including the MVV application form and your passport.

It will take up to 90 days for the application to be completed and for you to be approved. Some of the relevant documentation and information you will need includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Visa application form
  • Valid passport
  • Any relevant travel documentation
  • Passport photograph
  • Information of any previous visas
  • Work permit (if applicable)
  • Visa application fee
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Proof of income

Once you’ve moved to the Netherlands you will need to register with your local municipality. You will be given your own BSN (burgerservicenummer). This is a citizen service number that will be required for accessing healthcare and applying for various benefits.

You can use the Government of the Netherlands website to determine whether you will need a residence permit or visa.

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Cost of Removals to the Netherlands From the UK

Moving to the Netherlands is straightforward. Our international removal costs data shows that shipping to the Netherlands will cost roughly £1,248. If you require additional services such as packing, this will come at an extra cost. Packing costs an average of £250.

The cost of shipping to the Netherlands will differ based on the form of shipping used and the number of goods you’re moving.

Here at Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 of our verified international removal partners.

Property Prices

The average house price per square meter in Dutch city centres is €5,126.24 (£4459.88). Outside of the city centre average house prices are €3782.75 (£1951.98). In the UK, a house in a city centre will cost an average of £4,372.17 per square meter. Outside of the city centre, property prices are £3,260.10.

To rent in the Netherlands, it will cost around €974.33 (£846.95) for a 1-bedroom property and €1459.69 (£1268.85) for a 3-bedroom property. In the UK rental prices are around £702.06 for a 1-bedroom property and £1,208.08 for a 3-bedroom property.

Interestingly, it’s cheaper on average to live in the city centre in the UK. While there isn’t a significant difference in prices, it’s less expensive to live in the UK on average, compared to the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is currently suffering from a housing crisis that is affecting both purchasing and renting a property. House prices have increased significantly in the last few years according to The Guardian as a result. This increase in cost is worth keeping in mind before relocating.

*Data taken from Numbeo statistics

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Work and Salary

There are some differences when it comes to the most common areas of work in the Netherlands compared to the UK. However, the job sectors are not too dissimilar.

According to Prospects.ac.uk, the most popular jobs are in the following industries:

  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Agriculture
  • Engineering

In the UK, the 2021 Census data shows that the most popular jobs are:

  • Wholesale, retail and motor trade
  • Health and social work
  • Education
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

In the Netherlands, the average wage is €40,000 (£34,793.60). ThinkPlutus displays that the average salary in the UK is £25,971. As the wages are higher and the cost of living is lower, people moving to the Netherlands will benefit from this.

Cost of Living

The average cost of living in the Netherlands is 2% lower compared to the UK. While this is only a small difference, people moving to the Netherlands will still notice a difference in the amount of disposable income they will have.

Here is a comparison of the living costs for both countries:

Cost of Living ExamplesNetherlandsUnited Kingdom

Public transport pass (monthly)

€81.83 (£71.10)

£74.30

Utility bills (monthly - one person)

€126.60 (£110)

£116

Gym membership (monthly)

€32.34 (£28.10)

£31.90

Taxi (5 miles)

€22.79 (£19.80)

£13.70

Restaurant meal for 2 people

€59.50 (£51.70)

£49.80

1 cinema ticket

€11.50 (£9.99)

£9.75

Beer (0.5L)

€1.22 (£1.06)

£1.76

Chicken Breast (1kg)

€8.38 (£7.28)

£5.88

Cappuccino

€2.97 (£2.58)

£2.93

* Data taken from LivingCost.Org

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Education

The education system in the Netherlands is of high quality, as are their universities. Compulsory education is completed between the ages of 5-16, which differs slightly from the UK, where education typically begins at 4 years of age.

