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Leiden, The Netherlands

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 02, 2023

Summary: People describe Leiden, Netherlands as a charming, historic city with a vibrant student population. Expats love the city's laid-back atmosphere, its proximity to Amsterdam, and its many cultural attractions. The weather in Leiden is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $2,000 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $1,000 per month, while a two bedroom apartment can cost up to $1,500 per month. The approximate population of Leiden is 120,000.

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What do I need to know about living in Leiden?

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

"Before retiring in Leiden, it is important to be aware of the cost of living, healthcare options, and taxation. Leiden is a city with a moderate-cost of living, and health insurance is required. It is advisable to understand the Dutch tax system, as the country has different tax regulations than other countries. It is wise to explore the variety of retirement options available in Leiden, such as housing and leisure activities. Additionally, understanding local transportation, language, and culture can make retirement easier," said another expat in Leiden.

"hmmm difficult. Actually nothing in tone of warning... just DO IT! It's a great place," added another person living in Leiden.

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What do I need to know before moving to Leiden?

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

"Leiden is a great city to live in with its charming canal-side buildings, lively university life and cultural heritage. Before moving to Leiden it’s important to know the city layout so you can find the best location to live. Knowing the transport systems, especially the train lines and tramway networks, is also important. Research into the different neighbourhoods will help you to select the best area for your lifestyle. Make sure to familiarise yourself with the rental laws, as the Dutch rental market is different from other countries. Another thing to consider is the cost of living, while Leiden is a relatively inexpensive city, prices can still vary between neighbourhoods and it is important to be aware of the differences. Finally, look into the healthcare options available, get a free insurance check from the healthcare authority or enquire at Dutch health insurance providers to find the best healthcare insurance plan for you and your budget," said another person in Leiden.

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How do I find a place to live in Leiden?

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

"When looking for a place to live in Leiden, it is important to consider your budget, location, and personal needs. Leiden has a wide range of housing options from private housing with landlords to student accommodations at universities. Depending on the type of accommodation you are looking for, you can search online, in expat resources, or consider postings on university or community bulletin boards. You can also reach out to local contacts or expats in the city to ask them for advice or referrals. Once you find a place you like, be sure to view the property and discuss your expectations with the landlord or property representative before signing a contract," replied an expat in Leiden.

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We've partnered with Homelike, to connect expats and newcomers with temporary accommodations in Netherlands. If you're moving to Netherlands, rent a short-term, furnished apartment or home for the first few months from Homelike and take your time figuring out the best place to live in Netherlands.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Leiden?

"Expat homes in Leiden typically range from comfortable apartments in the city center to beautiful houses with gardens on one of the many canals in the old part of the city. Some of the expat housing options available offer modern amenities and luxurious furnishings, while others provide a more traditional Dutch living experience. Leiden is famous for its historic architecture and tree-lined canals, so many of the apartments and houses on offer provide remarkable views and picturesque surroundings," replied an expat in Leiden.

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What is the average cost of housing in Leiden?

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

"The cost of housing in Leiden tends to vary depending on different factors such as the size, location and amenities of the property. Generally, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Leiden is around €800-950, while the monthly rent of a three-bedroom apartment may range from €1,000-1,350," added another person living in Leiden.

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We've partnered with Homelike, to connect expats and newcomers with temporary accommodations in Netherlands. If you're moving to Netherlands, rent a short-term, furnished apartment or home for the first few months from Homelike and take your time figuring out the best place to live in Netherlands.
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We've partnered with Homelike, to connect expats and newcomers with temporary accommodations in Netherlands. If you're moving to Netherlands, rent a short-term, furnished apartment or home for the first few months from Homelike and take your time figuring out the best place to live in Netherlands.
SEARCH RENTALS

How do I meet people in Leiden?

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

"Leiden is a bustling university town, so there are plenty of ways to meet people. You can start by exploring the university campus and attending events and seminars to meet like-minded people. You can also explore local bars and cafes, where you can find lots of lively people. If you are more in the mood for something quieter, there are plenty of parks and green areas in and around the city where you can relax and meet people. Additionally, there are regular weekly meet-ups for expats, young entrepreneurs and more, which can be great for finding friends and expanding your network. Last but not least, you can also join local clubs, sports teams and societies that share your interests, where you can meet other passionate people who share your hobbies," explained one expat.

"I never contacted any, I have built my social life slowly, friends from work, or that I've met in different situations," said another person in Leiden.

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What should I bring when moving to Leiden?

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

"When packing for a move to Leiden, consider packing clothing for the four seasons, rain gear, a sturdy umbrella, comfortable shoes, toiletries, and essentials for any hobbies or interests you pursue. Be sure to include any important documents, medication, and items of sentimental value. Electronics such as a laptop and phone charger are important to bring, as well as any necessary adapters. Don't forget to pack a few basic items for your kitchen, bathroom, and bedding that will make settling in easier. If you are able to move large items, don't forget furniture such as a bed, a couch, and any necessary appliances. You may also want to include dishes, glasses, cooking utensils, and kitchen linen. When travelling with your larger items, consider bringing items to help transport them, such as boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape," explained one expat living in Leiden.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Leiden?

