This year, four Dutch cities feature in InterNations’ 2021 rankings for the top 57 cities around the world according to expats – but which one came out on top? Find out below.

The Expat City Ranking 2021

As part of their annual Expat Insider Survey, InterNations – a network of expats around the world – asked over 12.000 expats living in 186 different counties and representing a total of 174 nationalities for their opinion on four aspects of expat life. Under these four aspects, there were over 25 topics, split into 13 sub-categories across four indices, that expats were asked to rate on a scale of one to seven: 

  • Quality of Urban Living: Leisure & Climate; Transportation; Safety & Politics; Health & Environment
  • Getting Settled: Local Friendliness; Feeling Welcome; Friends & Socialising; Local Language
  • Urban Work Life: Job & Career; Job Security; Work-Life Balance
  • Finance & Housing: Finance; Housing

Using these topics, InterNations aims to determine the best and worst cities for expats around the world, ranking 57 cities from best to worst. 

While this year’s bottom 10 spots remain fairly similar to last year’s ranking, the top 10 cities have moved around quite a bit. In 2020, Valencia, Alicante, and Lisbon occupied the top three spots, while this year two of these European cities have fallen out of the ranking completely, with Lisbon dropping into 18th place. Kuala Lumpur, on the other hand, rose from eighth position to first place.

Which city in the Netherlands is the best place for expats?

This year’s rankings differ significantly from the 2020 Expat City Ranking – especially when it comes to how Dutch cities performed. While no Dutch city managed to nab a spot in the top 10, one did come in 50th place out of the 57 cities featured.

19. The Hague

For the third year in a row, The Hague outperformed the fan favourite Amsterdam, securing a very respectable 19th place and making it the best city in the Netherlands for expats. The city placed 14th in the Urban Work Live index, achieving particularly good scores in the Job & Career and Job Security sub-categories.

Compared to other Dutch cities, expats involved in the survey found The Hague to be a more affordable and more welcoming city. Expats living in The Hague admitted to feeling happy with their local career opportunities and their work-life balance, and highlighted the excellent public transportation system, and 91 percent said it was an easy city to live in without speaking Dutch.

28. Rotterdam

In second place comes Rotterdam, a city that has seen its popularity grow significantly over the past few years amongst Dutch people and expats alike. The Expat City Ranking found that, while you didn’t necessarily have to speak Dutch in order to live a happy life in this major port city, it was difficult to make new friends. 38 percent of respondents admitted to feeling unhappy with their social life. 

On the other hand, out of the four Dutch cities featured in this year’s ranking, Rotterdam performed the best in the Quality of Urban Living index, coming in 24th place. Expats living in the city praised the public transportation system, but did complain about the unpredictable weather.

31. Amsterdam

Coming in third place is the Dutch capital, which saw its position fall slightly in comparison to last year when it came in 27th place out of the 66 cities featured in the ranking. This year, Amsterdam performed fairly averagely in both the Getting Started and Quality of Urban Living indices, but achieved the highest ranking out of all Dutch cities in the Urban Work Life Index. 

On the whole, expats living in Amsterdam are satisfied with the local leisure options and the urban environment, but are unhappy with the weather and rate the quality of local healthcare fairly poorly. Furthermore, only 11 percent of expats are happy with the affordability of housing and the general cost of living in Amsterdam.

50. Maastricht

Occupying one of the bottom spots in the Expat City Ranking is Maastricht, which performed poorly across all four indices. The southern Dutch city achieved the worst ranking in the Getting Settled index, coming in 42nd place, and only did marginally better in the Urban Work Life and Finance & Housing indices (41st out of 57).

Expats in Maastricht complained that the locals were unfriendly and that it was extremely difficult to make friends, with one noting that locals “are not looking to make friends with you as they already have their own groups.” International residents also expressed dissatisfaction with local career opportunities and their jobs, and said housing was difficult to find and expensive.

Source: InterNationsInterNations Expat City Ranking 2021

The best cities for expats in 2021

According to findings from the Expat Insider Survey, the top 10 cities around the world for expats are: 

  1. Kuala Lumpur
  2. Malaga
  3. Dubai
  4. Sydney
  5. Singapore
  6. Ho Chi Minh City
  7. Prague
  8. Mexico City
  9. Basel 
  10. Madrid

The worst cities for expats in 2021

From worst to best, the cities found to be the worst places for expats to settle are: 

  1. Rome
  2. Milan
  3. Johannesburg
  4. Istanbul
  5. Tokyo
  6. Cairo
  7. Paris
  8. Maastricht
  9. Moscow
  10. New York

To find more information about the Expat Insider survey, visit the InterNations website.

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