Primary education operates until the age of 12, children then attend. After this, pupils will carry out one of the following types of education:

  • VWO - University preparation education (6 years)
  • HAVO - Senior General Secondary Education (5 years)
  • VMBO - Preparatory Vocational Secondary Education (4 years)

The best schools in the Netherlands include Winford Bilingual Primary School and European School The Hague. Some Dutch primary schools offer bilingual learning, where pupils are taught both in English and Dutch. There are many international schools, such as The British School of Amsterdam and the International School of Amsterdam.

When it comes to higher education, there are 55 universities in the Netherlands in total, this includes state and privately-owned institutions. The education in Dutch universities is some of the best in Europe. The most successful universities include:

  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of Groningen
  • Utrecht University
  • Wageningen University and Research
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

In comparison, there are more than 160 universities in the UK, many of which are the best performing in the world. Some of the best universities include:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • King’s College London

Students will need to pay tuition fees in the Netherlands. According to Study.eu, it will cost around €15,000 (£13,042) a year. This is more expensive than fees in the UK, which are up to £9,250.

Healthcare

The Dutch healthcare system is one of the best in Europe. In the Netherlands, healthcare is run through a universal healthcare program. Healthcare isn’t free like it is in the UK, and everyone legally has to purchase basisverzekering (statutory basic healthcare insurance).

This health insurance covers basic things such as doctor's appointments and maternity care. This is covered by private insurers. After moving to the Netherlands, you are required to pay for medical insurance. It’s useful to note that many doctors are English-speaking.

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Importing and Registering Vehicles

On becoming a Dutch resident, you will no longer be able to drive your UK-registered vehicle in the Netherlands until it is registered in the country. RDW states that it will cost around 120 (£104.45) to register your vehicle and can take several weeks to complete.

Within 185 days of moving, you will need to exchange your UK driving license for a Dutch one to continue driving. To apply you will need to show the relevant documents, such as your driver’s license, residence permit, insurance documents and ID.

You will then be given a Dutch registration number to replace your existing UK one. You need to ensure you have valid car insurance, and motor vehicle tax along with an APK (Periodic Technical Inspection) before you can legally drive.

Culture/Art

The culture in the Netherlands is great. In general, everyone is very welcoming and friendly. While the Dutch are typically known for their directness, this is a positive thing. Dutch people are proud of their history and heritage, which is celebrated through Koningsdag (King’s Day).

Music is particularly popular in the country, with Holland being seen as one of the most successful places for Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Some notable DJ's include Armin Van Buuren, Hardwell, and Tiësto. Dutch folk music is also popular, with clogs being used to add percussion when dancing.

When it comes to the Dutch government, the laws are more relaxed in some instances compared to the UK. For example, the use of marijuana and prostitution are legal, whereas these are prohibited and restricted in the UK.

Art is a large part of Dutch culture, with many of the world’s famous artists hailing from the Netherlands. Artists to note include Vincent Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer, and Rembrandt. The best art galleries in the Netherlands include Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Museum Rembrandthuis.

While the Dutch culture is different to the UK, they are accommodating to expats. If you’re moving from the UK, it’s important to embrace Dutch culture and make an effort to learn and speak Dutch where possible.

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Is it Worth Moving to the Netherlands From the UK?

If you’re looking for a more laid-back way of living, the Netherlands can be a great place to live. In general, the cost of living is lower, though you may pay more for properties and rent in comparison to cheaper parts of the UK.

Here are some pros and cons of the Netherlands to consider before relocating:

Pros:

  • The country has a more laid-back way of living
  • The cost of living is slightly cheaper compared to the UK
  • There is a good work-life balance
  • English is commonly spoken across the country
  • The levels of education are high
  • There’s a big focus on using bikes and public transport systems
  • High-quality healthcare systems

Cons:

  • Car parking is expensive in the Netherlands, particularly in the cities
  • Healthcare isn’t free and is more expensive than in the UK
  • Tax is higher compared to the UK
  • Renting and purchasing property can be more difficult and expensive
  • Additional costs of shipping furniture overseas

All costs listed in this article are correct at the time of writing. Costs may vary slightly and this is just an estimated number.

Ashleigh Williams

Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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