Utilities and Services in Amsterdam
Are you moving to Amsterdam or the Netherlands? You may need to get to grips with how the local utilities and services work - that is electricity, gas, water, refuse collection and telecommunications. In this article we provide an overview on Dutch utility providers from which companies and the estimated monthly or annual costs you will pay...
Energy: Electricity & Gas
The consumer energy sector in the Netherlands is liberalised and you are free to choose one energy company that will supply your dwelling with electricity and gas.
In Amsterdam the main energy company is Nuon (nuon.nl); other energy companies in the Dutch consumer market are Delta (delta.nl), E.ON (eon.nl), Eneco (eneco.nl), Energie Direct (energiedirect.nl), Essent (essent.nl), Green Choice (greenchoice.nl), Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij (nle.nl), Oxxio (oxxio.nl) and Vandebron (vandebron.nl).
Most offer a number of fixed and variable tariff options although prices are quite similar across the board. There is also the possibility to purchase energy from renewable sources (groene stroom) such as from wind, biomass or solar. Perhaps the greenest company is Vandebron which sells energy from independent producers, mainly farmers.
The Netherlands has some of the highest retail electricity prices in the world at around €0.20 per kWh. There are dual tariffs available with slightly cheaper rates during weekday nights 2300-0700 and at weekends.
Depending on your usage, expect a combined monthly bill of around €120 for a standard appartment, and up to €200 for a larger dwelling. Electric meter readings are done on an annual basis. When you first move in the energy company will estimate a monthly payment to take by direct debit - unsurprisingly, this is usually on the high side so it may take 1 year to adjust the payments to fit with your usage pattern.
There are fixed regional distribution companies (netbeheerders) which manage the power grid and metering. Distribution costs are included in your bill and are around €20 per month for electricity and €16 per month for gas. The grid company for Amsterdam and North Holland is Liander.
Like elsewhere, many Dutch energy companies are pushing the switch to smart metering - although some consumers have highlighted various issues such as inaccurate estimated readings, not to mention the possible privacy and health impacts.
Adding solar panels to houses in the Netherlands is becoming more popular with a few subsidies available. 10 solar panels producing just over 2,000 kWh per year will cost approximately €5,000 to install and will save about €500 per year. IKEA Netherlands offers 8 solar panels with options priced between €3,200 and €4,800.
Netherlands is on 230V mains voltage with 2 pin plugs. Power cuts are extremely rare.
Note, houses/appartments in some areas may have no gas connection and are heated by a district heating scheme which is paid separately.
The quality of the drinking water in the Netherlands is good. Water services in Amsterdam are provided by Waternet (waternet.nl) which handles both supply and sewerage.
There are various components to paying for water which covers direct consumption, sewerage, maintenance of dykes/waterways and some taxes. You will get an annual water consumption bill from Waternet; you will also pay sewerage charges via city council taxes.
Water consumption charges (2018 rates) depend whether you have a water meter installed or not. With a water meter you will pay a €71 annual standing charge and roughly €1.13 per cubic meter of water used - this includes the tap water tax but you also have to pay VAT (6%) on top. A 2 person dwelling consuming an average amount of water (100 m3) will pay €195 annually.
Without a water meter the bill is calculated on the total number of unit features that a dwelling has. For example, a single unit can be a room over 6m2, a kitchen, a bath, a garden or a garage; a room over 30m2 is 2 units. If your dwelling has a total of 3 units you would pay €173 per year; a dwelling with 9 units would cost you €392 per year.
Sewerage charges vary depending on the number of people in your home and whether you own or rent. Expect to pay anything between €160 and €310 per year.
Rubbish & Recycling
Rubbish collection varies depending on which part of Amsterdam you live in. Often it will be collected (twice) weekly from the street in bags or wheelie bins by the local council. Alternatively you may have to dispose of your rubbish in a street bin (labelled "rest") with underground storage - some areas require a smart card for access.
There are also street recycling bins for glass (glas), paper/card (papier), plastic (plastic verpakkingen) and textiles (textiel). Some councils will also collect organic waste matter separately.
Bulkier items such as old furniture, electric items, construction and chemical waste can be taken to one of the 6 Amsterdam waste collection depots (afvalpunten) located around the periphary of the city.
