Expat Exchange

The Hague, The Netherlands

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 05, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in The Hague, Netherlands: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

What do I need to know about living in The Hague?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to The Hague, they said:

"With its international flavor and resources supporting expats, The Hague is what I think is a relatively easy city in which to find your way. It's also an easy starting place to travel throughout the Netherlands and a great place from which to visit other countries," explained one expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

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What do I need to know before moving to The Hague?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to The Hague, they said:

"Think long and hard about how you would live your life, what kind of life you really want. I chose to transition from working outside the home (US) to working at home (writer), so we wanted an urban, Dutch lifestyle. I actually enjoy wandering up to the shopping street to buy my daily groceries and run errands in the late afternoon. We use public transportation for everything except my picking up the kids from school (20 min. away) 3 days a week when they're in the middle of sports and activities (as they're in high school and have tons of homework). My husband walks to/from work, and we're able to eat meals as a family. My friends who live in the 'expat enclave' near the school 1) have no Dutch friends, 2) don't really speak any Dutch and 3) their husbands are 'ghosts' in their families - never around due to long commutes," added another expat in The Hague.

How do I find a place to live in The Hague?

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We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We were fortunate in that my husband was here 6 months ahead of the family. He used that time wisely visiting neighborhoods and nearby towns to get the 'vibe'. He also spoke with anyone and everyone - where did they live, did they like it, did they wish they lived elsewhere, what did they wish they'd done differently. Through this we made the tough decision that we wanted an urban, Dutch experience, not 'expat suburbia' as if we were counting the days until we left. Then we honed in on the best neighborhoods within easy walk/commute, and went for best layout on a quiet street near (but not too near) good shopping and public transportation. We used a rental agency but we'd done the tough work," added another expat who made the move to The Hague.

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in The Hague?

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"We rent a 'rijtjeshuie' which is basically a 3-story brick 'town house' on a quiet street in a relatively upscale neighborhood, near a popular shopping street that is a great mix of everyday requirements (good grocery store, hardware stores, drug stores, great specialty stores and also fun boutiques and upscale stuff to window shop). It's fairly typical in this part of Den Haag/The Hague, although probably a bit on the bigger side than some," remarked another expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

What is the average cost of housing in The Hague?

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If you are thinking about moving to The Hague, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Factoring in space/square footage, probably a little less. Depends on what you came from and where you settle here. It isn't cheap," explained one expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

How do I meet people in The Hague?

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When we asked people living in The Hague about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"I'd start with ACCESS (access-nl.org) and The Hague Online (thehagueonline.com), and go from there," said another expat in The Hague.

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What should I bring when moving to The Hague?

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People living in The Hague were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"We downsized and generally packed well, but I'd say we should have brought more jeans, running shoes, voetbal cleats. (Items are much more expensive here and there is less selection.) Left at home? More of the 'stuff' that may fit in American closets (but you really don't use). I continue to weed out clothes that are too big/small/never worn. We find that we like to update our photos/paintings and artwork based on our travels, so we need to downsize some of that. (Tom Frost at Expat Alley wrote a great post about living with less because you outgrow your stuff and have new experiences.) I thought I was being ruthless but I need to be more so as closet/storage space (especially the hanging kind) is at a premium," added another expat who made the move to The Hague.

Will I be able to find a job in The Hague?

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When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in The Hague, they reponded:

"As previously mentioned, many people work for international organizations and businesses, the Dutch government, or foreign embassies," remarked another expat who made the move to The Hague.

What is life like in The Hague?

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When we asked people living in The Hague what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"The Hague is the seat of government for the Netherlands. So in addition to the Queen, Ministries and Dutch Parliament, it is home to foreign embassies and a host of international organizations (many UN) as well as international businesses. I think of it as a capital city with a small town feel. Lots of greenery and park land, with beautiful dune beaches along the North Sea. Plenty to do, with fewer tourists than in Amsterdam," remarked another expat who made the move to The Hague.

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What do expats in The Hague appreciate most about the local culture?

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"I like the whole idea of bike riding. The transportation is very quick and easy. I like most drinking tea or coffee somewhere outside when it is sunny. And people are sunny and with t-shirts even if it is +16, but it is sunny. Like there getting around when by very unimportant reason. Or how they sing in the pubs their funny dutch songs with holding drinks in one hand and trying to dance with another. Yeah! They are fun loving people in whatever age. That's what I like in them," commented one expat who made the move to The Hague.

