Planning on moving your career to the Netherlands? Rotterdam and The Hague will probably be among the cities you'll consider.
While both cities are very international and offer plenty of professional opportunities, some aspects of working in both cities may lead you to find working in one more convenient than the other.
In this article, we present you with the pros and cons of living in The Hague and the pros and cons of living in Rotterdam.
Pros of working in Rotterdam
1. Better accessibility
Rotterdam Central Station benefits from close proximity to Rotterdam/The Hague airport (approx. 30 minutes with the RET bus 33, including a 10-minute walk) and Schiphol (25 minutes without any connections).
In addition, it's easier to travel to Belgium, France, and Germany from Rotterdam as the Thalys stops at Rotterdam Centraal, connecting the station to Brussels, Paris, and Köln, among other international cities. This is an important pro if you fancy smooth travel to neighbouring countries and close proximity to a major airport.
2. Job opportunities
There are many employment opportunities in Rotterdam. The port of Rotterdam alone accounts for 180,000 jobs today. An additional 10,000 jobs are expected to be created in the next 5 to 10 years (by 2030). While this concerns many job seekers looking for labour jobs in shipping and trade industries, the increased use of technology within the port and trading activities also requires talent in AI, machinery, and engineering!
Rotterdam is also home to the regional headquarters of major chemical, commodities trading, pharmaceutical, logistics and consumer goods companies such as:
Procter & Gamble
3. More jobs in academia
Rotterdam is home to the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Inholland Hogeschool, Hogeschool TIO Rotterdam and many other higher education establishments. If you're looking for academic jobs in Rotterdam, you'll have plenty to choose from, whether you want to work as a professor, assistant professor, researcher or PhD candidate.
On the other hand, the Hague "only" has the Hague University of Applied Sciences, with fewer teaching positions but also fewer PhD and research positions for those of you pursuing careers in those areas.
Cons of working in Rotterdam
1. High unemployment rate
While we've stressed there are many employment opportunities in Rotterdam, there are also more job seekers in Rotterdam, making it thus much more competitive. Indeed, while the Netherlands' unemployment rate has steadily been held at around 3 to 4%, it's higher in Rotterdam, making the job search more competitive than in other Dutch cities.
2. More difficult to find English-speaking jobs
If you're working in the service industry, finding a job without speaking Dutch might be challenging. Indeed, Rotterdam has 90% fewer tourists than Amsterdam, meaning that the Dutch language holds a bigger place in daily exchanges with clients. That being said, everyone still speaks English in Rotterdam!
3. Fewer international schools
If you're an expatriate planning on moving to Rotterdam with a family and children, you'll probably want them to attend international schools. This is especially common for children who are older and who it's more difficult to for to adapt to the Dutch school system. While Rotterdam does have a few international schools, the choice is limited compared to the Hague.
According to Iamexpat (2022), the Nord Anglia International School of Rotterdam appears to be the only choice offering an English curriculum for 3-18-year-olds. The other establishments, Harbour International and Rotterdam International Secondary School (RISS) at Wolfert van Borselen respectively offer primary and secondary education only, which means your children might have to change establishments if you plan on staying in Rotterdam longer. The Japanese School of Rotterdam is also among your choices!
Pros of working in the Hague
1. Most livable city for expatriates
The Hague ranked 3rd out of 480 worldwide cities as the "most livable city for expats". The factors taken into account were the criminality rate, infrastructure, air quality and healthcare, among others. "Den Haag" ranked 3rd after Copenhagen and Bern.
In addition, The Hague came out as the highest-ranked Dutch city in a recent "Expat City Ranking" from InterNations (2021), placing itself at the 14th position in the Urban Work Life Index. Furthermore, expatriates living in the Hague have reported being satisfied with the local career opportunities (55% vs. 45% globally), the state of the local economy (84% vs. 62% globally), and their work-life balance (75% vs. 66% globally).
2. Many international schools
Compared to Rotterdam, The Hague has almost endless choices in terms of international schools. This is an important pro for expats with children who are accustomed to educational systems from their home countries.
Among the international schools in The Hague, you'll find:
The British School in The Netherlands
International Waldorf School of The Hague
HSV International Primary School
The International School of The Hague
Indonesian Embassy School in the Netherlands / Sekolah Indonesia Nederland
American School of The Hague
European School in The Hague
Lighthouse Special Education
German International School of The Hague (DiSDH)
Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh
Haagsche Schoolvereeniging / HSV Den Haag
3. Close to the beach
An important reason why many expatriates choose to work and live in The Hague: it's close to the beach. This is a pro that no other large Dutch city possesses. Scheveningen (the coast close to the Hague) is only an 18-minute bicycle or public transportation ride from the city centre.
While this pro is not directly linked to work, we consider it an important argument in favour of workers who value weekends on the seaside to blow some steam off after a long day or week of work. Scheveningen is a great place to escape the busy city, disconnect from work, and enjoy a well-deserved sea breeze.
Cons of working in the Hague
1. Railway access to neighbouring countries
This is only a con in comparison to Rotterdam. The Hague is quite well-connected and in close proximity to Rotterdam/The Hague airport and Schiphol. The fact remains, it's slightly more time-consuming and difficult to smoothly access neighbouring countries by train.
To travel to France, Belgium, and Germany by train, for instance, you'll have to first go to Rotterdam Central Station and take the Thalys from there. On the other hand, Schiphol can be reached within 25 minutes by departing from Den Haag HS.
2. Less dynamic city
The Hague hosts many internationals and expatriates, contributing to the city's population diversity. That being said, The Hague gives more of an "official", "higher-class", and "family" vibe, as the International Criminal Court, the Parliament, and many diplomats are based there.
In addition, the city doesn't have as many universities as other Dutch cities, including Rotterdam. If you're starting your career and are still looking for a city with a relaxed, dynamic, and young vibe, The Hague might not be the best choice for you.
3. Less "Dutch"
All the above reasons might lead one to consider The Hague as feeling "less Dutch" than other cities in the Netherlands, including Rotterdam. This of course depends on the area, just like we explained in our article about living in Utrecht vs. Amsterdam.
If you're looking for a more authentic Dutch experience, Rotterdam may be a better city for you as the city is less accustomed (although still English-speaker friendly) to tourists and expats than The Hague is.