If you are considering a move to Amsterdam / Netherlands it is important to weigh up the cost of living against how much you will be able to earn.
A variety of banks and consulting firms publish comparative data on both cost of living and earnings. Let's take a closer look...
Prices / Cost of Living in Amsterdam
In relative terms, Amsterdam has average price levels being neither the most expensive destination nor the cheapest. Prices did generally rise significantly after the conversion from the guilder to the euro in 2002. In recent times the weakness of the euro has made Amsterdam (and other euro-zone countries) relatively cheaper... although the current economic slowdown and inflation means locals are feeling the pinch.
In a 2012 survey, consulting firm Mercer ranked Amsterdam 57th most expensive out of 214 cities - the top 5 were Tokyo, Luanda, Osaka, Moscow and Geneva. Other cities of note were Hong Kong (9), Sydney (11), London (25), New York (33), Paris (37), Rome (42), Vienna (48) and Brussels (71).
In the UBS Prices & Earnings report (published every 3 years, last survey 2012) Amsterdam comes in as the 23rd most expensive city out of 72 cities. With New York as a base score of 100, Amsterdam ranks 77.0 (excluding rent) and 69.0 (including rent, reflecting the high rent costs in New York). Other cities as a comparison are London (87.3/83.0), Sydney (83.6/77.8), Paris (83.9/77.5), Rome (79.1/73.8), Brussels (75.8/68.7) and Berlin (72.3/64.1).
Obviously these surveys are relative only - your cost of living will also depend on your circumstance and what you choose to spend your money on. There can be a huge differences in spending between expats. For example:
the single expat with corporate job who rents a nice appartment in the centre of Amsterdam and lives the high life.
the expat couple who have a large mortgage on a house, have 2 kids and run 2 cars.
the international student who has a flat share and works part-time.
the expat who learns the frugal Dutch way - cycling and using public transport, perhaps living in (rent-controlled) social housing with a Dutch partner, knowing the ins and out of getting value from shopping and going out.
Earnings in Netherlands
Salaries in Netherlands are also at average levels and probably a bit lower than US and the UK. Income taxes are on the high side unless you get the "30% ruling" - check our Taxation in Netherlands brief overview. In the UBS Prices & Earnings 2012 report, Amsterdam ranked 20th for wage levels out of the 72 cities.
Salaries will obviously vary depending on employer and how much experience the employee has. Employees do get at least 20 holiday days per year and a holiday bonus month.
According to PayScale Inc, average salary ranges in the Netherlands reported in 2013 are:
€28,000-€50,000 for women and €34,000-€65,000 for men with Amsterdam showing a median hourly rate of €19 per hour.
Recruitment consultants Robert Walters publish an annual Salary Survey - the 2012 issue has the following salary ranges for various positions: Data Entry €20k-€30k, Secretary €26k-€40k, Network Administrator €35k-€50k, IT Manager €65k-€85k, Account Sales Manager €50k-€100k, Sales Director €70k-€170k.
See tips on finding a job in Netherlands