Are you planning to move to The Hague? What is it like to live in the Netherlands?
In this Expat Interview, Min shares her experience and practical tips for newcomers.
You’ll learn useful information to prepare for your new life in The Hague, such as the cost of living in The Hague, how to find apartments and jobs, and other practical tips.
What is it like to live in The Hague?
I moved to The Hague (Dutch: Den Haag), The Netherlands, at the end of 2016.
The Hague is known for its international community, so I moved there.
The Hague is the capital of the Netherlands, so many expats live in this city.
Many lovely shops and restaurants are in the area and offer their service in English. You can find quite a lot of English communities here.
There are also beautiful parks like Haagse Bos, Paleistuin, etc. I love to picnic there or cycle around the area in summer.
If you like art, you can explore the masterpieces at Escher in Het Paleis and Mauritshuis.
In addition, it’s easy to commute to other big cities like Amsterdam, Leiden, and Rotterdam.
Overall, I love living in The Hague. You can do many fun things after work but are less busy than in Amsterdam.
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How to prepare for moving to The Hague?
Moving to The Netherlands is easier if you are an EU passport holder; if not, you must get a work permit visa from your employer.
Another way is to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree here in the Netherlands, and hopefully, you will find a job with a visa sponsorship.
I am originally from Taiwan, and I knew moving here would take a lot of work.
Therefore, I first studied at the University of Amsterdam for my Master’s Program, then found a job that offered a work visa.
After five years, I got permanent residence once I passed the integration exam.
Once you move to the Netherlands, register at the city hall to get your BSN (Dutch: burgerservicenummer; English: Citizen Service Number). With BSN, you can legally work.
Another important thing is to have health insurance. In the Netherlands, all residents are required to have basic health insurance.
The best tool to find the best policy is Independer.nl. The website compares all the insurance policies so you can pick the best one for yourself. Then, you can register at a GP around your neighborhood.
Practical information for living in The Hague
112 is the emergency number for the Netherlands. If you are sick, the first point of contact is the GP unless you are in an emergency.
Ziggo/Vodafone and KPN are some of the Netherlands’ biggest phone and internet providers.
Albert Heijn is the biggest supermarket in the Netherlands; you can find them everywhere in The Hague.
If you are looking for good quality bread, I highly recommend Bartine Bakery and Market; they have delicious bread.
The Hague shopping center is on Grote Marktstraat; you can find everything there. If you are looking for furniture, visit the Den Haag HS train station area.
The cost of living in The Hague
|Rental price (one-bedroom flat)
|From EUR 1,000
|Around EUR 200 (all utilities, water)
|Prepaid cell phone plan
|EUR 250 monthly train ticket to Schiphol for work
|Average meal/ person
|Cook yourself EUR 4. Dine at a restaurant from EUR 20.
|Starting from EUR 20
What salary do you need to live in The Hague?
For a comfortable life, including dining at a restaurant and going out sometimes, you need at least 3.000 Euros for one person.
Where to live in The Hague? – The best areas to stay
Zeeheldenkwartier is the best area to stay in The Hague. It is a quiet area with a shopping street with quality restaurants, bakeries, and shops nearby. In addition, it is only a 10-minute walk to the city center.
Scheveningen is also an excellent area, right next to the beach. It’s nice to talk around in Spring and Summer. Scheveningen is a perfect location for people with cars since it’s about 15 minutes by tram to The Hague city center.
How to find apartments in The Hague?
Finding reasonable accommodation in big cities in the Netherlands is very competitive.
If you wish to have your accommodation ready before arrival, contact housing agencies first since they will actively look for an apartment for you.
Otherwise, it would help if you have a short-stay place first and actively look for apartments after work.
Transportation in The Hague
Transportation in The Hague is perfect.
Trams, buses, and the metro can take you anywhere around the city. If you love cycling, a bike is your best friend in The Hague since it is free and convenient to go around the city.
Unless you live far from the city center, it is optional to have a car since the parking fee is costly, I am afraid.
Weather in The Hague
The weather is very Dutch – it often rains in Spring, Autumn, and Winter, but not heavy rains.
Summer is around 20 to 25 degrees, but it can be hot, about 35 degrees, for around a week or two weeks, in recent years in summer.
It doesn’t snow much nowadays, only around 2 cm of snow each time, but the temperature is about 0 to 5 degrees in Winter.
Good and bad things about living in The Hague
The Hague is an international city, and you can find many English-speaking communities here.
People here are willing to speak English if you need help at restaurants or shops. The main reason why I like living in The Hague the most.
I only dislike the high living cost since it is a big city.
What are the best things to do in The Hague?
The Hague has quite a lot of natural areas to explore.
When the weather is nice, you can walk around the Scheveningen Beach Arena, Clingendael Park, and the Kijkduin area to refresh your mind after work.
If you like art, you can visit world-famous museums, like Escher in Het Paleis, Panorama Mesdag, and Mauritshuis. There are more than 20 museums in the city.
Did you experience any difficulties when you first moved to The Hague?
I moved from Amsterdam to The Hague; it was initially quite tricky since all my friends were in Amsterdam. It was challenging since I didn’t know anyone here.
I joined some meetup groups and church events in English and started to make new friends in the area. It helped since I had some support from the community here.
Where to meet new people in The Hague?
You can easily find a religious support community here in The Hague since it is an international city.
Otherwise, you can join some Meetup groups or cultural programs to learn new knowledge and make friends simultaneously.
Where are your favorite cafes in The Hague?
Anne & Max: a cozy cafe and the price is very reasonable. I often enjoy brunch with my friends there.
Dudok Den Haag: They have the best Appeltaart (English: Dutch Apple Pie) in The Hague. They’ve more than 25 years in the business.
Where are your favorite restaurants and bars in The Hague?
Bartine: Offer great coffee and brunch, too. They have outdoor seating facing the beautiful street view. It’s nice to chat with friends while enjoying the local city vibe.
Little V: Vietnamese restaurant. They have great food and a pleasant atmosphere. I love their BBQ chicken and surprise menu.
Tips for finding a job in The Hague.
There are many English jobs in The Hague, especially if you are in the IT and Banking area.
The best way to find jobs is via LinkedIn or networking. Most of my friends find jobs via Linkedin and later have better jobs via networking.
What have you learned from living abroad?
It’s essential to be flexible and adapt to the local culture. After all, when we move to a new place, there are many new things we need to learn.
Another important thing is to stay positive. Sometimes I had bad experiences in the Netherlands, but I just forgot it quickly, and I would try to understand why it happened. If you keep these unhappy memories long, you won’t be happy.
It cannot be easy at first, but you will feel better and happier as time goes by.
I am Min, currently residing in the Netherlands for almost ten years. Believing “The world is my campus,” I moved from Taiwan to The Netherlands at 26.
The opinions expressed here by Expatolife columnists are their own, not those of Expatolife.