The fee for refuse is included in the annual city council tax bill and varies depending on which area of Amsterdam (or Netherlands) you live in. As a rough estimate annual waste collection fees in Amsterdam for 2017 are €235 (single occupancy) or €313 (multiple occupancy).
Communication: Telephone, TV and Internet
The telecom market has been liberalised in the Netherlands and you are free to choose from a number of companies for telecom and media services. Many people now going for "all-in-one" type packeges which include landline telephone, internet and TV. Companies offering this type of deal include KPN (kpn.com), Ziggo (ziggo.nl), Tele2 (tele2.nl) and various mobile telephone providers. Expect to pay around €40 to €60 per month for such a package (depending on specification) with some companies offering a discounted rate for the first 3 months. The all-in-one price offers a discount to buying each separately.
You should decide whether you want a landline telephone (vast bellen) at home, as some people make do with solely their mobiles. KPN, the former Dutch monopoly telecom provider still offers landlines on a stand-alone basis, whilst the other companies only offer landlines as part of a package. Expect to pay €12.50 to €40 fixed fee per month for a landline, depending on which call subscription package you choose. There may also be line activation and install fees on top.
International calls can be expensive from standard landline telecom providers and you should consider using online options such as Skype or Localphone.
Stand-alone broadband internet (40MBit/s) via cable or ADSL will cost around €40 per month, though once again, most people have more cost-effective all-in-one packages which includes internet. Fibre-optic connections (glasvezel) are being rolled out across the Netherlands and this offers faster internet connections anything up to 500MBit/s. You can do an postcode check online (at a provider website) to see if your home is connected to the fibre network.
Cable TV in the Netherlands includes English speaking channels such as BBC1, BBC2, BBC World and CNN. You will also get Dutch national channels NPO 1/2/3; commercial channels RTL 4/5/7/8, SBS6/9, Veronica and Net 5 which show many imported English language shows and films with subtitles; and also Eurosport, Discovery, National Geographic, plus a host of foreign and local channels. Most people have switched over to digital TV, however the analogue signal is still working.
There are various extra subscription options available such as sport channels and on-demand films. Ziggo Sport is a free sports channel available to Ziggo digital subscribers which shows English Premier League football, English League Cup games, Spanish La Liga football, World Cup qualifiers, Formula 1 motor racing and 6 Nations Rugby.
Note to British Expats: Officially there is no access from Netherlands to UK Internet TV services such as BBC IPlayer and ITV Player. It is possible to get around the restrictions by using UK Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Most people take out a mobile telephone contract (mobiel abonnementen) with a mobile telecom provider over either 12 or 24 months. This can either be a SIM-only deal or you can lease/purchase a smartphone. For a contract you will need to show ID and give a Dutch bank account number.
There are a number of retail mobile providers - such as Ben (ben.nl), Hollands Nieuwe (hollandsnieuwe.nl), KPN (kpn.nl), Telfort (telfort.nl), T-Mobile (t-mobile.nl) and Vodafone (vodafone.nl). Some companies have shops on the high street.
YYour monthly rate will depend on calling minutes (belminuten), the number of SMS texts and internet bandwidth usage. A SIM-only deal of around €10 per month (2 year contract) will get you 2,000 call mins/SMS/MB. Similar contracts which include a leased smartphone range from €25-€45 per month.
Alternatively you could opt for a pre-paid SIM deal - these are offered by the mobile companies and others such as Lebara (lebara.nl), HEMA (hema.nl) and Albert Heijn (ah.nl/mobiel). These can be topped up by buying credits at supermarkets, newsagents etc. It is possible to purchase these SIMs anonymously (no ID is necessary) but you will pay rates up to €0.35 per minute for calls. However the Dutch government is considering outlawing anonymous pre-paid SIMs.
On street markets there are stall holders who will unlock mobile phones for a nominal fee.
We have provided an overview of essential Dutch
utility and services providers (electricity, gas, water,
sewerage, rubbish, telephone, internet, TV and mobiles)
and given the average monthly or annual costs expected.
Most utility bills in the Netherlands are paid using
direct debits, see
how to open
a Dutch bank account.