A great place to work, live and raise a family

4 · Community

A great place to work, live and raise a family

A warm welcome

An open and internationally oriented country, the Netherlands is a great place to work, live, and raise a family. Furthermore, a broad selection of international schools, including European Schools, is available to EMA families at affordable price levels. Healthcare in the Netherlands is diverse and of high quality, conforming to international standards. Integration in the Dutch way of life is easy, as most Dutch people speak English and there is a thriving expat community. As the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and neighbouring regions are home to a large number of international companies, inter-governmental organisations, and universities, there are many employment opportunities for partners of EMA staff. We are confident that EMA and its entire staff will quickly feel at home here in the Netherlands. 

A friendly host country

The Netherlands is generally considered to be one of the most open and safe countries in the world. A place where aspects of life such as freedom of expression, religion, and gender orientation including same-sex marriage, are key pillars of society. It is a friendly host country to professionals and their families from across the globe. The main concentration of expats is located in the Amsterdam Metropolean Area (Amsterdam 50,000, Rotterdam 30,000 & The Hague 27,500). However, expats also form a significant part of the population elsewhere in the Netherlands. The country boasts an affordable, high standard of living, in a multicultural society. At the same time, it retains an inviting, communal atmosphere, especially in its city centres, where bikes are the main form of transportation.

Amsterdam has an internationally oriented and multi-cultural population, around 19% of whom are foreign nationals and migrants.

Source: OECD, price level index, 2016

Expat Centres

In addition to the dedicated EMA relocation programme, expat services are also available following the relocation period. To help expats to assimilate swiftly into Dutch society, Expat Centres have been set up across the Netherlands. They function as a one-stop-shop for international employees living and working in the Netherlands. The Expat Centres support international employees, and self-employed individuals, by offering fast and easy procedures for dealing with official administrative formalities and providing general information on the Netherlands.

Interview with the Executive Director of Access

"There is still that face-to-face personal contact"

Watch the video

The Expat Centres provide foreign nationals with the latest up-to-date information via social media and organise events for expats in their regions, providing an opportunity to meet other expats, and to receive valuable information about settling in the Netherlands.

Quality of life


The Netherlands has a diverse and high-quality healthcare system. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area hosts three internationally renowned university hospitals: the VU Medical Centre (VUMC), the Academic Medical Centre (AMC), the Leiden University Medical Centre and dozens of general hospitals. It also hosts a broad variety of primary healthcare services. For expats there is ample choice of English-speaking healthcare professionals. Healthcare is provided by private healthcare providers. 

The basic insurance package covers all essential medical care. The Seat Agreement that will be established between the Netherlands and the EMA will include the principles of the social security provisions that are included in seat agreements of other agencies. EMA staff and their families will be ensured access to all essential medical care according to the Joint Sickness Health Insurance Scheme (JSIS). The social security and health care protection offered under the Commission’s JSIS is well-known in the Netherlands and meets the Dutch requirements.

Our country tops the list of 35 countries in the 2015 Euro Health Consumer Index* for the best healthcare services.

* The ‘industry standard’ of modern healthcare. (It is also the only country to consistently place within the top three spots since 2005)


As 70% of these EMA employees’ children are under 11, childcare, excellent schools and sports facilities are of key importance. The Netherlands provides childcare and schooling facilities to make sure children can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment and has specific measures in place to help relocated families hit the ground running. In the Netherlands, there are three types of childcare: day nurseries, after-school care and child-minders. There are dozens of English speaking day nurseries, pre-school nurseries and after school clubs in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.


The Netherlands is renowned for providing a healthy, well-balanced education system at relatively low costs. The Dutch school system is considered to be one of the best within the OECD region, offering a wide variety of schools, both at primary and secondary level. The quality of education is monitored continuously by the Dutch Education Inspectorate Board. 

We are proud to host 19,000 international students in the Netherlands who study in one of the thirty-six international primary and secondary schools. There are British Schools located in Amsterdam and The Hague. The two European Schools, in The Hague and Bergen, offer the European Baccalaureate curriculum with specific emphasis on EU languages. The European School in Bergen now has capacity for 600 extra pupils. The European School in The Hague will expand its capacity by 500 extra places in 2018. Whether children start their education, or have already begun education in a specific curriculum, there is always a suitable school available.

Find more information about the international schools on: 
The map in the 1· Continuity chapter.

Capacity international schools 

In addition to the international schools, regular Dutch schools also welcome foreign pupils and offer multiple options for a successful education. In fact, 55% of expat families in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area choose to place their children in regular Dutch schools.

Interview with the director and a teacher of the European School in Bergen

"After a week, students already feel comfortable"

Watch the video

The Dutch government views high-quality education as one of the cornerstones of an evermore knowledgeable population. It provides a unique system of publicly-funded international schools. Meeting all standard national quality levels, publicly-funded international schools offer all of the aforementioned international curricula against significantly lower school fees.  

Higher education 

The Netherlands has fourteen research universities, including three universities for technology and engineering, and eight university medical centres. There are 37 universities of applied sciences and 66 regional schools for secondary Vocational Education and Training, offering 168 different vocational programmes. Twelve Dutch universities are among the top 200 universities in the world and thirteen are among the best in Europe, showing that the academic quality of Dutch institutions is well recognised.

