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 more recent times we have seen an economic and housing slowdown after the financial crisis hit. Whilst things have picked up to an extent, some people are still feeling the pinch.
In a 2014 survey, consulting firm Mercer ranked Amsterdam 39th most expensive out of 211 cities - the top 5 were Luanda, NDjamena, Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich. Other cities of note were London (12), New York (16), Sydney (26), Paris (27), Rome (31), Vienna (32), Brussels (56), Berlin (68) and Toronto (101). Increasing accommodation rental prices for the expat market has seen Amsterdam rise from previous Mercer rankings of 57th (2012) and 52nd (2013).
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, position and how much relevant experience you have. Employees do get at least 20 holiday days per year and a holiday bonus month which is paid in May.
According to PayScale Inc, the median salary by gender in Amsterdam reported by individuals in 2015 is: €39,000 for women and €50,000 for men.
Recruitment consultants Robert Walters publishes an annual Salary Survey - the 2014 issue has the following salary ranges for various positions in the Netherlands: Data Entry €23-31K, Secretary €26-40K, Business Analyst €45-75K, IT Manager €65-90K, National Sales Manager €55-110K, Sales Director €70-170K.
See tips on finding a job in Netherlands