We asked expats in Leiden what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"In Leiden, you can open a bank account at a variety of banks and financial institutions. Some of these include ING, Rabobank, ASN Bank, SNS Regio Bank, ABN Amro, and De Nederlandsche Bank. You can also open a “Dutch” bank account which will give you access to all Dutch payment methods and services. Opening a bank account generally requires proof of identity, residence paperwork, and other documents.You can also pay a visit to a local bank branch in Leiden to find out more details about setting up a bank account," added another person living in Leiden.

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Will I be able to find a job in Leiden?

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

"Yes, it is possible to find a job in Leiden. The city is home to many multinational companies, internationally orientated start-ups, and organisations that provide a wealth of job opportunities. There are also language jobs available such as teaching and translating. Additionally, various kinds of internship positions are available with companies ranging from small tech startups to large firms. Plus, the nearby city of The Hague also offers many job opportunities," remarked another in Leiden.

"There are a few large Pharmaceutical companies (European HQ) and Engineering companies and, of course, the University of Leiden and other smaller ones like Websters. A few miles away you have The Hague (HQ of Shell worldwide, KPN, loads of international org.), Rotterdam, and not so far is Amsterdam," explained one expat.

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What is life like in Leiden?

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

"Living as an expat in the area can be a positive and rewarding experience as it allows one to experience and learn a new culture, language, and way of life. The area has a vibrant social life and is home to an ever-growing expat population, meaning that it is often easy to find a support system and to quickly integrate with the local community. Access to healthcare and education, as well as a range of leisure and professional activities, are widely available. However, the cost of living can be high and a permit is often needed to work in the area, although this varies depending on the local economic RUMUN. Although there may be additional challenges associated with living abroad, the area also offers support and resources for those new to the region, as well as opportunities for those looking to start a business or develop a career in the area," said another expat in Leiden.

"Leiden is a students town, but also in between The Hague (centre of government) and Amsterdam (Capital) and not too far from Rotterdam (largest harbour in the world), therefore, it's quite a diverse city. You will find mostly everything you can think of, from sport clubs/associations, religious goups, classes in all forms of artistic expression (dancing, sculpture, painting, etc), loads of very interesting museums, and of course, a lively nightlife," added another person living in Leiden.

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What do expats in Leiden appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Leiden appreciate the strong sense of community and welcoming attitude of the locals, the proximity to nature and the quaintness of the city and its surroundings, the city's rich history, the many cultural activities and festivals, the variety of international restaurants, and the excellent student life opportunities available," explained one expat.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often face a range of challenges that can be both daunting and rewarding. These can include cultural adjustment and communication, coping with language barriers and settling into a new environment, building networks of support, and establishing a career in a different country. Additionally, navigating a new financial and legal system, learning unfamiliar customs, and dealing with homesickness can all be overwhelming experiences. Despite these challenges, the rewarding experiences can make the entire process worthwhile," remarked another in Leiden.

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Is there a lot of crime in Leiden?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Leiden does not experience significantly higher levels of crime when compared to other cities in the Netherlands. Reports of petty crime such as pick-pocketing and vandalism are not uncommon, though the overall crime rate is considered to be low. Public safety is generally very good, and Leiden is generally considered to be a safe place to live and visit," said another expat in Leiden.

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

"Leiden is a very diverse and welcoming city. Diversity is visible in the city's many cultures and is embraced by the diverse population. The people of Leiden are open to different cultures, ethnicities, religions, and beliefs. The city’s multiethnic makeup provides a platform for acceptance of differences and a community of mutual respect. Numerous cultural festivals, such as the Leiden International Film Festival, bring together all of the city’s many cultures and celebrate their differences," said another person in Leiden.

"Sure. I would guess mostly Dutch of course, with probably 10% or so of Western foreigners, a great part of them students, others professionals working for the large companies (Oil&Gas and Engineering mostly), and 8% or so of non-Western. As far as I can recall, there was never an incident caused by racial or religious descrimination," remarked another expat in Leiden.

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What are the schools in Leiden like?

"Leiden is home to some of the most prestigious universities and higher educational institutes in the Netherlands, such as Leiden University, founded in 1575 and the oldest university in the country, and the Leiden University Medical Center, which is one of the most renowned medical institutes in Europe. The Royal Academy of Art and the College of Applied Sciences are also prominent institutions in the city. Other institutions include the Aspirant Academy, the NIAS-KNAW Federation, the Yeronga European Studies Institute, and the Excellence in Education Institute. In addition, there are many private schools, some of which are bilingual, in the city," explained one expat living in Leiden, Netherlands.

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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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