A guide to budget your expenses in the Netherlands

A guide to budget your expenses in the Netherlands

A guide to budget your expenses in the Netherlands

Empower yourself with the knowledge to budget wisely and make the most of your experience in the Netherlands.

This article is your go-to source on how to manage expenses effectively. Is your pocket feeling the pinch lately? We'll show you how to set a budget that fits your expat lifestyle. 

Let's dive into the topics!

  • A closer look at living costs in the Netherlands

  • Calculate your groceries/food costs

  • Dutch supermarkets and their specifics

  • Research transportation costs in the Netherlands

  • Communicate with other expats in the Netherlands

  • Create a savings plan that works for you

A closer look at living costs in the Netherlands

If you are moving to the Netherlands, you should be aware of the cost of living there.

  • Rent for a small flat in the city center will likely be about €1,000-€1,500 per month. Outside the city, it'll be a bit cheaper at roughly €800-€1,200.

  • Utility bills could go from €300 to €500 a month depending on the usage. Nice to know that internet and mobile plans are quite affordable, with a typical monthly cost of around €50.

  • Your food bill can be a big part of your budget. A single person might spend around €200 a month on groceries. But, in certain cases, you could find fresh food at markets for less than at the supermarket.

  • Getting around is easy. Public transport is good and a monthly pass will cost about €90. If you prefer, you can get a decent bike for between €100 and €300.

  • Another cost to factor in is health insurance, which is not optional in the Netherlands. For basic coverage, you'll need to budget about €105 per month.

Remember, these are average costs and can vary based on where you live and your lifestyle. If any of these numbers seem high, remember that good budgeting can help you manage your costs. 

Calculate your groceries/food costs

Staying within a budget is important, but it can be difficult to determine just how much you will need to spend on groceries each month. By taking some time to plan ahead and estimate your expenses, you can ensure that you're never caught off guard by unexpected bills. With a bit of effort, you'll be able to accurately and confidently calculate your grocery costs, allowing you to stay on top of your monthly expenses and make the most of your budget.

Dutch supermarkets and their specifics

When it comes to grocery shopping in the Netherlands, there is a wide variety of supermarkets to choose from. Here's a rundown of some of the most popular ones:

  1. Albert Heijn: This is the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, known for its wide range of products, including many international foods. It's a bit more expensive than other supermarkets, but the quality of the products is generally high.

  2. Jumbo: Jumbo is a close competitor to Albert Heijn in terms of size and product range. They also focus on quality, but their prices tend to be somewhat lower.

  3. Lidl & Aldi: These are German discount supermarkets that have many branches in the Netherlands. They offer fewer brand products, focusing more on their own brands. Prices here are generally lower, making them a good choice for budget shoppers.

  4. Plus: This is a smaller supermarket chain, but it's known for having fresh and high-quality products. Plus stores are usually smaller and less crowded, providing a more relaxed shopping experience.

  5. Coop: Coop is a cooperative supermarket chain in the Netherlands. They focus on sustainability and offer a good selection of organic products.

  6. Dirk van den Broek: This supermarket chain is known for its low prices. They have a limited product range, but if you're budget-conscious, it's a great choice.

Remember, the choice of supermarket can significantly impact your grocery costs, so consider your budget and try to find a balance between cost and quality.

Research transportation costs in the Netherlands

Whether you prefer to bike along the charming streets of Amsterdam, hop on a train to explore the countryside, or take advantage of the extensive public transportation system, there's a mode of transportation fit for every budget. 

Here are the top possibilities for transportation and the costs that come with it:

  • Public transportation: The Dutch railway system, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), connects major cities and towns efficiently. Additionally, cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague have extensive tram and metro networks, making it easy to navigate urban areas. Buses serve both urban and rural areas, providing comprehensive coverage.

  • OV-chipkaart: The OV-Chipkaart is a smart card used for seamless access to various modes of public transportation. Commuters can load credit onto the card and simply check-in and check-out when using trains, trams, buses, and metros. Different types of subscriptions, including monthly or annual plans, are available for regular commuters, offering cost savings compared to individual ticket purchases.

A year subscription (monday to friday) at NS costs €119.95 and for just the weekend you pay €38.35.

  • Another subscription is the NS flex:  The NS Flex subscription by Nederlandse Spoorwegen offers a flexible and hassle-free way to use public transportation. Commuters can travel without the need for a prepaid balance, and the subscription automatically adjusts to the most cost-effective rate based on travel patterns.

  • Bicycle infrastructure: Cycling is a popular and environmentally friendly mode of transportation in the Netherlands. Cities are equipped with extensive cycling lanes, and many residents use bicycles for their daily commute. Subscriptions for bicycle sharing services are available, providing a convenient option for occasional riders.

There’s also a possibility to rent a bike at NS. There you pay €4.45 per 24 hours, and after 72 hours you pay an extra surtax of €5,- per day. 

  • Car sharing: Car-sharing services are gaining popularity, especially in urban areas. Various companies offer flexible and affordable options, allowing users to rent a car for short durations. These services often include subscriptions that provide additional benefits, such as reduced hourly rates or free parking.

The costs of sharing a car may vary depending on the size of the car and the amount of time you are driving with it. Prices mostly start at €2.50 per hour, with a small surtax per kilometer. 

  • Discount subscriptions: Various discount subscriptions cater to specific demographics, such as students and seniors, providing reduced fares for public transportation. These subscriptions make commuting more affordable for specific groups of people.

Communicate with other expats in the Netherlands

One great way to tackle challenges is by connecting with other expats who have already been through the process. Collaborating with other newcomers can provide valuable insights, tips, and tricks that can help you make the most of your experience in the Netherlands. Whether you're looking for advice on finding the best deals or simply want to connect with others who share your experience, don't hesitate to reach out and join the community of expats in the Netherlands. To get in touch with other expats you could check out Expat Forum.  

Create a savings plan that works for you

Setting up an automatic transfer from your bank account each month can help make saving money a regular and effortless habit. It's important to find an amount that works for you and your budget, whether it's a small percentage of your income or a fixed amount. Think of this as paying yourself first - prioritizing your own financial goals. Companies such as the ING have tools that, for example, put aside money for you each month automatically so that it directly goes to your savings account. Other companies, such as Whoolsocks, is also a money saving app that gives you saving goals but also has cashback programs. 

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