For the third year in a row, Australia has taken the top prize for being the happiest place to live in the advanced world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD)Better Life Index.
The annual index ranks the world’s 34 industrialized economies based on key criteria such as jobs, health, environment, education and income and Australia was the only Asia-Pacific country to find a place in the top 10. The Netherlands performs very well in overall well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In the Netherlands, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is 25 493 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly five times as much as the bottom 20%.
In general, 86% of people in the Netherlands say they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc), more than the OECD average of 80%.
The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.
For more info: Dutch Daily News
The Netherlands is very densely populated. There are more than 16 million inhabitants and this figure is expected to grow to 17 – 18 million people by 2030. In 2010, there were more than seven million homes in the Netherlands.
Types of housing
- Detached (Vrijstaand)
- Semi-detached (Twee onder een kap)
- Terraced/Town houses (Rijtjeshuis)
The most common type of dwelling is the terraced house. This is a family home, two or three storeys high, with a front and back garden, adjoined by two, three or more identical homes. A standard Dutch house has two rooms in addition to the kitchen, living room, toilet and bathroom.
Most Dutch people live in urban areas, yet the limitation of space is putting pressure on rural areas too. Many city dwellers would love to live amidst the water and the greenery of the countryside. Since space is scarce in the Netherlands, many people live in low- or high-rise flats.
Due to a lack of information on the local property market, regulations, laws and technicalities, it is advisable for newcomers to use the services of an estate agent (makelaar), rather than trying to find a property by themselves. This applies to both renting and buying properties and saves unnecessary costs that might be incurred on top of an agent’s commission.
Cost of housing
The cost of housing depends on the area and the size of the property. Most expats rent properties but some buy their homes. Both options are available depending on your company relocation policy, income and the length of your stay. During the first quarter of 2010 the average house sold in the Netherlands for € 232,000. This is an increase of 0.4% in comparison to the last quarter of 2009. In the “Randstad” area (the area including and in between The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam) housing is most expensive and Amsterdam is considered to be the most expensive city to live in. Due to the constant shortage of new housing, the market remains tight. (**RED: the index of house price since 2010 is decreased with 13,2%)
Rent or buy?
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to rent or buy a house in the Netherlands. If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for a short period it may be more advisable to rent a property rather than buy one. Here are two important reasons why it is better to rent:
- The costs associated with buying amount to approximately 10% of the purchase price. You will have to make a 10% profit, if you do not want to lose money. Recovering that amount during a few years’ stay in the Netherlands can be difficult
- You have to maintain your premises. Consider the costs incurred during the process of redecorating your new home.
The safest, most efficient way to find a rental property in the private market is to commission a real estate agent (makelaar) with experience in helping expats, to find one for you.