"Family oriented, big emphasis on being outdoors and active, a simpler pace in life. It's a beautiful country with much to see and experience, despite being small. Lots to do culturally as the Dutch appreciate music, the arts, theater and concerts/festivals. Love the beaches, and the long daylight in the summer months," remarked another expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"Most challenging thing is that you have to wait for two or three or four weeks until you finally get something. When you want to make an appintment wait one week, you want to order something wait one month...maybe I am too exaggerate things, but for me it seemed sooo long," added another expat who made the move to The Hague.

"Getting used to the greater darkness during the winter months (being so far north). I don't love the rain or wind howling in off the North Sea, but you get used to it, and it's really not as bad as people make it out to be. Culturally, the Dutch can seem a bit curt, abrupt, and also love to poke fun at others, teasing beyond the bounds some cultures are used to. When you understand it's their culture and not personal, you move past it," explained one expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in The Hague accepting of differences?

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"The Hague is quite diverse on all levels, with lots of expats. It seems to be more accepting of differences than some places outside the Randstad (the area in which Amersterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam are located)," added another expat who made the move to The Hague.

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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance in Netherlands

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What are the schools in The Hague like?

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"Date: April 2017 Every school has issues and so has ISH. The school is big and growing; Secondary currently has 8 classes per year group. Having said that, my children feel at home at ISH. I am impressed with the way the school has responded to issues I raised. Their response was professional, efficient and personal. I can only recommend this school. Just make sure to sign up in time, the waiting-list can be long," said another expat in The Hague with children at International School of The Hague (ISH).

"Seriously consider all other alternatives. Send you kids to the American School if you can afford it," remarked another parent with kids at International School of The Hague in The Hague.

"I will just write about my experience with the primary school; you can refer to the other reports on this web site if you are interested in the secondary school. I regret very much putting my child in the International School. The communication with parents is awful: you do not know what records are being placed in your child’s file, measures that affect your child are being implemented without informing you, measures are implemented even after your specific disapproval, etc. If you dare to raise questions to the school administration about their policies and/or practices, you are likely to get a very disrespectful treatment and a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude. The current principal (Mr. Kevin Rae) has mastered this attitude to a point that borders insanity. Luckily, he is leaving in August 2015 and many parents are hopeful that things will improve afterwards. I have some doubts about this. The problem is that most of the staff consists of temps and part-times. This is clearly reflected in their work motivation. There are some motivated and skilled teachers, but these seem to be the minority. I do not expect that this situation will change much with the new principal. The bottom line is that I will be taking my child out of this school once the school year is over. My advice to other parents is: i) If you do not have financial concerns, go for the American School (take a look at the great reviews they have at this web site) ii) If money is a concern, consider the European School. Unfortunately, unless you work for a European organization, they have a long waiting line. iii) Judging by the experience of my friends, I would not put my child in the British School: they seem to have some of the same issues as the International School," explained one expat living in The Hague, Netherlands.

"The primary is fantastic, you're lucky if your child gets in (huge waiting list) The secondary is a big international school (70 nationalities, with mainly European, only a few Dutch, teachers) which suffered from the transition of IGCSE's to MYP, but has improved over the last year. There is a rich atmosphere & a lot of dedicated teachers. The communication between the staff & parents could still be improved though, as now you need to be on top of things yourself. This also has to do with the MYP-system which is kind of difficult to get the hang of, but is taught all over the world. IB results have been above average for years," said another parent with children at International school of The Hague in The Hague.

"For primary school no issues but secondary school I would think twice and try to obtain more feedback about the current situation. The atmosphere between teaching staff and students is defintely one of no trust with no respect for each other. There are a lot of organisational issues within the school with respect to attracting staff, communication, proper planning of class schedules and interaction with students. The teaching staff is made up of probably more than 70% part timers, which put pressure on scheduling and communication within the school. Quite a few students have left ISH and opted for RISS in Rotterdam, which appearantly has a much better atmosphere and program. The MYP program offered at ISH is also a farce as, in Holland , MYP is not a recognised program, therefor if a student fails IB in ISH , all he will get is a diploma equivalent to the lowest form of secondary eduction (VMBO). There has been very little openess from the school with regard to options available to children in Holland should they fail the IB program or do not get admitted to the IB program. If you do have long term plans in Holland and you do question your childs academic abilities (there is no stimulance provided by ISH to perform), then IGCSE's is probabably a better option for your child as at least your get certificates with which you still can go to college. We have been in Holland for 3 years and sincerely regret having choosen ISH as school for our children during that time," commented one expat when asked about International School of The Hague in The Hague.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Expats The HagueExpats in The Hague

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in The Hague.

Netherlands Index The Hague Index
An index of all of our site's The Hague information.

Netherlands Forum Netherlands Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Netherlands on our Netherlands forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Netherlands Network Contribute
Help others in Netherlands by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Netherlands.

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Expats in Netherlands offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Netherlands.

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