The Student's Cost of Living in the Netherlands

If you’re heading to the Netherlands for school soon, or considering attending university in this small corner of Europe, you’ve probably asked yourself, “How much is it going to cost to live there?”. I know this was a huge question on my mind while applying to schools, and even after reading about it from many sources online, I still wasn’t sure how much it would be.

Posted by at Jun 01, 2017 12:45 PM

I made a budget for what I thought I would have to spend on essentials while I was here. My estimate was quite a bit off. Fortunately I estimated that I would have to spend quite a bit more than I do. So what is the cost of living for a student?

My Essentials (all prices in euros)

Rent: 515 per month, utilities included

This will obviously be your biggest expense and it can vary a lot depending on where you live in the country and how lucky you get during your apartment search. I spend 515 a month for my room here in Amsterdam, but I know people who pay less than 400 and some who pay up to 700. Most people I know seem to pay between 425-500.

my apartment
Not everyone lives on a canal! I live here, a 10 minute walk from 3 different grocery stores!


If you live in other parts of the country your rent will probably be a bit lower. For instance, I know people who lived in Rotterdam, just 5 minutes by bike away from central station, who only paid 380 a month. Amsterdam is probably the most pricey city in which to live. Most of the other cities are cheaper.

Groceries: Approximately 100-125 a month

I thought groceries would be MUCH more expensive here than back in the US. I was incredibly wrong. I usually spend 20-25 when I go shopping (and maybe 5-10 on the odd quick trip during the week) once a weekend. I’m not just buying ramen noodles on this budget either. I get most things I want, and rarely stop myself from buying something. Usually it is things like cookies and chips that I keep myself from buying.

central station
Central station not only gets you around the country, but also has some good places to eat!

This amount of course can vary by person and where you choose to shop. I do shop at the cheapest option in my neighborhood, and because I’m pretty bad at cooking and don’t like to spend 45 minutes preparing food, I tend to make simple things. For instance, I buy the 1 kilo bag of spaghetti for 64 cents, instead of the nice name brand for double the price. Compared to some countries, these prices may seem normal, high or low. Compared to the US it’s a great deal.

Phone Bill: 22.48 a month

For you guys back in the US, yes...I pay 22.48 a month for 6GB OF DATA, 200 SMS (who needs it when you have 6GB) and 200 minutes! I managed to grab a deal that a carrier was running, but even the normal prices are a fraction of what the US carriers offer. Many of my European friends stick with their old country’s carrier (because they have a SMS deal for within the EU for instance) or opt for less data. You can definitely go cheaper, but considering I paid 3 times more, for half the amount of data back in the US, I couldn’t say no!

Transportation: 25-50 a month

Get a bike and use it and this number can and will go down a lot. My bike broke, I got in an accident, and sometimes I’m lazy and don’t want to bike, especially with my saxophone. Don’t be me. Bike! It’s super easy and many of my friends rarely ever use trams, trains or buses.

Bikes in Gouda
Do it the cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly way. Be like the Dutch and bike!

Health Insurance: 39.33 a month

As I didn’t have a job in the Netherlands, I could get private student insurance for the above price. If you get a job, you’ll have to pay for Dutch Basic Insurance which runs between about 90-110. You can get a large portion of this back with tax rebates though. Make sure to check out study in Holland’s great page on insurance. To learn a bit about how that insurance might help you out, read about my Dutch health care experience!

Total: About 700-750 euros a month

Keep in mind this is just for basic survival. You won’t live like a king on the above budget. I still need to buy clothes sometimes, or something for the apartment that might bring these amounts up a bit. I also go out with friends for food or drinks, which compared to grocery shopping is quite expensive. If you’re trying to be frugal, at least in Amsterdam, it would be hard to do it much cheaper than the above cost.

This incredible meal cost me around 7 euros at lunch. Look at the Dutch cheese!!


I got a lot of good information from the Study in Holland website, and I think it gives a pretty good idea of what you might end up spending when including recreational activities.

Do you have any questions about prices here in the Netherlands? Ask below!

Posted by at Jun 01, 2017 12:45 PM
Hala Z says:
Jun 01, 2017 04:18 PM
Good experience to you Sir Michael Anderson..
I wish to travel and complete my high studies at one of netherland universities and I am search on net hoping to find scholarship at Holland university soon..
I hope good luck for you in all your life.
Michael Anderson says:
Jun 09, 2017 12:15 PM
Hi Hala,
Coming to the Netherlands for school is a great goal! If you haven't found it on the Study in Holland website yet, there is a great scholarship tool here It shows a lot of scholarships for different universities around the country and also gives shows scholarships that might be open for people from specific countries. Good luck!

Benedict Lazier says:
Jun 09, 2017 04:48 PM
Great Tips
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