Housing EMA Staff

Green and urban life

A broad range of affordable housing is available within 15-45 minutes commuting distance of the office location. Residents can choose amongst living in a bustling city, a residential suburb, a village, or in the picturesque countryside. Housing in different segments is readily available and priced competitively in comparison to other major European cities. As distances in the Netherlands are comparatively short, it is possible to live in the countryside and still access the centre of a major city within 30 minutes.

Amsterdam’s business ecosystem is a potential source of work opportunities, with start-ups, scale-ups and global corporations alike.

Job opportunities for partners

Whether you speak the language or not, looking for employment in a new country can sometimes be a daunting prospect. As indicated in this bid, the Dutch government will provide a dedicated relocation package, including information and support for partners of EMA staff in helping to identify relevant job opportunities. There are plentiful opportunities for non-Dutch speakers looking to work in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. With unemployment in the Netherlands amongst the lowest in the EU, there are ample possibilities for partners of EMA staff to find employment. More than 3,000 international companies have invested in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, and there are currently more than 465 global and European business headquarters in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Many potential international job opportunities for partners of EMA staff may also exist within the significant number of embassies located in The Hague or within the more than 200 International Governmental Organisations and international non-governmental organisations that are situated in the city.

For job opportunities, see:

Culture, sport and recreation

A large variety of cultural and leisure activities are available to Dutch citizens and visitors alike. Whether it is spending a leisurely afternoon at one of the many beaches along the extensive North-Sea Coast, or at the IJsselmeer, enjoying the culinary delights, having a drink at a Dutch ‘bruine kroeg’ (pub) or going to one of the many acclaimed theatres, or opera houses, the new expatriate will soon feel that the Netherlands is a most welcoming and entertaining country. There are around 1,200 museums in the Netherlands, the most famous of which are the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterloo, the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum and the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, and the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague.

The Dutch are sporty people; the country’s 35,000 sports clubs have a total membership of some 4.3 million people. Sports facilities are widely available everywhere. Almost one-fifth of the country’s surface area is covered by lakes, canals and rivers, drawing aficionados of sailing, waterskiing, kite-surfing, and fishing. An extensive network of dedicated cycle paths makes cycling a popular and safe pastime, while in winter, weather permitting, ice skating on canals, lakes, in parks and even in the ditches at the ends of the gardens, is a particular favourite.

For more information, see:

Life Sciences and health sector

The Dutch government has identified the Life Sciences & Health sector (LSH) as an economic ‘top sector’. These top sectors are key drivers of the Dutch economy with an above average economic performance when measured against international benchmarks. The LSH sector is well established in the Netherlands. The country has one of the highest concentrations of LSH activity in the world, with more than 2,900 innovative R&D Life Sciences companies employing over 34,000 people within a 200 km radius. This focus on many innovative small and medium size bioscience companies, makes the country an interesting and attractive working environment for young talent in the field.  

Although EMA attracts its workforce from across the EU and does not depend on the availability of a large Life Sciences & Health sector in its host country, the availability of an LSH knowledge infrastructure contributes to a supportive scientific working environment and attracts relevant international talent. 

The eight university medical centres in the Netherlands all conduct world class research in the field of Life Sciences & Health. Three of them are situated in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. All eight centres host pharmaceutical education, including the Bachelor’s Programmes in Pharmacy, and Master’s Programmes in Pharmacy and in Drug Innovation.

With one of the highest concentrations of Life Sciences & Health activities worldwide, the Netherlands offers EMA access to a highly skilled workforce, strong research institutes and world-class universities.

Vibrant local LSH clusters exist, each with its own focus and strengths. For example, the Leiden Bio Science Park ranks in the Top 5 science parks in Europe that are dedicated to Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals. With 190 companies and 18,000 jobs, it is the largest, fastest-growing and best-known Life Science cluster in the Netherlands. The Park is home to 100 biomedical companies and dozens of innovative start-ups developing novel therapeutics.

International research in the field of Life Sciences & Health is of primary importance in the Netherlands. Our country has one of the highest success rates in European programmes such as Horizon 2020, while 49% of initiatives in the programmes health research involves Dutch participants. A prime example is the scientific coordination, by Lygature, of several major projects within the Innovative Medicines Initiative, including the European Lead Factory (ELF), that is providing a major boost to drug discovery in Europe by connecting innovative drug targets to high-quality compounds.

“The Netherlands is a great country in which to live and work. We will make every effort to ensure that EMA staff and their families quickly feel at home here and that EMA can continue its valuable work with a minimum of disruption. This is for the sake of all concerned and, just as importantly, for people all across Europe.”

Mark Rutte – Prime Minister


This bidbook contains the Dutch governments’ bid for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency. The information contained in this publication has been compiled with great care by the Dutch government and its partners and is accurate to the best of its knowledge at the time of compilation.

Prime Ministers Office
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Economic Affairs
Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (Central Government Real Estate Agency)
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences
Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency
Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board
City of Amsterdam
City of Leiden
City of The Hague

© 2017, Government of the Netherlands.