Raising a Family in the Netherlands For Expats
I don’t have kids yet but I know someday I will have my own. I don’t have plans of starting a family anytime soon but I know where I want to be when I’m ready to raise a family…
I was born and raised in the Philippines. Two years ago, I made a life-changing decision to leave my home country and move to the Netherlands with my partner. I was full of hope to start a new life, yet I was also filled with apprehension. Philippines was all I’ve known. It was my comfort zone. Leaving my home for another is something that I will never be fully prepared for. So many reasons were holding me back but I knew that if I want a better future for me and for my family, I ought to make a choice and choose I did.
Philippines vs Netherlands: Reality vs Dreams
Life in the Philippines is difficult and uncertain. Having lived in an impoverished environment myself, I just know that raising a kid in my home country would be painfully challenging. My friends who have kids are struggling to make ends meet and majority of the population are still living in poverty. Cost of living in the Philippines might be cheap but a good quality of life is very expensive. Parents need to save a lot of money in order to give their kids a better future. Good schools are expensive but still not at par with international standards. Moreover, health care and other government services are unreliable and inefficient.
Living in the Netherlands for almost 2 years now, I can’t help but compare how significantly different the Netherlands is to my home land. It feels like a dream. It is everything my home country isn’t – much more advanced, services are reliable and organized, kid-friendly institutions, kid privileges in education and public transport, more healthy food options than fast food stores, organizations dedicated for kids, and most importantly, the Netherlands is a much safer place to raise a family.
Pros of raising kids in the Netherlands
- The government services especially the health-care in the Netherlands are highly efficient and organized.
- The government provides financial aid/subsidy to help parents raise their kids well until the age of 18.
- Education is free in the Netherlands until the age of 16. Quality of education is excellent and some Dutch universities are among the best in the world.
- The country is ranked high among the best and safest countries in the world for children.
- Dutch food culture is generally healthier for kids
- The environment is clean
- Economy is stable and infrastructure is backed with sophisticated technology
- Expat community is huge and cities are filled with people from multi-cultural background
- The country has the happiest children according to world surveys
Cons of raising kids in the Netherlands
- Support network for expats are in their home country and so it can get difficult if something goes wrong with the pregnancy or with the relationship in general.
- It is common for women in the Netherlands to give birth at home with no available pain relief or anesthesia and for expat women this may seem like an unpleasant situation to be in.
- The liberal culture in the Netherlands may pose some problems to otherwise strict and conservative expats.
- Family is not very close-knit in the Netherlands compared to other countries and divorce is legal and common and so it may look less ideal for expats from families with strong ties.
- Finding a full-time job for expats and non-Dutch speakers is difficult
What is the most important thing that you look for in planning to raise a family abroad?
As with every situation, the decision to leave one’s home to seek a better life somewhere else is one that should never be taken lightly. There are still some nights when I stare at the ceiling and ask myself whether I made the right choice or is it all worth it. But you know what? I rest easy with a smile on my face content in the fact that I am in a better place.
I don’t have kids yet but that can wait. For now, I am where I dream I would be.