Due to a high living standard, lots of opportunities and high levels of English, and therefore a lot of english-speaking study programmes and jobs, a lot of people choose to live in the Netherlands. However, living in the Netherlands isn’t cheap. And even working full time you will mostly likely have to do some budgeting, as housing prices and food can be pretty pricey. If you are living in the Netherlands and would like to know about ways to save some money, here are 14 budget tips for expats (or locals) in the Netherlands.
If you are from the Netherlands yourself then you probably know most of these, but if you came to the Netherlands for work/study/a change of scenery, then some of these tips might come in handy.
Saving money on food and groceries in the Netherlands
Like mentioned before, groceries and eating out in the Netherlands can be very expensive, so here are some ways to save money in this category.
1. Albert Heijn and Jumbo Bonus cards
Albert Heijn and Jumbo are two of the biggest supermarket chains you will find in the Netherlands. Both of them are not the cheapest supermarkets, so you should make use of their bonus card system. The items that are on sale at Albert Heijn you can only actually buy on sale, if you have a bonus card, which you can usually get at the service desk.
Jumbo has a different bonus system. You don’t get discounts but with some items you buy you can collect points which you can exchange against discounts for certain stores (e.g. Hema) or free groceries.
2. Avoid shopping at “To-go” supermarkets
Especially if you live in Amsterdam, you will find a lot of “to-go” supermarkets such as Albert Hijn to-go. Or also you will find these on all train stations. These are smaller and also way more expensive.
3. Buy food at discounters
But since groceries are very pricey in the Netherlands, a lot of your money will go towards food, so if you want to avoid the more expensive shops all together,just shop at discounters like Aldi and Lidl. That will save you a bunch of money already!
4. Make use of 1+1 discounts
A type of discount that you will see a lot, not just in grocery stores, is 1+1. So you buy one specific article, you’ll get another for free. If you see these discounts make use of them.
5. Use apps like Too Good To Go
This app doesn’t just operate in the Netherlands. But apps like “Too good to go” will save food at supermarkets or restaurants from becoming food waste. You will be able to purchase items that are going to expire soon, that you can pick up at a certain time. And while you don’t often know what you are going to get, you are not only saving food from being thrown away, you are also able to save a lot of money.
Saving money on transportation in the Netherlands
6. Get a Swapfiets
Swapfiets is a bike company where you can get a bike for a monthly subscription price. That is usually around 15 euros per month. And while it is certainly cheaper to just buy a cheap bike, you won’t have to worry about any repairs with the Swapfiets, as that is included in the subscription price and the Swapfiets is also less likely to be stolen.
7. Don’t buy train tickets at the train station
It will always cost you an extra euro if you buy the paper tickets at the train station. Therefore, either purchase them online or, even better, have an OV-chipkaart. Here you can choose between an anonymous one which you can just top off with money or a personalised one which takes your travel costs from your bank account every month.
8. Buy a train subscription
If you are using the train more frequently, you should look into getting a train subscription (you will need a personalised OV-card). For example, for €31 a month you could use all trains on the weekend as much as you would like. Or for just €2 a month you can get 40% off of train travel on the weekend.
Also read: 16 Best day trips from Utrecht
Other ways to save money in the Netherlands
9. Buy items of Marktplaats
Marktplaats is a very popular site for buying and selling second-hand items. So make sure you have a look here as well. For example if you are only in the Netherlands for a limited amount of time, you can look into buying second hand furniture on Marktplaats instead of buying everything brand new.
10. Use Budgeting Apps
Figure out what is the most convenient way for you to keep track of your budget and expenses. If that is by writing everything down by hand or using a budgeting app. Banks like ABM Amro actually have their own app where you can categorise your expenses and keep an easy overview of where your money is going.
11. Use the Tikkie App
Tikkie is an app that is used by a lot of people in the Netherlands. It allows you to send payment requests for money that is being owed to you, to your friends or colleagues. These can be easily shared via mail, Whatsapp etc., and paying someone back is way quicker than doing a normal bank transfer. As usually one person pays the bill in a restaurant and you split up the expenses later on, the Tikkie app is the best way to make sure you will get your money back if you pay for the whole table.
12. Apply for Zorgtoeslag
If you earn below a certain amount of money (less than € 31.998 a year as of Jan. 2022), you can apply for Zorgtoeslag to get a part of your health insurance covered. The amount of money you can get depends on your income but can be up to about €100 a month. All people residing in the Netherlands can apply for Zorgtoeslag and you do not have to be a Dutch citizen.
13. Live outside the city centre
In any big city in the Netherlands, but especially in the Randstad, living in the city centre will be very expensive. So if you would like to save a little bit of money on housing, you are best of looking for a place that is located outside of the city centre or even in a neighbouring city.
14. Use Honey browser extension to get discounts when purchasing items online
By installing Honey you can find a lot of discounts on various websites when ordering online. You can also collect points that you can exchange against gift cards at some point. All you have to do is completing your online shopping as per usual and when checking out, the chrome extension will find available discounts if there are any. You can use this in a lot of countries and not just in the Netherlands. Join Honey today!
And these were just a few budget tips for expats in the Netherlands. What’s your best tip for saving money while living in the Netherlands? Let me know in the comments x
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